BEYOND THE GLORY, a cornerstone of Fox Sport Net’s original programming, returns to anchor FSN’s Sunday night lineup. This season promises to be the series’ best ever, detailing not only the athletes’ lives and their struggles to stardom, but also providing a unique insiders look at the sports world’s biggest names. Season Four kicks off with the story of Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb’s rise from his tough Chicago neighborhood where his family had to avoid shootouts in their building to winning over the never satisfied Philadelphia fans. The one-hour documentary airs on Sun., March 14 at 9:00 PM on Fox Sports Net.
Donovan McNabb seems to hit obstacles at every turn. A great quarterback at high school football factory Mt. Carmel in Chicago, McNabb was told by a major college coach that he could not handle the quarterback position at a top college program. McNabb goes to Syracuse University and sets the NCAA record for passing efficiency as a freshman and leads the team to the Gator Bowl, just the first step in a prolific college career that ended with him being named Big East Offensive Player of the Decade. But in his first moment as a pro he is booed vociferously by Eagles fans who wanted their team to take running back Ricky Williams.
McNabb brings the Eagles to the playoffs in only his second season and is embraced by the boo birds from the upper deck of the Vet. Then he gets injured, returns in the NFC playoffs and loses at home to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFC Championship game. The following season, McNabb crashes and burns in the first few games of the season. He starts out throwing balls into the turf, missing receivers and has Eagles fans calling for his benching. McNabb’s response? He worked harder than ever and took the Eagles back to the playoffs.
The Donovan McNabb story is one of overcoming hardship and silencing doubters. After his family moved to Dalton, Illinois, a predominantly white area outside Chicago, their house was broken into and the outside was defaced with graffiti in a racist attack; cars parked outside the McNabbs’ house were vandalized. But Donovan learned he could break the tension in the neighborhood with his trademark humor — humor he later used to win over the locker rooms in Syracuse and Philadelphia with spot-on impersonations of his coaches.
McNabb used that quick wit again and again, cracking jokes with Eagles reporters after he was drafted and again in the wake of commentator Rush Limbaugh calling McNabb overrated, claiming the quarterback was getting extra media attention because he’s black and not because he’s worthy.
McNabb handled the situation with grace and dignity, refusing to get into a racial debate with the right-wing pundit and winning the argument in the end by leading the Eagles to their third straight NFC Championship game. But for Donovan McNabb, that’s still one game short.
Those interviewed in addition to Donovan McNabb include: mother Wilma McNabb, father Sam McNabb, brother Sean McNabb, wife Roxi McNabb, high school coach Frank Lenti, Syracuse football coach Paul Pasqualoni, Syracuse basketball coach Jim Boeheim, college teammate and NFL star Kevin Johnson, Philadelphia Eagles coach Andy Reid and Eagles teammates Chad Lewis, Troy Vincent, Duce Staley and Syracuse A.D. Jake Crouthamel.
Quotes from the documentary:
Donovan McNabb: “People looked upon black quarterbacks as not smart enough, not tall enough, not fit the image of the position. It’s like a slap in the face.”
On a conversation he had with Michael Vick: “I can remember talking and saying it’s been a while since we’ve had an African American quarterback in the Super Bowl. One of us has to get there.”
“People will say that Philadelphia cannot win the Super Bowl with an African American quarterback. But I can see that happening. We will win the Super Bowl.”
On the Philadelphia fans booing him at the draft: “They’re pointing and booing. It pissed me off to the point that my motivation was so high, I couldn’t wait to get started.”
Paul Pasqualoni: “He was a sponge. Anything you could show him to help him he would soak up and be thirsty for more.”
Chad Lewis: “Playing with a broken leg, throwing four touchdowns in an NFL game, that’s the stuff that legends are made of.”
Wilma McNabb: “Why wouldn’t a school want a black quarterback? Maybe in their minds, we weren’t qualified to be there.”
Future episodes of BEYOND THE GLORY include: Detroit Red Wings’ Chris Chelios (March 21); The Buss Family, a look at Los Angeles Lakers owner Jerry Buss and his family (March 28); NFL superstar Tony Dorsett (April 4); Minnesota Timberwolves’ Kevin Garnett (April 11); Indiana Pacers’ Reggie Miller (April 18); Orlando Magic star Grant Hill (April 25); Boxing legend George Foreman (May 2).
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