TRUTH IN advertising: After writing an entire column about Donovan McNabb and the origins of the acknowledged chip on his shoulder, the realization suddenly hit: I don't care and I don't think you do, either.

There was an exploration of the question of why, exactly, McNabb has been able to rescue himself from the depths in the last 3 weeks after being benched at halftime against Baltimore. It is a fine enough question if you're killing time between now and Sunday, but that is the overriding point:

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That nobody cares why.

That people only care about Sunday.

Yes, Andy Reid hit McNabb between the eyes when he benched him against the Ravens. Yes, McNabb was playing awful when the decision was made - awful in that game, and awful in the game before against Cincinnati, and pretty tepid in the two games before that. And, yes, he has been much better - much more accurate, much less reckless with the ball - since coming back.

But trying to determine the cause and effect here, like trying to read McNabb's mind for the last decade, is a sucker's game. And it is exhausting. And it is impossible in the end. So why bother?

Sunday, then.

Only Sunday.

On that day, McNabb will take the Eagles out against the Redskins. The Eagles will be favored in Landover, Md. They will be attempting to continue the keep-hope-alive thing that has fueled them for the last three games, all victories. That's it.

Wondering about what is fueling McNabb at this point is irrelevant. Trying to predict whether he is going to be back as the Eagles' quarterback next year, back for an 11th season, is still a premature waste of time. It is a results business and the results aren't yet in and that's it.

Sunday, then

Another result.

McNabb did his weekly press conference yesterday and the whole benching-as-motivation thing again was brought up. After the Monday night game, he told his ESPN buds that he didn't understand why he needed to be made the "scapegoat" in the Baltimore game, neatly permitted by his inquisitors to sidestep the point that he was playing as badly as he has ever played in the NFL. But that's what friends are for.

Anyway, post-scapegoat, it was pointed out to McNabb that some of his teammates have said that McNabb's benching ignited a sense of responsibility in the players around him. To which, McNabb replied:

"For me to be used as the guy to motivate other guys, I really don't think that was needed, but I guess we've all seen what happened and have learned from it and moved on. It's a different situation when it's really not you that's being the guy to motivate everyone else. I think, in light of it, I guess we're all playing well together."

Interpret that as you will.

Me? I'll just watch the game.

He said, "I've been playing with a chip on my shoulder since the beginning of the season. I didn't need any added motivation to come out and play well by any means. I've been a part of a lot of different situations, so finding motivation for me is not a problem."

Why the beginning of the season?

"Because I wanted to play better than I played last year," McNabb said.

This is included out of a sense of reportorial obligation and for no other reason. McNabb speaks and we type, same as it ever was. But it is all just words.

Because the chip on his shoulder - really a boulder on his shoulder - is older than that. You would need a mass spectrometer to measure it exactly - and you can get a used one online for $18,500 (I checked) - but it goes back a long way. It might be 2 years ago, the last time the Eagles talked to him about a contract extension, it might be 10 years ago, when he was booed on draft day.

It seems as if he has always used criticism as fuel, and the benching was very public criticism, and you can connect the dots yourself. That is, if you still care to connect the dots.

The suspicion is that most people don't have the energy or the inclination.

The guess is that Sunday is all that matters anymore. *

Send e-mail to hofmanr@phillynews.com,

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