American football player Donovan McNabb lives a divisive life. He’s never done so on purpose, but scandal seems to follow the former National Football League and Pro Bowl quarterback wherever he goes.
Drunk driving in multiple instances. Famous friction with a teammate. Termination from ESPN after sexual harassment allegations. McNabb hasn’t always made the right choices, but he has made financially sound ones.
When he was first drafted into the NFL from Syracuse, Philadelphia Eagles fans booed the pick from the rafters. He can laugh in all of their cheesesteak stuffed faces now. The retired NFL quarterback is still worth millions.
McNabb’s career may be one of controversy, but controversy usually stems from good stories. McNabb’s life is full of unexpected turns, beginning with his decision to go to the NFL instead of the NBA.
Early Life & College Career
Donovan Jamal McNabb was born on November 25, 1976, when Stephen King’s “Carrie” was No. 1 at the box office. McNabb was scary good at Mount Carmel High School in Chicago, Illinois, and played college ball in New York at Syracuse University.
I know some other players who’d say the same thing about McNabb, but we’ll get to that soon.
McNabb was good at college football, too. The QB finished fifth in Heisman Trophy voting in 1998 and won Big East Offensive Player of the Year. He was the second-overall selection in the 1999 NFL Draft the following year.
Philadelphia fans were infamously not happy to see the QB.
Though the fans didn’t deserve it, McNabb would soon have the Eagles flying once again.
NFL Career & Playoff Trouble
McNabb quickly got the fledgling Eagles off the ground. After a rookie season spent finding his wings, McNabb reached his first Pro Bowl of six in 2000.
McNabb was disappointed, but he would be even more disappointed the following season.
After finally winning an NFC Conference Championship against the bound-to-lose-eventually Atlanta Falcons, McNabb and the Eagles swooped into Super Bowl XXXIX.
Philly was heavily favored to lose against Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. ESPN picked the Patriots. Las Vegas picked the Patriots. Even McNabb’s mom picked the Patriots.
Just kidding about McNabb’s mom. I’m not kidding about the rest, though, and they were all correct.
Bill Belichick, Tom Brady, and the rest of the Patriots were too much for McNabb and Terrell Owens to handle. And hey, speaking of T.O. …
A Brief Aside Concerning Terrell Owens
Donovan McNabb was one of many NFL players who didn’t like Terrell Owens.
Owens had a hot head and a loud mouth — two things that rarely go unpunished in professional football locker rooms.
The stars had multiple altercations on and off the field, which made for great tabloid drama. That’s what the T.O. Show was all about — drama. I can’t help but feel McNabb was more of a victim of T.O.’s fame than anything, though he certainly played a role in their spats.
While it is confirmed that McNabb told T.O. to STFU in the huddle one time, reports of McNabb vomiting in the Super Bowl remain unconfirmed. This brings me back to…
Back to McNabb’s NFL Career
McNabb was a household name well before his Super Bowl appearance in 2004. Unfortunately for him, his stock would steadily drop after that season.
2005 was terrible, but 2006 was much better. Unfortunately for McNabb, he tore his ACL against the Tennesee Titans in that year after starting the season strong. He watched an aging Jeff Garcia lead the Eagles to a now-familiar NFC Championship loss, this time to Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints.
McNabb came back the next year and led the Eagles to more winning seasons and NFC Championship losses (that time to the Arizona Cardinals). After a Wild Card loss to the Dallas Cowboys in 2009, it was time for McNabb to go.
The timing of the McNabb trade left heads itching. The 2009 season was a huge comeback for McNabb, who put up his best numbers in years and made his last Pro Bowl team. The Washington Redskins (now the more accurately named “Football Team”) gladly took the aging McNabb and wasted his final two years. Well, just one year.
In 2010, McNabb threw more interceptions than touchdowns for Washington. The Minnesota Vikings wasted McNabb’s final season.
McNabb was traded to Minnesota after one season in Washington. He didn’t perform much better in purple and put out a pitiful 1-5 record as a Viking. McNabb didn’t take another snap after 2011. He officially retired an Eagle in 2013.
Since then, McNabb has gone the familiar route of TV analyst. He’s worked for the NFL Network, FOX Sports, and ESPN, but controversy has followed McNabb off the field and into his studio career.
Retirement, Family & Television Career
Aside from appearing on It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, the football quarterback has been working on television projects since 2000.
His most memorable sponsor was Campbell’s Soup. The ads made his mother famous.
His mother Wilma isn’t the only steadfast woman in McNabb’s life. He’s been married to his Syracuse sweetheart Raquel Nurse for 18 years. The couple has four children: Alexis, Sariah, Donovan Jr., and Devin James.
After retirement, McNabb appeared regularly on FOX, NFL Network, and ESPN. In 2017, McNabb was suspended from all networks while claims McNabb sexually harrassed an NFL Network wardrobe stylist were investigated. In 2018, McNabb was ultimately fired for his involvement in the scandal.
McNabb will have a hard time finding work in sports media again. McNabb is one of the lucky ones. He doesn’t have to worry about working again if he doesn’t want to.
Donovan McNabb Net Worth
Despite the ups and downs, close defeats, near misses, torn ACLs, and jobs lost – Donovan McNabb is still worth $35 million today.
There was a time when he was worth $90 million over six years. Those days are gone, but McNabb cleared the way for quarterbacks such Michael Vick and Lamar Jackson to make at least that much and more.
McNabb’s career is shrouded in controversy, but his football legacy shouldn’t be shrouded at all. Donovan McNabb was an exceptional quarterback. He never quite breached greatness, but he flew much closer to the sun than most Eagles.
He may not be a champion in Philly, but he’s certainly one of the greats.
If Donovan McNabb ever did make it to the Hall of Fame, the decision would be crowded in controversy. Nothing would be more appropriate for the NFL career of Donovan McNabb.