Is Donovan McNabb worthy of a Hall of Fame selection? Well, if the decision were up to him, he'd a first ballot induction.
Then again, if Curtis Painter had his way, he'd probably be a first ballot Hall of Famer also.
The reality is this, like all other accolades and awards, is beyond the ultimate control of the player. And when it comes to the Hall of Fame voters, it's going to come down to combination of statistical achievements and important victories.
And by important victories, I of course mean Super Bowl victories. McNabb only has 1 Super Bowl appearance and lost to the Patriots. Unfortunately for him, that is one glaring mark on his legacy. But it's not the only thing to consider. Remember, Dan Marino never won a Super Bowl either. But Dan Marino was a prolific passer, the penultimate quarterback of his particular era. Up against the other premier passers of his time (Montana, Young, Elway, Kelly, etc) he put up the most consistently high numbers.
So that's how the voters will have to weigh McNabb's achievements: Against those of his contemporaries. That's another bad thing for McNabb's candidacy. His contemporaries include likely future Hall of Famers Brett Favre, Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger, and Peyton Manning. And each of these guys have been to multiple Super Bowls and won at least one of them.
If I were a voter, here are the things I would look at when considering a quarterback's stats for Hall of Fame consideration (in no particular order of importance):
- - Total wins
- - Total passing yards
- - Total TDs
- - Total INTs
- - Career completions
- - Career completion %
- - Career Quarterback rating
- - Seasons with 25+ passing touchdowns
- - Number of Playoff appearances
- - Number of Conference Championship appearances/wins
- - Super Bowl appearances/wins
- - Number of Pro Bowls voted to
- - Number of NFL Regular/Post Season awards
- - Number of career stats in Top 10 in NFL History
Obviously, I am not a Hall of Fame voter. But let's go ahead and weigh McNabb's achievements against this list I've compiled:
Total wins: 98 (Tied for 12th all time)
Total passing yards: 37,276 (17th all time)
Total passing TDs: 234 (21st all time)
Total INTs: 117 (ranking not available)
Career completions: 3,170 (14th all time)
Career completion percentage: 59.0% (52nd all time)
Career quarterback rating: 85.6 (23rd all time)
Seasons with 25+ passing TDs: 2
Number of Playoff appearances: 9
Number of Conference Championship appearances/wins: 5/1
Number of Super Bowl appearances/wins: 1/0
Number of Pro Bowls voted to: 6
Number of NFL Regular/Post Season awards: 0
Number of career stats in top 10: 0
First off, let me be clear: I think McNabb is a great player. You can compare him to players that came before him and say how much better his numbers are than theirs are. And you'd probably be right (at least, about some of them). But, again, he's going to be considered against the quarterbacks of his era. And when you put these numbers up against Manning, Brady, Roethlisberger and Favre, things are not looking too good.
The biggest black mark I see (other than the Super Bowl) is that 59% completion percentage. I would think to be seriously considered for the Hall of Fame in this era that would have to be around 62-65%.
Another problem is that McNabb had only 2 seasons where he threw more than 25 TDs (25 in 2001, 31 in 2004).
He earned no MVPs, no NFL Offensive Player of the Year awards, and no Pro Bowl MVP awards.
All that aside, the other major issue is that none of his key stats rank higher than 12 all time, and for me, a Hall of Famer should have at least one stat that ranked at least 10th all time.
To me, the answer is clear. When you pit McNabb up against the other potential Hall of Famers in his era, it's really not even close. He may eventually make the Hall, but my guess would as a Senior Committee selection. Remember, it's the Hall of Fame, not the Hall of Really Good.
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