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Donovan McNabb

The NFL Draft's appearance in Philadelphia brought many names to mind: Rocky Balboa, Benjamin Franklin, William Penn. But perhaps the most popular man on the streets of the City of Brotherly Love last week was Donovan McNabb. The Eagles' star quarterback for 11 seasons, McNabb was back in the spotlight, with football centering itself in Philly for the week. ThePostGame slipped through the swarm of autograph-seeking fans to spend a few minutes with the six-time Pro Bowler, who reminisced on his relationship with local fans, rivalry with Michael Strahan, high school basketball career with Antoine Walker, playing for Jim Boeheim at Syracuse and retiring in a similar manner as Tony Romo. The 40-year-old also discussed how he has contributed to the development of nephew Darnell Nurse, a rising star for the Edmonton Oilers.

ThePostGame: I'm at an event, and I hear people start talking like, "Five's here, Five's here." People start saying that on the street and everyone just knows exactly what they're talking about here?
DONOVAN McNABB: That's the name. There's no more Donovan. It's just Five. The exciting part about it is I spent over a decade here and to get out and see the faces who supported me, all of the fans who truly backed everything we were able to accomplish, and they are supporting Carson [Wentz] and the rest of those guys. It's true fans, I love the fans of Philadelphia. Everything that we were able to do is because of our fans. And the same goes even when we're no longer playing. You love to come back and see some of the familiar faces.

TPG: This may come as a shock to you, but Philly fans are pretty opinionated.
MCNABB: Really? You know that's new to me. I just didn't feel that vibe when I was here.

It didn't matter if it was game situation or during the week. That's what being a fan is about. Before I was drafted, I was a big Bears fan. I was real opinionated of the decisions that were made after they won the Super Bowl. Now I'm on the other side. It's just the things that happen and you just appreciate they're showing love and appreciation for what we're doing.

TPG: So I grew up a Giants fan.
MCNABB: I know your opinion.

TPG: You guys were so good during that early 2000s era, taking the team to NFC Championship Games, and even as much as I disliked the Eagles ... 
MCNABB: Appreciate you telling me that. This interview is over. Nah, I'm kidding.

TPG: … It seemed like this media would tear into you and you seemed to take it in stride all the time. I know it's cliché, but how were you able to withstand that in a city like this?
MCNABB: One thing that I've always understood is no matter what you say, it's not going to affect me accomplishing my dream. I always know they may feel one thing one day and things may change to the next. And the way you change that is by going out and being very successful and continuing to work hard and put the product out there on the field. That's what football is all about. You're going to have ups and downs. You're going to overcome some adversities, but it's the consistency that stands strong. And if we're able to go out every week and play well, play at that elite level and be very competitive in what we do, good things will happen at the end, and that's something that we did over a decade. We had some down years, we had some years where guys got hurt. We weren't as good as those great years, but more than not, we were very successful and we were able to accomplish great things.

Michael Strahan, Donovan McNabb

TPG: What Giant drove you the most crazy?
MCNABB: There was guy, he had just like a gap between his teeth. He's like on every TV network it seems. That Strahan guy, I didn't like him too much. I think he sacked me 14 times, seven more than any other quarterback that he's played against and he never asked me to do his Hall of Fame speech, which I was a little upset and pissed off about, but he did mention my offensive tackle John Runyan, so that took a little pressure off him. But we always had great battles and it wasn't a long ride, so we always felt like we needed to beat them down, so we could get home quickly and talk about it during the week.

TPG: I thought you were going to say he hasn't invited you on to his TV show.
MCNABB: Well, we worked together at Fox, and we had ongoing battles talking about each other, over our suits. We had a great time. I'm so happy for him and the thing he's able to do off the field now. Now that the game is over, he's kind of that model of what you want to get accomplished when retirement happens. Good Morning America, he's like the face of Good Morning America and he was on Mike and Kelly [Live with Kelly and Michael] and he's on the pregame show for Fox, the postgame show. He's everywhere. It seems like every time you look up, Strahan's doing something.

TPG: Did you talk to him off the field while you guys were playing?
MCNABB: I did. We communicated a lot. We did a Campbell's Soup commercial. We did a Dr Pepper commercial, and we would always spend time off the field, not talking about football, but talking about things we wanted to accomplish when we were all done, talking about our legacy, life after football, the next step. When he decided to go into the media and he's become a face, not just from the sports standpoint, but for everyday people.

TPG: Do you still eat Campbell's Chunky Noodle Soup?
MCNABB: I don't.

