Donovan McNabb

Nobody at Syracuse asked Jim Brown about unretiring No. 44?


Poor Syracuse. The Orange tried to do something positive within the football program and it just continues to receive bad press. While not quite as hot and bothered by the decision to unretire the uniform No. 44 as former Orange quarterback Donovan McNabb, the legendary Jim Brown did not seem to be too enthusiastic about the decision either.

In an interview on “The Rich Eisen Show” on FOX Sports Radio Thursday, Brown was asked about Syracuse’s plans to unretire the number he once wore while playing his college ball. The response he had was lukewarm at best.

“I didn’t exactly give my blessings,” Brown said, as transcribed by “I just didn’t complain.” Brown went on to say he was not approached by Syracuse before the decision was made by the university, and made it seem as though he simply is not going to stand in the way of the plans moving forward.

“When I did get a call from an executive up there, I didn’t make a fuss about it and I told them whatever they wanted to do was OK with me.”

Brown had more to say on the subject. His comments are quite interesting as well, as someone who previously worn the No. 44 at Syracuse.

“To un-retire something, there has to be a commercial aspect to it,” Brown said. “So if it’s going to help the team commercial or help a scholarship fund or something like that, then that’s good. But for me, to endorse something that takes away something from you, that doesn’t make sense. Unless I did something to deserve it. It seems like a punishment to me. I don’t take it that way, but it couldn’t be a positive thing unless someone explained it so all of us could see the positive aspect of it.”

Syracuse has yet to really lay out the plan for the No. 44 moving forward, other than to clarify it will be a special honor and not necessarily a yearly thing. But who knows. All I know is if I were at Syracuse and part of the decision-making process for this, I probably would have picked up the phone and asked what Brown thought about it.

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Donovan McNabb not a fan of Syracuse unretiring No. 44


Earlier today we learned Syracuse will be bringing the uniform No. 44 out of retirement this season. The uniform number will be awarded to a player on the Syracuse football team by a special committee, and odds are former Syracuse quarterback Donovan McNabb is not going to be included in that committee.

McNabb, the former franchise quarterback of the Philadelphia Eagles and now an analyst for “FOX Sports Live,” took to his Twitter account to rip off a series of comments and reaction to his alma mater bringing the uniform out of retirement.

“It bothers me to see the decision being made by my alma mater to u retire the legendary 44,” McNabb said to his Twitter followers. “The great RBs who wore the number put SU on the map. What message are we sending across college football and to the football world that it’s ok to unretire such history that was so strong that a movie was made about one of our great RBs in Ernie Davis. No one should be rewarded in wearing that number. Do [you] see other schools taking numbers down from the [rafters] for any reason at all. I think it is totally disrespectful to those who have worn it and for those who wore the mighty Blue and Orange. It was retired in [2005] for a reason. Which it should have been done along time before then.”

OK then. Glad we got that on the record.

What Syracuse is doing is finding another way to honor the legacy of the uniform No. 44. Retiring a number is only one way to do so. Giving the uniform special meaning and recognition is in the same category of awarding a “C” to a captain. By bringing the uniform out of retirement, Syracuse is allowing the legacy to live on within the program, perhaps one day adding another name to the list of great college football players to wear the No. 44.

Which side of this topic do you fall on? Do you agree with McNabb, or do you think he is out of line?

SEC leads all conferences with Madden NFL video game covers


There may no longer be an NCAA Football video game produced by EA Sports, but that does not mean the SEC cannot find one more thing to brag about. With wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. of the New York Giants, and previously of LSU, being named the cover athlete for Madden NFL 16, the annual NFL video game published by EA Sports, the SEC now has four all-time cover athletes on the most popular sports video game in the country. No other active conference has more than two Madden cover athletes.

LSU’s Beckham Jr. is the first Tigers player to appear on the cover of Madden. He joins Georgia’s Garrison Hearst (Madden NFL 99, the first cover athlete in the franchise’s history), Alabama’s Shaun Alexander (Madden NFL 07) and Peyton Hillis of Arkansas (Madden NFL 12). The SEC actually ties the old Big East for most all-time cover athletes. The Big East is the only conference to have a former Big East player appear on the cover in three successive seasons with Virginia Tech’s Michael Vick (Madden NFL 2004), Miami’s Ray Lewis (Madden NFL 2005) and Syracuse’s Donovan McNabb (Madden NFL 06). The Big East’s last representative on the cover was former Pittsburgh wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (Madden NFL 10).

