When the notion was raised yesterday that this had been an interesting off-season for Donovan McNabb, he laughed and quickly made an astute point.
"All of them have been interesting," the Eagles quarterback said as he sat on metal bleachers inside the Flyers' Voorhees practice facility. McNabb's one-on-one interviews with selected reporters focused mostly upon his thoughts about the team's decision to use its top pick in the NFL draft on a quarterback.
Compared to the unprovoked attacks he endured from a disgruntled Terrell Owens a few off-seasons ago, this year's McNabb controversy is mild.
Until yesterday, McNabb had not uttered a public word about the Eagles' selection of Kevin Kolb with the 36th overall pick in the draft, but his reaction to the pick had still been analyzed ad nauseam.
By not speaking, it had been suggested that McNabb had spoken volumes.
"Everybody has their opinions," McNabb said. "The answer for me: Was I shocked? Yes. Was I upset? No, not upset to the point where you feel like, 'Oh, my God, my job is in jeopardy.' "
McNabb's shock, like that of so many others who watched the NFL draft, was more a result of the Eagles' decision to draft a quarterback when help seemed to be needed in other places. McNabb said that when the Eagles traded their first-round pick to the Dallas Cowboys, he left his Moorestown home to take his wife and daughter for dinner and ice cream. His brother-in-law informed him that the Eagles had selected Kolb in the second round.
"The first reaction was, 'Really?' " McNabb said. "Your next question is, 'With our first pick?' "
McNabb said his cell phone was flooded with text messages after the selection of the quarterback from the University of Houston.
"Everybody kind of wanted to know what was going on," he said. "The only thing I knew was how many sprinkles I put on my daughter's ice cream."
The quarterback confirmed that he received a voice mail from head coach Andy Reid shortly after the selection of Kolb.
"It was just like he reported," McNabb said. "He said: 'This has nothing to do with you. He was the best available athlete at the time and we felt he could really help our team. We're right there, and this gives us depth at the position.' It wasn't like he said, 'Call me back, let me hear your reaction or tell me what you think about it.' I felt like there was no need for response."
McNabb's overall draft reaction: "I got home after we finished eating ice cream and sat in front of the TV and watched the rest of the draft. We drafted a defensive end and I thought, 'We went quarterback and defensive end, so what are we going to do to help us out now?' "
By now, McNabb meant 2007, when he has every intention of still being the starting quarterback for the Eagles with the hope of winning a Super Bowl.
Reid and McNabb finally talked a few days after the draft, but the quarterback said there was nothing sensational about the conversation.
"It was the same message he left me on the phone," McNabb said. "It wasn't like anything where we were arguing back and forth. It was just the kind of communication we have normally during the year that we usually keep in the room."
The Eagles and McNabb do not seem to be on the same page on everything in this matter. The team said last week that it asked McNabb to address his feelings about Kolb's selection in a written statement. The Eagles said that McNabb, who is still rehabilitating from a torn knee ligament that ended his 2006 season, declined.
"Really? Is that what they said?" McNabb asked. "First of all, that's a shock to me. I'm not here to bash the Eagles at all. I felt like when the time for me to speak was there, I would speak. My main focus is on my rehab and to get myself healthy and ready to go."
So why did McNabb choose yesterday to speak? And why did he do so independently of the Eagles? The media sessions were set up by Rich Burg, a former member of the Eagles' media relations staff who handled McNabb's business during his time with the organization.
McNabb said he was not happy that Burg had been dismissed from the Eagles' staff earlier this off-season.
"It bothered me, yes," McNabb said. "It bothered a lot of us. When you've been working with a guy for eight years of your career - and that's all of my career so far - you build a bond and you build a trust. When you hear something like that happened, the first thing you ask is: Why? You hate to see somebody you've trusted and has worked wonders for you go. That's why I'm working with him now, and we're hoping to change some of the things around that have happened."
Burg said McNabb wanted to promote his inaugural DM5 Celebrity Golf Classic at RiverCrest Golf Club in Phoenixville, which will be part of his annual charity weekend June 14-15 to benefit diabetes research.
McNabb conceded that this interview session was something more.
"I thought this whole thing was pretty comical," McNabb said of the post-draft speculation. "I mean, it seemed like with everything that was said and everybody's reaction, you'd have thought somebody sat down and talked to me or called me on the phone. I was like, 'Wow, I never said anything.' I felt it was time now to speak and get it over with . . . so when minicamp begins, it won't be a distraction to those guys that are out there competing and pushing each other."
McNabb said he would attend the minicamp, but he will not be an active participant.
"I'll be out there as the kind of skinnier coach," he said. "I'll be out there with the red jersey on and going over plays. I'll be talking to the guys and working with Kevin just so he'll see different things happening and the defensive schemes that we'll face. Everyone wants to know about Kevin Kolb. I'm excited to have him."
McNabb said he was looking forward to meeting Kolb, but he was in no hurry to relinquish his job to the kid from Texas. Instead, he was focused on getting back on the field and extending his career with the Eagles.
"I've been running, I've been throwing, and I've been cutting," McNabb said when asked about his continuing rehab. "But it's not like the injury never happened. It's still there. I'm still getting stronger, but I'm not at 100 percent, and that's the way I want to come back."