FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - Bernard Hopkins took a loud lap around Radio Row yesterday at the media headquarters for Super Bowl XLIV.
At first, the 45-year-old prize fighter from Philadelphia promoted his long-awaited rematch with 41-year-old Roy Jones Jr. set for April 3 in Las Vegas.
Eventually, at Hopkins' urging, the subject turned to Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb, who was not far away on South Beach being interviewed by the NFL Network about tomorrow's title game between the New Orleans Saints and Indianapolis Colts.
As always in recent years, Hopkins ripped the Eagles' quarterback.
"The people now say, 'Take him to Arizona, he has a house there,' " Hopkins said. "But my thing is, I've been telling you this since after the [Eagles' 2005] Super Bowl [loss]. At the end of the day, you have a guy that is a front-runner. You have a guy that doesn't even give a hint that he's upset. He smiles. He doesn't show any type of feeling of 'Damn, we're so close and we kicked the bucket.' "
McNabb could not be reached for comment yesterday, but Rich Burg, a publicist for the Eagles' quarterback, said Hopkins' anger stems from a meeting between the two men at the NovaCare Complex earlier in this decade.
Hopkins attended a practice in 2004. Burg said McNabb was unaware Hopkins was visiting until a brief meeting before the practice. Burg said the meeting was too brief for Hopkins, who felt shunned. Burg worked for the Eagles' media relations department at the time.
"If there is anyone who is craving attention, it's Bernard Hopkins," Burg said. "He tries to get it all the time by using Donovan's name. Donovan has shown his class by ignoring the entire thing."
Bob Lange, the San Francisco 49ers' media relations director, stood nearby while Hopkins made his statements yesterday and told the same story as Burg about the meeting between McNabb and Hopkins. Lange, who worked for the Eagles at the time, added that former Eagles receiver Terrell Owens became close with Hopkins.
Hopkins said if McNabb had better body language during a game that Eagles fans would like him more.
"Fake me out," Hopkins said. "Throw Gatorade. People would look at that - even if it's an act - and say to themselves . . . 'He's upset because they just blew it just like I'm upset as a fan.' They would say 'He relates to the fans.' He doesn't relate to the fans by his body language. The fans can't feel you."
As Hopkins continued, the accusations became nastier.
"When you have that smile and you come out of the tunnel doing the Michael Jackson dance and the score is zero-zero - are you kidding me?" said the oldest man to ever hold a middleweight boxing title. "You're dancing and doing all this moonwalk and the score is zero-zero and you're saying, 'I'm ready.' I told people McNabb needed to go three years ago and they were, 'Oh, you're hard on McNabb.' Now the same people are saying, 'Oh, you're right. He needs to go, he needs to go.' "
Hopkins suggested that Michael Vick should have been playing quarterback instead of McNabb. He also claimed that reports that McNabb supported the surprising signing of Vick last summer were orchestrated by the Eagles' personnel department.
"That was a PR move to make McNabb look like he's not this selfish kind of guy and wants all the attention," Hopkins said. "So the boys up . . . in personnel were like, 'Oh, that's McNabb [who wants Vick here.]' Everybody knows that's not McNabb's personality. They wanted to make McNabb look like he's a team player. No he's not. It's the opposite of what McNabb do.
"If Michael Vick gets in there and he starts playing well and McNabb is playing [lousy] - duh, don't you want to win the game? You're going to keep McNabb where? On the bench."
When asked if he had ever talked to McNabb, Hopkins said the Eagles' quarterback twice tried to avoid him, including in 2007 when the Super Bowl was last in Miami and the two men were at a party being thrown by the NBA's Shaquille O'Neal.
"He came in and he had his crutches because he had just had an operation that year," Hopkins said. "Maybe it was his leg, but he looked down at the floor and walked away. Maybe it was because his leg hurt."
He said last year in Philadelphia they were in the same location again.
"He seen me and put his head down and I went right by him," Hopkins claimed. "I don't have anything personal where I'm going to step to the man. I'm too professional for that. I'm speaking from a fan point of view, and also an athlete, that knows and senses when you don't have any heart.
"Fans don't get into what I know as an athlete. As an athlete, I know how you're built - and he knows I know. You know what McNabb wanted to do to me two years ago - 'Shhhh. I'm trying to steal this money. What are you doing, man? Look, ain't we black?' "
Hopkins finished his rant by accusing McNabb of believing he was above his teammates.
"He's the guy inside the house who gets the extra food, the extra clothes, he gets treated a little better," Hopkins said. "Now, the guys that are outside picking up the corn - they get treated a little different outside. But the house all of a sudden got upset, because he's not playing well and [McNabb] wants to know, 'Why you all doing this to me? . . . Why are people in personnel talking about me? I'm one of you, right?' Are you kidding me?
"So he . . . goes on HBO and you talk about racism. He's going to go and speak about racism, about who has to go above and beyond because they're African American, than [the] other quarterbacks. . . . He's right about that. [But he's] the wrong messenger.
"You know when O.J. became black? When he was facing life. That's when he became black. That's what these guys do. They get wrapped up in this world. See, Tiger Woods knows he's black now. All that other bull, 'I'm half this and I'm half that.' - all right, Tiger, what color are you now?"