Former Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb has never even been a finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, but he believes he should already have a bust in Canton.
“I am a Hall of Famer. My numbers speak for themselves,” McNabb told TMZ. “My numbers are better than Troy Aikman.”
McNabb does, in fact, have better numbers than Aikman: McNabb threw for more yards and more touchdowns, with fewer interceptions. But that’s a bit misleading.
For starters, McNabb played in a better passing era than Aikman: In Aikman’s rookie year, 1989, the league average passer rating was 75.6. By McNabb’s rookie year, 1999, the average passer rating had climbed only slightly, to 77.1, but by McNabb’s final year, 2011, the league average passer rating had risen all the way to 84.3. In other words, the significant increase in passing efficiency in the NFL had barely begun over the course of Aikman’s career, but it exploded during McNabb’s career. Although their careers overlapped by two years, for all intents and purposes, Aikman and McNabb played in different eras.
And, of course, the numbers that really matter to Aikman’s and McNabb’s Hall of Fame candidacies are three and zero. Aikman won three Super Bowl rings while McNabb won zero. Right or wrong, Super Bowl rings play an inordinate part in a quarterback’s Hall of Fame candidacy.
So McNabb, while a good player, simply does not have the kind of Hall of Fame candidacy that Aikman had. Which is why Aikman got in on the first ballot, and McNabb has never been close.