In the Court of Public Opinion

Andy Reid Joe Banner Eagles Front Office Public Opinion

Ah, public opinion. That fickle devil. In many ways — if not in a pure football sense — mass opinion matters in the whole debate about Donovan McNabb. It infiltrates everything.

For example, take Gonzo’s latest piece in the Inquirer, addressed to the Eagles front office:

From a football standpoint, you might not want to hurry. That’s understandable, because it would likely hurt the bargaining process. But if you’re going to take this slowly and mull your options, then you have to accept that more reports like Fox29’s will inevitably surface.

As long as all three quarterbacks remain in town, fans and the media will talk about the situation and wonder who exactly is in charge down there. You guys may not like it, but that’s the way things are at the moment, and there’s really nothing you can do about it until you pen the final chapter of a tale we’ve all grown tired of reading.

Gonzo’s right. The truth is, until the front office definitively closes the door on the McNabb era or gives him a new contract and sends Kevin Kolb on his merry way (plus Michael Vick as the inconvenient sideshow), no one is going to stop talking about the Eagles QB Clusterf%$k.

Even during next season.

This is one of the reasons I think it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to stick with McNabb another year. You have an offseason of turmoil and second-guessing. A season where McNabb is on the edge of his seat the whole time. And then another offseason where you have to go through all of this crap again — except by then the team risks losing Kevin Kolb, McNabb’s value has gone down, and the only way to trade him is to franchise him (and that always works out harmoniously).

Without any definitive answer, the Philly public and media hounds are going to continue to ask the same questions. Has Andy Reid said McNabb is the starting QB next year at least 100 times? Yes. Will anyone ever stop asking? No.

Want another reason public opinion matters? Two words for you: Brian. Dawkins.

The front office knows that they screwed up last year with Dawk. They kept reiterating that he would be in midnight green for 2009. Then when they low-balled Dawkins and let him walk to Denver, the entire city was up in arms. Of course, guys like Andy and Joe Banner tried to spin it as Dawkins left to take huge money elsewhere, but everyone knew that wasn’t exactly the case.

You would think the front office would have learned from that public relations disaster  (although the hole at safety is something to consider too). Donovan is not as loved as Brian Dawkins, but the overall point is the same. Either put up with the public backlash and media circus or be upfront and decisive about what’s going to happen next year.

Another problem: there’s been no evidence of a locker room split since T.O. left, but with so much up in the air, it’s tough to rule that out in this situation either.

This team has lost so much veteran leadership over the past few years. Guys like Westbrook and Runyan and Dawkins, who stood toe to toe with Donovan in the locker room and on the field, aren’t here any more. Not only is there a lack of leadership to keep everyone unified and quiet, there are clearly a lot of young players who probably wouldn’t mind turning the page.

We all know Celek and Kolb are best buddies. Sheldon probably wouldn’t mind saying some of the things Westbrook just went on air about. I’m sure there are other, typically quieter personalities who also have a say. You know DeSean wouldn’t stay quiet long. All it takes is one public quote, one anonymous locker room presence, and everything unravels to 2005… (shudder)

The point is not that such a thing will happen. Maybe the Eagles keep all three quarterbacks and win the Super Bowl. Or maybe the status quo remains for a year and Donovan’s trade value simply decreases. But nothing exists in a vacuum — not even “purely football” decisions.

As long as the Eagles don’t resolve their QB situation, it’s not an embarrassment of riches — as Andy would like you to believe. The situation is more like a ticking time bomb. The sooner it’s defused, the better.