I’ve been a true Philadelphia Eagles fan since I was a little kid watching Randall Cunningham run, shoot and even kick the ball to help the team win. At the time I was living in Watertown, NY and Syracuse was my favorite college team. Then in 1999, the Eagles hired Andy Reid as head coach, who at the time was an assistant head coach and quarterbacks coach for the Green Bay Packers. Reid’s signing was not well received in Philadelphia, especially after going 3-13 the year before and a coach who came in without much head coaching experience. So when the Eagles drafted Donovan McNabb out of Syracuse, it was like Christmas to me, my favorite player in college was drafted by the Eagles. To my surprise, the crowd at the draft booed McNabb because they thought Ricky Williams would have been a better pick. I bet everyone is sorry about that now with the “smoke cloud” surrounding Williams over the years.

Since Reid and McNabb’s tenure in Philadelphia, they have made the playoffs 7 times, the NFC championship 5 times, and reached the Super Bowl once. Thanks to the front office finally giving McNabb a shot at catcher in Terrell (TO) Owens. McNabb had career numbers that year, but unfortunately, as many teams have learned, TO was not a team player and had to go. Once again, the team was left without true #1 receivers.

Over the years, McNabb has taken a beating for coming out of the pocket and taking penalty hits, including being sacked by the New York Giants 12 times in one game. Ultimately, the Eagles’ front office felt that McNabb’s career might be coming to an end, so in 2007 they selected Kevin Kolb from the University of Houston to be McNabb’s future replacement. Without fail, he endured the same obnoxious welcome McNabb received on draft day. At the time, Eagle fans and other NFL sports analysts thought the Eagles should have looked for a legitimate wide receiver to replace TO. That way, McNabb would have another weapon besides RB Brian Westbrook, and they finally did that last year.

Looking ahead to this summer, the league was eagerly awaiting the return of Michael Vick. No one knew where he would go, and I never would have thought he would be Philly. They already had 3 quarterbacks in McNabb, Kolb and AJ Feeley, and they didn’t see the value in adding a fourth. There were plenty of other teams that could have used Vick’s serve more than the Eagles, but no one really stepped up. Luckily for Vick, with McNabb asking management to give him a chance raised a lot of questions. Does McNabb really want Vick there? Did management do it without asking McNabb first? Does McNabb feel threatened with Vick lurking on his back? What about Kolb and Feeley?

I think that as a player you grow over time. If you look at McNabb’s 1999 draft class, which was supposed to be the second best quarterback class in NFL history, he’s the only one left on the team that drafted him, the rest have all vanished into wonderland. He knows he’s getting old and he wants the one thing every great NFL player wants: a Super Bowl ring, even if it means bringing in Vick to run the Wildcat offense. McNabb’s body has taken a lot of beating to run around the field like he used to.

With the Eagles entering a bye week, McNabb has time to rest his broken rib. Kolb has time to continue working on his shooting moves in case he is called up again to lead the Eagles. Vick has time to clear his head and prepare for what will surely be his chance to show other teams in the league that he can still electrify a crowd in whatever formation Reid and the coaching staff put him in.

Given the cast that coach Andy Reid has assembled, this year looks to be a breakout year for him and McNabb. Both came to the Eagles in 1999 and have been through many ups and downs. Together they know they must do whatever it takes to silence the hostile Eagle fans who just want to win the Super Bowl, even if they have to throw snowballs at Santa again. We know they have a solid defense and the quarterbacks have a game plan for any defensive unit. They also have running back talent in Brian Westbrook, rookie LeSean McCoy and a short back in Leonard Weaver. Finally, they have some real depth at wide receiver led by DeSean Jackson, rookie Jeremy Maclin and veterans Kevin Curtis and Jason Avant.

There are still questions in Philly about Reid and McNabb. A lot of people want a change even though Reid is considered one of the best coaches in the NFL. McNabb is also the Eagles’ all-time leader in wins, pass attempts, touchdowns and passing yards. He also holds NFL records for most consecutive 24 completions, is the quarterback least intercepted per pass attempt of all time, has the third-best touchdown-to-interception ratio of all time, and currently has the third-highest winning percentage among active quarterbacks. But in Philly they always hate you until you leave or retire or win the Super Bowl.