The ACC, Big 12, Big Ten and Pac-12 all have had two cover athletes each. Joining the Big East in the defunct conference category of Madden cover athletes are the Big 8 and WAC, each with one cover athlete. Barry Sanders (Madden NFL 25; he technically appeared on the cover of Madden NFL 2000 too, but that was as a background image behind John Madden) of Oklahoma State played in the Big 8 and Marshall Faulk (Madden NFL 2003) played at San Diego State when the Aztecs were in the WAC.

One more note for those with an interest. Two players from independent programs have been featured on the cover of the Madden NFL series, and neither hailed from Notre Dame. UCF’s Daunte Culpepper (Madden NFL 2002) and Southern Mississippi’s Brett Favre (Madden NFL 09) have each graced the cover. At the time these quarterbacks were throwing passes on Saturday afternoons though, both programs were independent programs.

What about Heisman Trophy winners on the cover? There have been three of them on the cover of Madden. In addition to Sanders, Ohio State’s Eddie George (Madden NFL 2001) and Vince Young of Texas (Madden NFL 08) have appeared on the cover of the game.

Madden NFL 99 – Garrison Hearst, Georgia

Madden NFL 2000 – John Madden (Barry Sanders was in the background image, but not specifically featured)

Madden NFL 2001 – Eddie George, Ohio State

Madden NFL 2002 – Daunte Culpepper, UCF

Madden NFL 2003 – Marshall Faulk, San Diego State, WAC

Madden NFL 2004 – Michael Vick, Virginia Tech

Madden NFL 2005 – Ray Lewis, Miami

Madden NFL 06 – Donovan McNabb, Syracuse

Madden NFL 07 – Shaun Alexander, Alabama

Madden NFL 08 – Vince Young, Texas

Madden NFL 09 – Brett Favre, Southern Miss

Madden NFL 10 – Troy Polamalu, USC; Larry Fitzgerald, Pittsburgh

Madden NFL 11 – Drew Brees, Purdue

Madden NFL 12 – Peyton Hillis, Arkansas

Madden NFL 13 – Calvin Johnson, Georgia Tech

Madden NFL 25 – Barry Sanders, Oklahoma State; Adrian Peterson, Oklahoma

Madden NFL 15 – Richard Sherman, Stanford

Madden NFL 16 – Odell Beckham Jr., LSU

In college football recruiting, mother knows best… right?


When it comes to college football recruiting stories it often seems as though moms have a major say in the decision. Mother knows best, right?

In a recent addition to a series of recruiting flashback stories on, Donovan McNabb, who wound up at Syracuse before going on to a lengthy NFL career, shared a story about the time he was asked to help convince Mike Vick to follow in his footsteps at Syracuse. Syracuse had tabbed Vick as their number one recruit and McNabb had done his part in convincing Vick to choose Syracuse for his college football career. McNabb can be charming and convincing, but that was not enough to convince one person; Vick’s mother. Vick’s mom preferred her son to stay close to home in Virginia, and as you no doubt know by now she got her say. Vick attended Virginia Tech for two years and helped bring the Hokies to competing among the best in the country on the football field.

Of course, not every mother has her say when it comes time to submitting that letter of intent.

In 2012, Alabama safety Landon Collins announced his college decision on national television during the Under Armour All-American Game. With April Justin, his mother by his side, Collins announced he would attend Alabama. This did not sit well with his mother, who had her eyes set n Alabama’s division rival.

“I feel that LSU is the better place for him to be,” she said once noticed she lacked any enthusiasm for the decision. “LSU Tigers, No. 1. Go Tigers!”

Fast forward to this year’s Under Armour Game and a similar scene played out. In fact, it even included the same mom. This time another son, Gerald Willis III, announced his decision to go to Florida. Once again, this did not sit well.

“It is what it is, Florida Gators, that’s where we’ll be,” she said. “LSU’s still No. 1.”

One of the more bizarre recruiting stories may have taken place during last year’s national signing day. SEC Freshman of the year and Arkansas running back Alex Collins had his mom swipe his national letter of intent and run off with it, delaying his opportunity to have his joyous moment. His mother reportedly wanted Collins to stay closer to home instead of go to Arkansas and hired a lawyer to fight her case. Fortunately for the Razorbacks, Collins managed to be able to get the situation resolve and he followed through with his desire to be a Razorback. Not to be outdone, there is the case of Matthew Thomas at Florida State, who ended up there in part because his mother would not sign a letter of intent for her son to attend USC.

National Signing Day is this Wednesday. Will any mothers cause a scene or sway the decision in their favor this year?