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Donovan McNabb And Michael Vick Meet In Battle Of Friends, Rivals

Devin Altschul |
October 2, 2010 | 2:20 p.m. PDT

Staff Writer

This Sunday, Donovan McNabb will be returning to Lincoln Financial Field to play in a city he could never really call home.

When the Philadelphia Eagles host the Washington Redskins, not only will McNabb be facing his former team, he'll also be going head to head with his friend Michael Vick. McNabb is not only a friend to Vick, he's the one who made Vick's second chance in the NFL possible.
The friendship between the two quarterbacks started when McNabb hosted and attempted to recruit Vick to Syracuse, where he played college football. Although Vick ended up choosing Virginia Tech, they remained friends.

Over a decade later, McNabb wanted to help a friend out. Vick had just spent 18 months in a federal prison for his role in a dog-fighting ring, leaving him very few options to resume his career. McNabb lobbied for the Eagles to sign Vick after approaching Andy Reid with the possibility. After weeks of behind-the-scenes negotiations, the Eagles signed Vick.

After signing with the Eagles, McNabb taught Vick the Eagles’ complex pass-first offense and became a mentor both on and off the field. He helped turn Vick into a more complete player and helped him handle the passion and pain of the unique Philadelphia fans. This pain became all too real for McNabb in 2009 when he missed two games due to injury and lost back-to-back games to end the season. Not only was the season ending, his time in Philadelphia was up as well.

Not long after the season ended McNabb was sent to the Redskins, and Kevin Kolb was to be the next heir to the throne. This plan went astray however, when Kolb suffered a concussion in the season opener against Green Bay.

Kolb was expected to be the starter when he recovered, but Reid changed his mind and decided to go with Vick in last week’s game. Although the Eagles signed Vick to a two-year contract last August, he was only supposed to be a backup. Instead, Vick is giving the Eagles the best chance to win and is part of the reason why the Eagles hold the first place spot in the NFC East.

Vick probably never imagined replacing McNabb but when the opportunity came to become the new starting quarterback he ran with it. Since Week 1, Vick has 750 yards passing, six touchdowns and no interceptions, and he has ran for 170 yards. For his efforts he earned NFC Offensive Player of the Month honors.

Although McNabb is a five-time Pro Bowler, he has only completed 62 of 102 passes for 833 yards and two touchdowns this season. The Redskins are 1-2 so far and could really use a win on Sunday. 

The contest this Sunday has been a great rivalry over the years and with McNabb’s return it just got a lot bigger. However, Vick is the new hero in the city that at first didn’t want anything to do with him, and he is ready to face his former mentor and friend for the first time since the 2004 NFC championship game in Philadelphia.

Vick’s re-emergence as a star quarterback is in part due to McNabb’s help. He will get the opportunity to say thank you in person on Sunday, in a game that has been circled on calendars since the day the schedule came out.

To reach writer Devin Altschul, click here.

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