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Saturday, February 04, 2006

Is Eagles Team Unity the Real Worry?
Yesterday, cornerback Sheldon Brown suggested that Donovan McNabb "move on." If the QB hadn't been so candid in interviews this week, he wouldn't have become aswirl in controversy, he told Daily News Live on Comcast SportsNet. "So he's bringing it upon himself. It should be over with. He should be ready to move on to 2006 and helping the team go to the playoffs."

Is this another sign of a possible rift between the quarterback and teammates?

Brown also made news by confirming that McNabb and Terrell Owens nearly had a fight in November 2004. And, of course, that comes on the heels of McNabb making headlines by using the phrase "black-on-black crime" to characterize criticism by Owens and local NAACP chief J. Whyatt Mondesire. But a Henry Ford quote applies: "History is bunk." What matters is where the team goes from here.

As I'm writing this, Ray Didinger is addressing the same issue on WIP: "When you read his comments, you realize, there's some issues at the Nova Care Center. And that stuff has to be resolved." To think tensions will dissipate with time, he said, "That's naive." He went on: "Before they do anything else this year, I think the coaches and the players have to get together and they have to have a clearing-of-the-air session. ... I think there are deep internal issues within that team that have to be addressed and clarified and settled, to some degree, before the team can go back out on the field."

Didinger is talking about comments like what McNabb told reporters during a Super Bowl Week interview for Chunky Soup. When the QB said, "They wanted him back. So what message does that send to you?" it sounded as if he still harbored resentment that players like Jeremiah Trotter lobbied to have T.O. reinstated after his suspension. More than a dozen players also attended the exiled Owens' birthday bash."

Personally, this is a sign for my teammates... . That person you may smile and talk to every day, that same person can talk about you in the media or publicly, or talk to somebody else about how he doesn't like you or is jealous of you or whatever it might be," McNabb said. "... Now for me, it's time to see how my teammates react to that. We've obviously seen how they reacted to it during the season."

Wrote the Inquirer's Ashley Fox: "Asked to clarify his remarks, McNabb said he wished some of his teammates had come to him directly to explain their support of Owens, so he didn't have to hear their comments through the media. He said the communication within the Eagles' locker room last year was poor, and that repairing those lines will be key to the Birds' success in 2006."

Are these feelings likely to fester? One reason to worry is that McNabb says he'll forgive, but he won't forget. He can't seem to forget that some yahoos booed Eagles management when he was drafted. (No, they weren't booing him in particular ... they would have booed any other future Pro Bowler who wasn't Ricky Williams.) He likens criticism to "crime." And, in fact, the front office did the same thing, banishing Owens mostly for remarks. Sounds like a situation where mistrust and resentments could linger, if not build, especially among proud players with reasonable views they could be afraid to express.

Or, are these worries "hysteria, as usual," as the Eagles' Dave Spadaro writes? Funny, but in "Team Effort to Build Mojo in the Locker Room," he mentions "quiet, mature cool" Brown as one of the team's leaders.

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