Local NAACP head stands by criticism of McNabb

Updated: December 14, 2005, 9:21 PM ET
Associated Press

PHILADELPHIA -- Donovan McNabb is still taking shots -- the latest from an NAACP leader who criticized the quarterback's leadership skills and said he "played the race card" in explaining why he no longer runs the ball.

J. Whyatt Mondesire, who publishes a newspaper for blacks and is the president of the Philadelphia branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, recently wrote that the Eagles' star quarterback failed as a team leader and choked in the Super Bowl.

McNabb responded sharply, but Mondesire hasn't changed his stance.

"He doesn't get it," Mondesire said Wednesday. "If he got it, I wouldn't have written the article."

Mondesire, publisher of the Philadelphia Sunday Sun, criticized McNabb in a column in his newspaper on Dec. 4.

He wrote that McNabb's tendency to run the ball early in his career "not only confused defenses, it also thrilled Eagles fans," but that abandoning that element "by claiming that 'everybody expects black quarterbacks to scramble' not only amounts to a breach of faith but also belittles the real struggles of black athletes who've had to overcome real racial stereotypcasting in addition to downright segregation."

Mondesire said the bottom line is that McNabb is "not that good."

"In essence Donny, you are mediocre at best," Mondesire wrote. "And trying to disguise that fact behind some concocted reasoning that African American quarterbacks who can scramble and who can run the ball are somehow lesser field generals ... is more insulting off the field than on."

McNabb was stunned by Mondesire's comments.

"Obviously, if it's someone else who is not African American, it's racism," McNabb told reporters attending his annual holiday party last Saturday. "But when someone of the same race talks about you because you're selling out because you're not running the ball, it goes back to, 'What are we really talking about here?'

"If you talk about my play, that's one thing. When you talk about my race, now we've got problems. If you're trying to make a name off my name, again, I hope your closet is clean because something is going to come out about you ... I always thought the NAACP supported African Americans and didn't talk bad about them. Now you learn a little bit more."

McNabb's season ended last month when he decided to have surgery for a sports hernia. It's been a miserable year for the five-time Pro Bowl selection, starting with his feud with now-banished wideout Terrell Owens.

Mondesire wrote that McNabb shared the blame for Owens' departure.

"Finally, your failure as a team leader off the field to my mind did as much as anything to exacerbate the debacle that has become synonymous with T.O.'s full name."

Mondesire said the article expressed his opinion of McNabb, not the view of the NAACP. When Rush Limbaugh said on ESPN two years ago that McNabb is overrated because the media wanted to see a black quarterback succeed, the NAACP criticized the conservative commentator and called on him to quit. Limbaugh resigned from ESPN three days later.

Mondesire said McNabb's agent, Fletcher Smith, called him after the story appeared. He returned the call twice, but hasn't spoken to McNabb.

McNabb had a strong start this season, throwing for 1,333 yards and 11 touchdowns while leading the Eagles to a 3-1 record. But he was bothered by injuries and struggled over the next several games before going on injured reserve.

McNabb clearly wasn't the same quarterback who led the Eagles to the NFC championship game the last four years. He threw a costly interception in the fourth quarter in each of his last three games, and had nine picks this season.

Overall, McNabb passed for 2,507 yards, 16 TDs and had a passer rating of 85.0 this season. McNabb was reluctant to leave the pocket this year. He had just 55 yards rushing on 25 carries, including several kneel-downs.

McNabb's problems with Owens dominated the headlines most of the year. Their issues began when Owens dissed McNabb after the Eagles lost to New England in the Super Bowl last February. The two didn't speak for a prolonged period, but performed well on the field together.

Owens was suspended last month for a series of infractions and critical public comments about McNabb and the organization, dating back to his offseason demands for a new contract. An arbitrator later upheld the Eagles' decision to deactivate him for the remainder of the season.

Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press

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