Thursday, 26 April 2012

Hall of Fame: McNabb v Dawkins

Two players who will forever be remembered as Philadelphia Eagles have both made statements in the last week; one has done it with dignity and humility you would expect, the other is making noises that louder the more insignificant he has become.

Donovan McNabb is still an active player, an unattached free agent who is seeking a team to throw for.  He is currently unattached because he has two awful seasons with the Washington Redskins and Minnesota Vikings.

Brian Dawkins, the 2nd round draft pick out of Clemson, became an irrepressible Safety who was a starter from his first season in 1996 and became an integral part of the team that went to five NFC championship games and one Superbowl.  Dawkins was the leader of the defence, the defence that scored points and allowed the offence marshalled by McNabb the opportunity to take them to these milestone games.

Whilst McNabb is making noises that he is hall of fame worthy, Dawkins is going to slope off into a quiet retirement.  The Eagles have even extended an invitation to the Denver Broncos player to return to Philly so he can officially retire in the green of an Eagle.  McNabb left on bitter terms with the Eagle organisation, and is not so welcome.

My argument and belief is that Dawkins is most certainly worthy of enshrinement in Canton, Ohio.  Defensive players of note and of great skill playing levels are few and far between, especially at safety.  John Lynch is a name who is first time ballot for sure, yet Dawkins work off the field and the fact he is so beloved in the city and the team still helps.  And even when he went to Denver, he elevated that franchise.  The work Dawkins did with Champ Bailey in the defence at Mile High, helped Denver win some of their games and got somewhat overshadowed by the hysteria of Tebow-mania.  Remember a prolific Ben Roethlisberger was expected to stomp over this leaky Denver defence, and did he?  No, Big Ben's numbers on that night were woeful (22-40, 289yds, 1TD, 1INT, 75.9rating)

It also helps that Dawkins has some great career numbers, 26 sacks, 37 forced fumbles (16 recovered) and 37 interceptions.

As for McNabb, his argument is a difficult one.  For a quarterback to be elite, you have to have at least one ring on your finger.  Look at all the active ones you consider they have the jewellry - Brady, Big Ben, Eli, Peyton, Rodgers, Brees, even Brett Favre did get one.  The only elite one at the moment is Philip Rivers and that is due to his productivity and efficiency, expect him to bounce back this season.

Dawkins is a shoe in because he played fair but played hard.  He was an exemplary model of professionalism with a clean sheet of integrity and respect from his peers.

As for McNabb he has now left three teams (Eagles, Redskins, Vikings) all with a cloud over his head.  Yet for a player you live and die by what have you won.  The Eagles never won the QB, ultimately the one they played in was against a good New England side, yet they had a chance to tie yet took too long.  That comes down to the QB and his coach.

There is an argument that if Jim Kelly is in, why not McNabb.  They share similar figures, McNabb has 37,726 to Kelly's 35,467 yet Kelly played in two Superbowls to McNabb's one, yet he was the franchise in Buffalo.

Should he retire now, McNabb's figures are ecliped already by the still very active Brady (39,979), Brees (40,742), Peyton (54,828).  He is also behind people who are questionable entries Drew Bledsoe (44,611), Kerry Collins (40,922) - two players who also lost in SuperBowls yet have had storied careers also.  I am not saying Collins is going to the Hall, Bledsoe might, but McNabb has thrown less than Collins.  Even someone like Matt Hasselbeck (33,150) is not far behind McNabb, and he is certainly not HoF but at least he has a job.

Interestingly, Kurt Warner (32,344) has thrown 5,000 yards less than McNabb yet when he becomes eligible in 2014 he is a first ballot certainty; he played in 3 superbowls and won one.  Yet he was the man who marshalled the greatest show on turf, and resurrected his career in Arizona where many thought he went to retire, he took a ragtag to the SuperBowl and very nearly got the upset.

People say McNabb deserves it more than Troy Aikman (32,942) yet Aikman won three titles, admittedly more due to having a great back like Emmitt Smith to complement him.

McNabb is in that group like Phil Simms (33,462) who although won a SuperBowl is not going to make it and Simms won a ring.  McNabb also has a career Passer rating of 85.6% , that needs to be nearer to 95% like Brady/Manning will be.

Like Skip Bayless says on First Take, if you have to think about someone being in the Hall of Fame for half a second, chances are they do not deserve it.  Love him or hate him, Brett Favre will be in the Hall of Fame with a click of the fingers.  McNabb may have to wait a bit longer, although depending upon retirements and eligibility he may well scrap in, but if it is the first year it will be surprising.

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