Since 1999, when the Doug Pederson experiment ended, the fate of the Eagles franchise has since rested with Donovan Mcnabb. He usually isn‘t the best player. Dawkins was the heart and soul of the team for years and Westbrook is more talented than Mcnabb, it’s also no surprise that Donovan’s best season came when he was throwing the ball to a grandma’s boy named Terrell. But for the past 9 years, we’ve won and lost games based on the strength of our quarterback’s performance. For three quarters tonight, I was elated, but my joy was bigger than the game. I was so happy, because it forced me to remember the time Donovan Mcnabb asked me to suck his dick.
After begging my brother for years to put in a good word for me, I was hired as a ball boy for the Philadelphia Eagles a few months after the Super bowl loss. Terrell’s media shit storm was well under way, but his relationship with Donovan wasn’t permanently strained yet. The team was an LJ Smith drop away from their first championship in 24 years, and the entirety of the team was returning. In stark opposition to Philadelphia’s normal sports situations, things looked good.
Another scorching morning practice came and went at Lehigh University where the Eagles hold their training camp every year. I was in the locker room, surrounded by comically large men, most of whom were naked, and it was my job to go around throwing all their sweaty underwear and practice clothes into the hampers. The hampers were at the end of every row, and you couldn’t get to the showers without passing by at least one, if not multiple hampers. However, when you can make a career out of your physical prowess, you’re afforded the privilege of not having to worry about small things like taking care of your own gross shit. Your meals are cooked for you, your laundry is done for you, your schedules are printed up everyday so that you can’t possibly fuck up, even though many still manage too. You are treated like a humongous, physically gifted, god of a four years old. This seems counter-intuitive at first; athletes are often seen as men amongst boys. But no matter how good they are at their game, they are still only playing a game. There are billions of dollars riding on a game that most people grow out of by the time they graduate from high school, and it’s left in the hands of people who can’t be trusted to dump their jock straps in the hamper before showering after practice. This is the job I begged and begged for.
I was in the Quarterbacks row, just about finished up for the morning, ready to take my break until the laundry was finished and we were to fold and redistribute it back into the lockers. Donovan’s locker was the last in the row, and being new, I was still pretty star struck. I found myself doing dorky little things like smiling for no reason at scrubs who had no shot at making the team, taking extra time to fold the jerseys, and sneaking off to places I probably shouldn’t have been to look at shit I probably shouldn’t have been looking at. That day I found myself examining Mcnabb’s sandals. They were regular sandals, but they had “#5” written on each side. Every article of clothing was labeled with the players number with a sharpie. After spending an exorbitant amount of time looking at a pair of fucking sandals, I went back about my business of picking up the laundry. Just as I was bent all the way over to grab everything, I felt someone approaching behind me.
“Hey!”, a voice came from behind me, equal parts bass and anger. I weighed my options, and did the mature thing. I froze.
“Hey, hey ball boy.”, I dropped the clothes, and turned my head around. I found myself, at the time a small, scrawny, alarmingly white teenager making $6.50 an hour standing in opposition with a massive, black superstar making over $10 million a year. He also happened to be completely naked. And I was at crotch level.
I had no idea what to do. I’d been forced into conversations with naked men before, but never an angry, naked man, and certainly never an angry naked man who could have me fired on the spot if he so chose, and most definitely never an angry naked powerful man who‘s dick was right in my face. I made two quick decisions. First and foremost, I stood up. Soon after that, I poured all my energy into making the deepest eye contact I had ever made in my life previous to that. My thinking was that at the very least, I couldn’t be accused of checking out his dick. I now realize that this was probably gayer than off-handedly glancing at his junk. By trying not to act gay, I ended up giving some hardcore eye-anal to a naked, wet, man.
“Um, yes?”, I said, ever so coyly.
He received and returned my accidental eye-anal, giving me some figurative eye-ass to mouth. His face remained stern, and he slowly reached down and grabbed his penis.
