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NFC East: Debate On McNabb's Legacy Pertains Well To Romo


I see lots of talk in the NFL community about Donovan McNabb's retirement, and it makes me curious about Tony Romo.

McNabb officially retired as an Eagle on Tuesday.

After a decade under center in Philadelphia, McNabb has to go down as the franchise's greatest quarterback, and the organization announced it will retire his No. 5 during a Thursday night game against former coach Andy Reid and the Kansas City Chiefs.

The news raises plenty of debate about McNabb's place in Eagles' lore, the merit of retiring his number and his case for the Hall of Fame. 

The arguments for are well-known: McNabb sits 17th on the list of all-time leaders. His 234 career touchdowns are 22nd all-time in NFL history. He made perennial contenders of an afterthought Eagles team – McNabb posted a 9-7 playoff record as the team's quarterback, he helped the team to five NFC Championship Games. The Eagles went just 1-4 in those contests, advancing to Super Bowl XXXIX, which they ultimately lost, 24-21, to New England.

McNabb's 37,000 passing yards and 3,000-plus rushing yards are Hall of Fame-worthy. His career quarterback rating of just 85.6 and his career completion percentage of 59 percent – not so much. He made six Pro Bowls but was never named All-Pro, and he obviously never won a Super Bowl.

Now, it's a bit hard to compare the Cowboys and the Eagles in the same context, but can't you just see a similar type of debate arising about Romo in six or seven years?

The stats are undoubtedly going to be better. Romo sits at 25,737 yards and 177 touchdowns, and he's got at least six seasons to improve upon that. If he maintains his averages yards and touchdowns from his first six years as a starter for the next six seasons, he'd sit roughly at 48,609 yards and 333 touchdowns when his extension expires – top 10 all-time in both categories. 

The completion percentage is sure to be better, as well, as Romo as only completed fewer than 63 percent of his passes during one season as the starter. 

All of this brings us around to the truly meaningful stat, especially for a quarterback – especially for a quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys.

Romo's career playoff record is a measly 1-3, and he has yet to make an NFC Championship game, let alone five. And the obvious lack of an NFC Championship Game appearance means the lack of a Super Bowl appearance, which means no Super Bowl ring.

That's a much more glaring absence for a Cowboys quarterback as opposed to an Eagles quarterback. Philadelphia has 15 playoff wins, two Super Bowl appearances and no championships since their 1960 title season.

Dallas boasts five championships, eight Super Bowl appearances and a league-best 33 playoff wins in that same timespan. If Romo were to go into the Cowboys' Ring of Honor with no championship to his name, he'd be just the third Dallas player to do so.

Ideally, by the time Romo finishes his career, he'll have the hardware to settle the debate for him.

But the McNabb debate certainly raises an interesting issue about scores of accomplished, but not-quite-there players this game produces.

Not everyone gets to win the big one, so how do we view the guys who fall short – regardless of the rest of their achievements?

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