- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
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If the wideout can learn anything from the quarterback about playing in the City of Brotherly Love, it's that you have to have a sense of humor along with thick skin. From 2000 through '02 McNabb led the Eagles to 11, 11 and 12 wins, respectively, yet in the course of a second consecutive home loss to open 2003, he was booed lustily at Lincoln Financial Field by fans who then started calling for backup A.J. Feeley. Instead of firing back at the crowd in postgame interviews, McNabb accepted responsibility, saying that he had to play better. Says Owens, "I know I have to get tough, I have to get grimy, to play here."
McNabb has almost as much at stake in this partnership as Owens does. The last two NFC title game losses have come in Philadelphia, and in those defeats (27--10 to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2002 and 14--3 to the Carolina Panthers in '03) the offense was awful. In 22 possessions McNabb mustered one touchdown drive (26 yards) and threw four interceptions. It's little wonder, then, that even the low-key quarterback at least gets a little pumped when talking about playing with Owens.
"Not to take anything away from the guys we've had here," McNabb says, "but I think an offense has to have a go-to guy. I've done just about everything a quarterback can do. My winning percentage is up there. But I've never gotten [included] in the great quarterback [discussion]. Why is that? Peyton Manning has Marvin Harrison. Kurt Warner had Isaac Bruce. I had one guy, but that was back in college, when I had Marvin at Syracuse. It's exciting, the anticipation of playing with T.O."
The two have already discussed ways to celebrate touchdowns, but those plans remain under wraps for now. "We have a list," McNabb says.
Ever looking to defend his past actions, Owens says he wasn't trying to be selfish when he notoriously celebrated TDs as a 49er. He insists he was simply reveling in the moment when he danced on the Dallas Cowboys' star at midfield of Texas Stadium in 2001; likewise when he pulled the marker out of his sock and signed the ball after scoring against the Seattle Seahawks. "Dude, do you know how hard we work?" he says. "We work our butts off to get to the end zone. I've never done an obscene gesture. People loved the Ickey Shuffle when Ickey Woods did it [in 1988]. Why wasn't that a me thing?"
After a pause, he says, "What I'm saying is, Why can't I be different?"
You can be T.O., if you help bring long-suffering Eagles fans a Super Bowl win.