TPG: You grew out of it?
MCNABB: Well, checks stopped coming in. Nah, just kidding. I grew up on Campbell's. That's when I wasn't getting paid. I'm a father now. I got four kids of my own. The kids get sick, you go and get some soup and make them feel better. If it's Campbell's, Progresso, whatever it may be, hey, whoever wants to have me as their face, I'm available. I eat everything.

TPG: Who taught you more when you were going from college to the pros, Jim Boeheim or Andy Reid?
MCNABB: (Laughs) Definitely not Boeheim. It was Paul Pasqualoni and Kevin Rogers. We focus so much on the end, but there's always a starting block and there's a midpoint. I had John Torella, who was my seventh and eighth grade coach, who kind of led me into this whole football thing and kind of allowed me to just be an athlete and have fun and make plays for the team, and we were successful. Then getting into high school and Frank Lenti, where I learned the ins and outs of the game. The intricacies, the x's and o's. Getting to college and you get more advance training on the run and Kevin Rogers and Paul Pasqualoni taught me that and prepared me for the professional aspect and life after. Going with Andy, we were able to narrow a lot of different things down in order to be a great quarterback. There was a process for me. It wasn't just one particular guy. There were a group of men that were very involved in everything I was able to accomplish as a sports figure.

TPG: College football, you have these 110-player rosters. College basketball, you have more like 12-15. What was your relationship like with Coach Boeheim? Did you guys ever talk one-on-one?
MCNABB: Yeah, we talked one-on-one. We have a great relationship. I always say he's the worst coach because he doesn't know how to evaluate talent because I didn't play much. You give credit to everything he was able to accomplish. He was one of the winningest coaches in the NCAA until obviously what happened a couple years ago. His wins stand alone. They speak for themselves. He's been able to get to the national championship three times. He's been in the Final Four the last couple years, two times in the last five years. It says a lot about him. He's well-deserving of everything he's received thus far, and I think he'll receive a lot more.

TPG: It feels like you don't see the basketball and football crossover and multi-sport guys as much anymore. I know Jameis Winston did play baseball ...
MCNABB: You rarely see the basketball/football. With myself, Antonio Gates and Julius Peppers

TPG: But Antonio Gates didn't even go to school for football.
MCNABB: Most guys don't. Being from a small school [Kent State], he still averaged a high amount of points. Sometimes, for big guys like that, you just don't see the NBA in your future. I think Antonio Gates is like 6-4, 6-5, and when you look at the 6-4, 6-5 guys, they're point guards now. Two-guards are like 6-5, 6-6" and threes and fours are 6-8, 6-9. Antonio Gates playing a point guard position, I don't think it would happen. Playing a two-guard position, that'd be tough. But it worked out well for him in football. He may become a future Hall of Famer. I know he'll be the best or the second-best tight end to ever play in a San Diego uniform behind Kellen Winslow. I think he made the right decision.

TPG: There is so much specialized training right now when guys are younger in basketball and sports in general.
MCNABB: It's funny, but growing up, you didn't have the guru aspect. A lot of these quarterbacks are going to see the gurus and working out at a young age, at 10 and 11, and working out with a personal trainer. And that's the parents. The parents are doing way too much. Then for basketball, these guys are playing AAU from the age of 8 to pretty much the age of 18. So you see them at the collegiate level and some of them have hit the wall. You're like, "Wow, this kid can play, but how much is he gonna continue to grow?" We see so many of them hit that wall and the potential's no longer there and what you see is what get. It's different from when I was growing to where they are now. There's so much that goes into it. It's like, are you playing on this club team or AAU team or have been to Elite 11? Have you been invited to ABCD Camp, Nike Camp, all that stuff, whereas before, when I came out, it was like we're going to this high school to recruit this kid. If we like him, we're gonna offer him a scholarship, not kind of watch him play in this whole tournament of top players. That's the world we live in.

TPG: How did you match up with Antoine Walker in high school?
MCNABB: Oh, I was better. He knew it. I knew it. Toine, you're talking about a 6-8 phenom, a guy who grew faster than he expected. I remember when I was a freshman, we had a summer game, where all the incoming freshmen played together. He was sitting underneath the basket, and he's standing at about 6-5, 6-6, long and skinny. And he's standing there and I'm just meeting guys that are going to be at the same school as me. We're playing in a summer league versus other schools. I'm like, "Hey man, you playing?" And he's like, "I'm thinking about what school I'm gonna go to." I didn't know anything about him. He was already one of the top eighth graders coming out, and I'm like, "Hey man, you should go play at Mount Carmel." He's like, "I'm thinking about it." Then all of a sudden, we kind of go in together, and we see each other and we just kind of talk from there. He evolved into one of the top ten players in the country. And then going to Kentucky and beating me in the national championship game, which I'm a little upset with at this point because that was a ring I would have had. But great friend, I'm happy to see what he's doing now, working with the SEC Network. I'm happy with him.