“Hey ball boy, you want some sausage?”.
Raise your hand if you’ve ever been propositioned by an NFL superstar without foreplay, whether linguistically or literally. I now belong to a group populated by groupies, gold diggers, chicken heads, and whatever upstanding gentlemen Jeff Garcia has come across in his day.
I muttered something unintelligible, grabbed the laundry as quickly as I could, and scurried back outside. I don’t fluster easily, but I was speechless. I had absolutely no comeback. I just grabbed my shit and left.
I guarantee that Donovan doesn’t remember this at all. He was just fucking around with someone that he had the power to fuck around with. He was having fun. And that’s always been the telltale sign of his on field play. Until Terrell got kicked off the team and Donovan got hurt, Mcnabb spent the first six and a half years of his career with a huge smile on his face. Whether he had just thrown a sixty yard touchdown, or a pick for six, he would come off the field laughing. It was great when he played well, and fucking obnoxious when he was under throwing wide open receivers on third down. And then Terrell and Donovan had their spat, and the spinners on his good times escalade stopped spinning, and eventually the wheels fell off. From 2005 through 2007, the Eagles played .500 ball, and the brutally honest smile of an athlete playing a game turned into the defense mechanism of a forced, half hearted facial tick from a disheartened veteran at his job. It’s the smile that Toby makes on the Office every time Michael berates him. He smiled because if he didn’t, he might have cried.
But something felt different this year. We didn’t improve our personnel all that much, but expectations were high, even outside of Philadelphia. The Rams game came and went, and we all got drunk and yelled and cursed a lot as Philadelphians are wont to do, but there was still a sense of uncertainty. The win was nice, but the Rams kind of suck, and we knew that. The Cowboys would be our real test. Monday Night Football in front of the entire world that watches football on Monday nights, against our biggest rivals, the Dallas Cowboys, the most talented team in the league, who also happen to possess Donovan’s scorned lover. They say that you can’t win the Super bowl early in the season, but you can lose it. Fuck that. This game transcended that. This game was big, the biggest the eagles have played since TO pretended to be Willis Reed in the Super bowl. And both teams came out of the gate fired up, throwing bombs. For three quarters, you could see the kid in Donovan again. He was laughing and running and throwing underhand tosses on botched plays. John Madden was in his bus at halftime ready to drive to Dallas to act as my dick-sucking proxy, calling Donovan Brett the whole time. McNabb was playing out of his mind, even without his top two weapons at wide receiver, though Reggie Brown is a weapon the way that toenail clippers count as a weapon at the airport. It counts, but no one is really sure why.
And then Philadelphia went back to doing what we do time and time again. Crunch time set in and we laid down and died. The majority of this came from Donovan. He missed an open Westbrook for a first down, he fumbled the handoff, giving Dallas the lead, and he chose not to take the open running game on second and long which would have given them third and short at the worst, and an opportunity to keep the game going. The only thing missing was Donovan hunched over, puking on the field again. The smile faded, and the Toby face was back. This season, and ultimately McNabb and Reid’s legacies will come down to whether Donovan is playing the game, or doing his job. It’s still early, we haven’t lost the Super bowl yet, and the pieces are in place for a successful run. But the pieces are in place for disappointment as well. Once again, it all falls squarely on number five’s shoulders, and we as Philadelphia fans have to accept this.
Bill Simmons used to joke that being a Red Sox fan was like being the 120 pound man in a maximum security prison. Being a Philadelphia fan is nothing like this. The 120 pound man has no hope. He is perpetually fucked. Our teams are usually competitive, we are always on the cusp, every year is our year. But year in and year out, we fall short. Being a Philadelphia fan is like getting a blowjob at a party from a girl who is way out of your league, only to have her pass out from the alcohol before finishing you off, leaving you to wonder the ethics involved in finishing the job yourself, all the while amazed at what your life has devolved to. Odds are, this will be just another year in which we use as preparation for the next, but even a blind squirrel busts a nut every once in a while.