When Dolphins offensive lineman Richie Incognito was accused of being complicit in leading a systematic bullying of his "soft" teammate Jonathan Martin, it was easy to believe that story. After all, Martin was a Stanford grad with a clean record and Incognito was a veteran troublemaker with a rep as a dirty player, who seemed like something ripped out of a Sons of Anarchy casting call.
Earlier this week former NFL offensive lineman Shawn Andrews told 97.5 The Fanatic that Donovan McNabb bullied him during his time with the Eagles, made his life a living hell by spreading rumors and rolled his eyes when he told the team that he was being treated for depression. It's an odd accusation to make considering half of Andrews' duties as an NFL guard were to protect McNabb in the pocket. Secondly, for his all of his on-field faults, McNabb was perceived as one of the “good guys” to have around in NFL locker rooms.
"That is ridiculous," McNabb said. "I don't know what comments you expect to get from me, but that is news to me and completely false. For me to bully anybody, that sounds unbelievable. . . .
"I don't really understand why this would come about, one, and two, how this would even be an accusation. If there's anything I can say, I was more than open to Shawn. I always tried to be open to all the guys. I'd invite them over to my house. I'd have holiday dinners or team functions, especially for the offense, every year. I'd buy all the guys gifts, if I made the Pro Bowl or not, for an appreciation. Shawn was one of the most talented offensive linemen we had. I was always happy to have him."
Andrews has stood by his comments even as former Eagles teammates such as Jeff Garcia have come out of the woodwork to passionately defend McNabb.
"Donovan was a very playful, joking individual," Garcia said. "He always seemed to be goofing around in the locker room. He even took it too far at times, I think, in goofing around on the field during actual games. But that's how Donovan was, and I never saw anything negative or evil come out of him."
Two other Eagles from that era, running backs Brian Westbrook and Reno Mahe, said Wednesday that they never heard McNabb discuss Andrews' sexuality and don't believe he mistreated Andrews or gossiped about him.
"I don't ever remember seeing that," Mahe said. Andrews does. He described a culture of cliques throughout the Eagles' locker room, men who would praise one another publicly, then disparage one another once the cameras and microphones were gone.
"I was treated like s -, pardon my language," Andrews said. "These guys say, 'These are my teammates. We're going to war.' How do you demean somebody like that who's got your back? . . . I fought my [butt] off for '5', and I just felt there was a negative energy from the first time I met that dude."
From Andrews’ description of the locker room, what was happening in Philadelphia was quite different than Martin’s bullying in Miami. It’s human nature for people to struggle getting along with one another and even NFL players gossip when you pack 52 + players together from June through January. There's no telling what McNabb may have said or done to make Andrews believe he was being singled out, but if he was being treated for depression at the time, then he'd be more hypersensitive to the locker room dynamic or teammates busting his chops. There don't appear to be any firsthand accounts of McNabb spreading malicious rumors about Andrews and most of it is hearsay, so it's probably best to chalk this one up to being a misunderstanding for now.