The Donovan McNabb Kids Football Clinic on Saturday was well-attended, with over 300 kids, what looked like an equal number of media members, and more than a dozen of the quarterbacks past and present (and possibly future?) teammates helping out.
Of course, “teammates past” means current and former Philadelphia Eagles players, including Brian Westbrook, Jeremy Maclin, Bobby Taylor, Todd Herremans, Jamaal Jackson, Chad Lewis, and Quintin Mikell. And “teammates present” means NFC East rival Washington Redskins: Fred Davis, Clinton Portis, Devin Thomas, Bobby Wade, and Byron Westbrook.
Everybody was there (as they say on the Bachelor) for the right reasons, of course.
Here’s Redskins running back Clinton Portis: “You’re talking about a guy who just got traded away from here coming back and continuing something he had goin’ on, in the midst of us going to OTAs and mini-camp. Anytime you see a guy the caliber of Donovan McNabb giving back, to be a part of that is a no-brainer.”
Here’s former Eagles running back Brian Westbrook: “Donovan’s a great guy. He’s been a great friend, a great teammate for the last eight years of my life, so anything that he ever needs from me, I’m always gonna be there for him. But, more important, I think it’s about the kids. These kids, they…they wanna participate in football and in sports, so anytime that we can give back and give a little encouragement, I’m definitely there for it.”
Here’s Fred Davis: “It’s about the kids. Helping out a teammate, sure, but mainly about the kids.”
So everyone was there for the kids — both the kids on the field, who were looking to learn or improve their basic football skills, and, father down the line, the kids that are helped by the Donovan McNabb Fund (which receives the proceeds from the clinic). But still, it seemed like a potentially uncomfortable situation to me, so I asked McNabb if it felt at all like showing up to a party with a new girlfriend and running into an ex.
“Nah,” he said, laughing, “it’s more like being at a reunion with guys that you haven’t seen in the last couple of years. You grew up with a couple guys and all of a sudden you haven’t seen ‘em for three or four years; everybody’s kinda changed their lives, but you still remember ‘em as whatever they were before they left, but all of a sudden things are different.”
“I wouldn’t say so, no,” Devin Thomas said. “I mean, nobody has a jersey on so you wouldn’t even know the difference. We’re all just regular guys outside the office, so it’s all good.”
Byron Westbrook — who was, if it’s even possible, in a more awkward situation than McNabb, what with his brother being an ex-Eagle who Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan has been actively discussing as a possible Redskin — had a similar interpretation.
“During the offseason,” Westbrook said, “a lot these guys — even though we’re competitors — we’re friends. Jeremy Maclin, I’ve tackled him before. Devin’s probably competed with him ’cause they’re both wide receivers and young. In the offseason you can be friends, get to know these guys, talk to ‘em, hang out, and when the season comes, you can be all competitive on the field. In the offseason, though, stuff like this, we’re all friends just trying to make sure the kids have a good time at the camp.”
Fred Davis also noted that, “No, it ain’t weird,” and even took advantage of the opportunity to get some tips from Chad Lewis, an Eagles tight end who was at one point a favorite McNabb target. “He was telling me, ‘You gotta watch out for Donovan, he’s got them lasers, can catch you off-guard. He still can throw that ball.’”
Portis seemed completely unfazed by the situation. “So many guys go to school together or got ties with each other,” he said. “Westbrook’s always around. His brother plays with us. He’s from D.C., you know? I mean, bein’ around Eagles players is nothing major. But having the support, for Donovan having this support for this event from old teammates, from new teammates, and everybody being out here for the same reason — to bring enjoyment to these kids — that’s important.”
Portis pointed at the clinic-issued T-shirt he was wearing, shrugged, and said, simply, “It’s about Team McNabb.”
Tags: Clinton Portis, Devin Thomas, donovan mcnabb, Fred Davis
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