Donovan McNabb Eagles jerseys at FedEx Field
There were hundreds and hundreds of burgundy and gold No. 5 jerseys in FedEx Field on Saturday night. There were as many if not more No. 5 jerseys in whatever the Ravens call their dreadful color scheme. And yet there was another set of folks wearing No. 5 jerseys for a team that wasn't even playing in that stadium on that night.
Yes, the McNabulists were out in force, Eagles fans who retain such a fierce loyalty to Donovan McNabb that they're willing to root for an NFC East rival so long as it's not against Philadelphia.
"I'll root for him except for the two games they play against the Eagles," said Victor Harmon, one of at least 10 people I saw wearing Eagles McNabb gear inside The Fed. "I'm a Philly fan, and I'm a McNabb guy. Most Philly guys didn't like McNabb, but I just think he's a classy guy and a good quarterback."
Wandering through stadiums, you often see random jerseys with no connection to the game at hand, jerseys for the Cowboys or Falcons, the Steelers or Browns. This was different. These jerseys were sending a message.
"I'm a Philadelphia fan, but I'm a bigger McNabb fan," said Kelly Lawrence, 49, of Hampton. "To be honest with you, if it's not Philadelphia, I'd rather see McNabb get a ring, even with Washington."
"That works for me," said Doug Newbill, a Redskins fan who brought Lawrence to the game.
"As long as it's not with the Cowboys, I'm ok," Lawrence clarified.
"That's why I brought him," Newbill said, almost giddy at the idea of an Eagles fan rooting for the Redskins.
It's sort of a strange thing, huh? I can't think of a current Washington athlete who would carry his fanbase with him if he joined a rival team. Maybe Ovechkin, I guess, but I don't know of many Ovie fans who would root for, say, the Flyers to win a Stanley Cup no matter what ex-Caps were on their roster. Wizards fans were given a similar test with Antawn Jamison this year, and I don't think any of them were hoping for a Cavs championship. But the McNabb loyalists went through a lot with their guy, and they aren't done yet.
"I'm an Eagles fan, and I'm bitterly conflicted," said Lisa Struckmeyer, an Eagles fan attending her first NFL game. "The Redskins are my mortal enemy since childhood, so I'm sitting here in conflict."
"It feels like Donovan McNabb is a part of our family almost, so we follow him wherever he goes," said her son, Matthew, aged 11.
His mom was wearing a McNabb throwback -- "she was around when they were wearing those jerseys, she's not as young as she looks," Matthew told me -- to try to disguise it's Eagleness, but she said no one had given her any problems. Others said the same.
"If I was wearing a Redskins jersey at the Linc, I'd probably already have been in two fights and be soaked in beer," said Sam Whitfield of the District, who was wearing McNabb's Eagles shirt.
So why was he at a Redskins-Ravens game wearing white and green?
"I root for McNabb to do well and for the Redskins to fail," he said. "He's not the whole team. It takes more than one player, right?"
Of course, even among the McNabulists, there were some cynics. Steve Davidock is an Eagles fan from Western Pennsylvania who was in town visiting his father-in-law; he called himself "a big McNabb fan," but that loyalty has its limits.
"[Philly] hates him, because he didn't win a Super Bowl," Davidock said. "Good luck, Washington," he added with a smile.
August 23, 2010; 11:43 AM ET
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