Donovan McNabb, Allen Iverson and Ryan Howard.
An interesting mix of some of the best pro athletes this town has seen recently -- a quarterback who led his team to four NFC title games and a Super Bowl; a guard who won the league MVP and four scoring titles, and took the Sixers to the 2001 NBA Finals; a slugging first baseman who won the NL Rookie of the Year and then the MVP and helped the Phillies to their first playoff appearance in 14 years.
McNabb was asked a question during his news conference today about the city and if he feels like a Philadelphian.
His reply started with how much he loved the city, but turned into a response about the seemingly fickle nature of the fans and whether he feels appreciated as he heads into his 10th season. It also shows that he has a great understanding of the reality of the situation -- winning is the only thing that will satisfy the Philadelphia fan. And he's not wrong, we would say.
"I love the city, I love the fans, I just love everything about it. I don't expect to be going anywhere anytime soon," he said. "Maybe some people want me gone, but that's the better half of the people in Philadelphia. I think that when you look at situations, Iverson and the situation that he's in, it's funny this last year everyone kind of turned on him and wanted him out of here and when he came back they gave him a standing ovation and showed the love that they had for him and their appreciation for what he brought here. For Ryan Howard and struggling early on everybody kind of booed him or talked bad about him. Now that he's in the top echelon in home runs every time he gets up to bat everybody cheers and looks for him to hit a home run. There's mixed emotions no matter what. For all of us we kind of consider ourselves as guys who love being here, willing to do whatever it takes in order to bring a championship here, or just kind of wait for that opportunity for either one of them. Now Ryan Howard and I might be able to get that done."
And then he was asked whether he feels appreciated: "It's nothing that I waste my time on to figure out who loves me and who doesn't. I have more things to worry about. I think that the answer to all of it, if that's the case, is to bring a championship here."
Sam Donnellon has more on this subject in his column in today's Daily News.
Here are additional highlights from McNabb's news conference:
On how it feels to be back this year without having to come back from an injury:
"How does it feel? I mean my anticipation of kind of getting back into the mode in which I'm accustomed to my training regiment and weight lifting program and so on and so on. I was just excited, and at this particular point just kind of the excitement has built up a little bit more and any time you kind of go through a month of training, of pushing yourself and readjusting your workout plan every year to challenge yourself. You know, you come back into camp and test things out. Feels great, so I was obviously excited of not having to worry about anything or rehabbing of some sort, so I'm just kind of waiting until training camp starts, but I do enjoy the time off."
On what he changed about his offseason workouts:
"Working with a new trainer now in Arizona and adding a little bit more stability stuff for balance, and using the legs a little bit more. Obviously, I can do that now because of time off and being able to mentally get through everything last year. I've been doing a lot of baseball training, things that they would go through, and how they incorporate the football thing into it as well."
On how good he feels about the offense can be:
"It's tough to say, but I think with just the things we were able to do last year towards the end has definitely helped us out in so many ways. I think the exciting part for all of us is the fact that we can get the thing clicking and once we get it clicking good things happen to us. Although earlier on in the beginning of the year things looked kind of down and our red zone offense wasn't what we were accustomed to being, we finished in the top 10 in offense and not too many 8-8 teams you'll see doing that. And hopefully we can feed off of that going into this year and guys had a little bit more experience of working with each other all throughout the year, and this offseason, and we can feed off of that in the beginning of the year."
On whether or not he feels his running days are gone:
"When you get older in this game you learn more and more each year and it's not about running and doing all that. If it's called for me to do that then that's what I do. I thought last year I tried to do that, but I felt like I wasn't going anywhere. Now that I feel I have my legs back under me, if that calls for me to do that then I'll do that. I know that I can get away from people. I think that as the experience kind of builds you sit in the pocket a little bit longer going through your reads and have the confidence in the guys up front that they will be able to hold their blocks and you can get it to the open guy."
On how he would feel about having CB Lito Sheppard on the offense:
"When you have your playmakers you use them, and Lito is a great athlete and we all know that. He has a lot of interceptions and if we could turn them into receptions that would be great. I think that for the guys that we have on the offensive side, the ones that we are working with, we make do with what we have and try and make the best of what it is. If we could get Lito to play both sides then that would be good."
On how much faster he thinks this team looks this year:
"It's hard to say. I don't see any difference really. I haven't gotten a chance to see [RB] Lorenzo [Booker] play full pads and kind of move around. I haven't seen DeSean Jackson play on this level with pads. I know what most of our guys can do, you know, [TE] L.J. [Smith] coming back healthy. As far as speed is concerned for our team I wouldn't say that we're faster, we just pretty much have to make plays; that's all."
On whether he feels the window of success, and for a championship, has gotten smaller for the Eagles:
"We go through this every year. I think the window is stuck. It's not closed, and it's not open anymore. We all have to kind of squeeze through and get the job done. It all starts with Andy and kind of works with our offensive line. We don't know how big that window is, it'll break. We'll get the job done and just wait for that opportunity to win it."
On when he assesses how well his team is doing or how good they can be:
"I think it's a week by week thing. I've been through winning seasons where you had double-digit wins, where you felt like you could have won more. I've been through a season where week in and week out in 2004 where we continued to get better and better each week, and who would have thought we would have ended up in the Super Bowl and we did. I've been through years obviously when we finished 8-8 or 5-11 or whatever that may be, where it just felt like nothing seemed to go right. It's kind of hard to say as far as talent is concerned, or us making plays or being consistent or whatever it may be. That's a tough assessment to make at this point, that's something that as the season ends you look at it and reevaluate everything."