THREE SEASONS after this story was written, McNabb led Philly to its first Super Bowl since 1981.
Though Philadelphia narrowly lost to New England 24-21, the game capped a record-setting season for McNabb, who completed a franchise-high 64.0% of his passes for 3,875 yards and a 104.7 QB rating. His lofty numbers were due, in part, to the March 16, 2004, acquisition of volatile wide receiver Terrell Owens. McNabb and T.O. played just 21 games together over two seasons but connected on 132 passes for 2,081 yards and 20 TDs.
By the beginning of the 2006 season, Owens had stormed off to Dallas and McNabb was back in the pocket after missing the last seven games of '05 with a sports hernia. With the Eagles struggling at 5-5, McNabb went down again with a torn right ACL against Tennessee last Nov. 19. He was forced to watch as backup Jeff Garcia took the Eagles on an impressive, if unlikely, postseason run.
Since 2002 McNabb has missed 22 games due to injury. Philly didn't re-sign Garcia, meaning fans' hopes ride on McNabb's surgically repaired knee. If he fails to meet expectations, the boo-birds who heckled him on draft day will likely visit again.
Off the field the QB has continued his charity work and spent time in front of the TV camera while recovering from surgery. It is familiar territory for McNabb, who has been starring, with his mom, Wilma, in the national advertising campaign for Campbell's Chunky Soup since '02. The ads put Mama McNabb in the spotlight, and she has used her celebrity to share the insights she and Sam have learned over the last three decades—from proper nutrition to basic rules, from good sportsmanship to time management.
And now that Donovan is a father himself—he married Roxi in 2004 and welcomed daughter Alexis later that year—the parenting advice will surely come in handy.