TPG: This is not news to you. He obviously had some financial issues when he was playing. Did you guys cross paths in terms of banging idea off each other, in terms of how to handle the spotlight you were in at about the same time?
MCNABB: We had communicated about different things going on off the field. I don't get into people's financial aspects of things unless it's brought to my attention. I obviously knew about it, but we just talked about a few things in terms of direction to go in. He's working with the SEC Network. We had talked about the media standpoint of just giving back in that aspect, showing your knowledge of the game and being able to express that to a lot of the listeners and viewers. I think he's done a great job. I'm happy for him. He's back on track. Here's a guy who was so talented, but I think it kind of overweighed his intelligence of the game and now, he can be able to express it there.

TPG: Do you still talk to him now?
MCNABB: I do. We reflect each other and talk back and forth on Facebook. We see each other when I go back home to Chicago. I'm just happy for him.

TPG: Correct me if I'm wrong, but your nephew, Darnell Nurse, is an NHL player.
MCNABB: Yeah, he's in the second round. They just got out of the first round. I went to watch him in San Jose against the Sharks, and I'll be going to Anaheim to watch him play.

TPG: How active are you in following that career?
MCNABB: It's funny. My brother doesn't have any kids, which, I'm glad at this point because he's older than me. Don't rush into that. But my wife's side, you're talking about Darnell, I've been very supportive of everything he's been able to accomplish. He came to me -- I remember when he was born -- he came and trained with me at the age of 12. Every year, he came and trained, then he was drafted in the OHL, the [third] pick overall, then in the NHL, I think he was like [seventh]. He's continued to grow and gotten better. His sister plays [basketball] at the University of Connecticut. She's got two rings at this particular point, they would have had three this year, but they ended up losing to Mississippi State. Then my other niece plays hockey for the University of Wisconsin, who just lost in the national championship game.

TPG: And this is your wife's family? You have nothing to do with these genes?
MCNABB: I do! Hey man, where they are is because of me too. No, but I'm very supportive of all my family members, my nieces and nephews, and I've got kids of my own. It's just fun to watch them grow and to see what they're about.

TPG: How can you give them advice about being a professional athlete?
MCNABB: It's not so much about being a professional athlete. It's about being driven and goal-oriented. I think it starts at a young age and for them, they want to be the best they can possibly be. If you write it down and look at it each and every day and ask yourself, "Did I do anything to achieve that goal?" And if not, continue to work hard. And if you have the opportunity to play professionally like Darnell, rewrite those. Continue to push yourself. See who it is out there who you want to challenge yourself. If it's the Sidney Crosbys out there or whoever he has on his team, [Connor] McDavid, who's a future star. But he's a defenseman. He's like the goon. You want to be well known, go ahead and knock someone out every now and then.

TPG: You didn't get to do that.
MCNABB: Well, he's been fighting a little bit. But in the playoffs, you fight, you might get suspended. Save some of that money because they will fine you heavy there.

TPG: Tony Romo, you played against him, watching him the way his career played out and his career ending abruptly, is there a feeling he left something on the table, retiring now?
MCNABB: It always happens when you retire. You never want to go out that way. I did. I played with Minnesota. We weren't too good and after that, I decided to retire. He wished he would have played. And he's had multiple surgeries and issues and at some point, you have to say I'm done. As Marshawn [Lynch] did, throw your cleats up on the wire and ride out.

TPG: Who is coming back, by the way ...
MCNABB: I would like to see him get up there and grab those things off the wire. The whole thing about it, everyone does it different. You have Jerome Bettis, who went off on a chariot, winning the championship and you decide to retire. Or like Tony Romo or myself, it's been great it's been real, it's time to move on now. I think he'll look back on his career and be proud of everything he's accomplished, but now it's a new chapter in his book.

McNabb spoke to ThePostGame on behalf of FedEx. As part of the "FedEx Air & Ground Players of the Draft," the company donated $5,000 to the USO in the name of the first quarterback and running back selected last week (Mitch Trubisky and Leonard Fournette, totaling $10,000).

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