Donovan McNabb hopes other Black quarterbacks don’t switch positions when they’re encouraged to do so because of their athleticism.
Staying at quarterback worked out well for McNabb. He made six Pro Bowls after being drafted No. 2 overall by the Philadelphia Eagles in 1999 and led the team to five NFC championship games in 11 seasons.
His career may have turned out different if he didn’t go to Syracuse, however.
“When I was getting recruited out of high school, for a lot of the scouts that would come in and watch the film and they’ll get a chance to sit in front of you and evaluate you a little bit as you’re talking to them, there was questions,” McNabb said on the AP Pro Football Podcast. ”‘Have you ever thought about playing wide receiver? Have you ever thought about playing running back? If you came up to campus, do you think that you can compete with some of our quarterbacks?’”
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McNabb never thought another position because he only played quarterback. He didn’t consider schools that wanted him to play running back or wide receiver.
“It seems like they get a little upset that you turn them down,” he said. “They say: ‘If you ever think about playing another position, please put us on the list to be the first call.’”
McNabb and Pro Football Hall of Famer Warren Moon are among the players who will be featured in the premier of a documentary called “Fear of a Black Quarterback” that airs on Vice TV on Thursday night.
“There was always the question of doubt when you’re a young kid,” McNabb said. “People are telling you that you can be a receiver, running back or you’d be better at linebacker or safety and just kind of killing your dream.”
Lamar Jackson said a scout from the Los Angeles Chargers asked him to run routes at the NFL scouting combine. He refused. The Baltimore Ravens selected Jackson with the 32nd pick in the 2018 draft. He was NFL MVP in his second season.
Several Black QBs say teams aren’t as patient with them in the development process.
“You’re either a starter or you’re out of the league,” said Akili Smith, who was selected by the Cincinnati Bengals one pick after McNabb and lasted just four seasons.
Even the success of Super Bowl champions Russell Wilson and Patrick Mahomes hasn’t convinced McNabb that perception hasn’t changed for Black QBs.
“There’s some positivity but we’ve got to remember this,” McNabb said. “Remember when Russell Wilson got his contract? What was one of the first things that people said? Is he worth more money than Aaron Rodgers? Is he worth more money than Tom Brady?”
McNabb won more games for the Eagles (92-49-1) than any quarterback in franchise history and holds several club records, including most yards passing (32,873) and most touchdowns passes (216). His No. 5 was retired in 2013. Despite the success, his relationship with the fans had ups and downs. It began with hearing boos at the draft from fans who wanted the team to select running back Ricky Williams.
“It’s a portion of people who have thoughts and ideas,” McNabb said.
McNabb says he mentored Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts, who replaced Carson Wentz last December and enters this season as the starter.
“Everywhere he’s been, he’s won,” McNabb said. “I know the work that he put in this offseason and who he worked with and so now he just has to build a chemistry with the coaching staff. You have to be able to build chemistry throughout that offense with the rest of the players. Do they have enough pieces around him to be successful is the question.”