Football legend Donovan McNabb wants to improve the lives of college and high school quarterbacks. Through the nonprofit QB Legacy, the Queen Creek resident prepares the athletes for life after football, the ups and downs of the game and how to handle adversity and success.
“We want to build leaders and CEOs,” says McNabb, who serves as its president.
“We want our quarterbacks to be in front of a board room and have control. That’s team meeting rooms and in the board room. But it is not always about football. We want them to be well prepared for what life throws at you.”
The QB Legacy is hosting its first mentoring event February 5 and February 6 in Tampa.
To qualify for membership in QB Legacy, one must have played quarterback for a college program in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I, II, or III, the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) or the National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA).
McNabb, he says, was one of the lucky ones. He played 13 years in the NFL and was the first NFL quarterback to throw for more than 30 touchdowns and fewer than 10 interceptions in a season.
His parents prepared him for football and life afterward. His father, Sam, a retired electrical engineer, and his mother, Wilma, a registered nurse, have served as president of the Professional Football Players Fathers Association and Professional Football Players Mothers Association, respectively.
“My goal after football was to go right into TV,” says McNabb, who quarterbacked for Philadelphia, Minnesota and Washington. “I was well prepared to go from in front of the camera to behind the camera. That was second nature to me.
“When you’re a 19-, 20- or 21-year-old kid, you have to handle the ins and outs of professionalism,” he says. “Luckily, I had people in my corner who I could relate to and talk to.”
For McNabb, that was Sam.
“My dad obviously worked hard,” McNabb says. “He never played professionally, he never played Division 1 sports. He always found an answer for me. I could lean on him for advice or words of wisdom.”
Quarterbacks looking for a piece of advice should take McNabb’s words to heart: never allow anyone from the outside to dictate a future path.
“Be goal oriented and be determined,” McNabb says. “Understand the tough times are going to happen. The only thing that really matters is your happiness. That was something, for me, that I continue to cherish to this day. I understand there are, one, tough times; two, no one in the world is perfect; three, continue to work hard and grind hard to get the results you want; and four, make sure you’re happy.”
His mom, Wilma, however, is the joker in the family, he says.
“She’s one of those sarcastic people who says what’s on her mind,” McNabb says. “You learn to have tough skin with my mom. Her kids are very important to her, though. She taught all of her kids to overcome adversity and take constructive criticism.”
McNabb shares his knowledge with the high school athletes he coaches, including his children—daughter Alexis, twins Sariah and Donovan Jr., and son Devin James.
“It’s important for all of us, not just former athletes, to learn how to handle trials and tribulations,” he says. “A word here and there for any youth can really change their life.
“We all have tough times in life. Not everybody shows it. You never know how some people may be feeling. If you can provide a word or two here or there, and a smile or two, that could change their lives.”
Living in the Valley
McNabb moved to the Valley about 20 years ago. He began spending time here in 1999 after he was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles.
“I’ve been coming here ever since,” he says. “If it was a ‘bye’ week or during the off season, I’d visit the Valley. Four years in, I decided to purchase a home here. It was my getaway.”
He works out in Discovery Park or at Payne Junior High School. McNabb also spends time coaching softball and girls basketball, the sports played by his daughters. His sons participate in a plethora of activities, including flag football, soccer, cross country, basketball and football.
He stressed he wants his children to build an identity for themselves, through a strong work ethic, passion, determination and goal setting.
Even though he’s on a strict diet, McNabb frequents restaurants around the Valley. He loves Italian, but, with his diet, he can’t have very much.
“As far as restaurants are concerned, in the Valley I love Mastro’s, Dominick’s, Steak 44 and my whole family loves sushi,” he adds. “It’s a mix of everything.”
McNabb can’t believe it’s been nine seasons since he retired.
“When I look back on the relationships I built, some of the guys are still playing, like the Tom Bradys or the Drew Breeses and some of the other guys I competed against,” he says.
“It’s an honor and one in which your kids see.”
As for this year’s Super Bowl, he loves the way Buffalo is playing and what (quarterback) Josh Allen has done to develop and improve through the last 18 months.
“I’ll have to take Kansas City, though, and I’ll go with Tampa Bay. Tom, he’s the fountain of youth. Whatever it is he’s eating and drinking, he needs to pass it on. He’s a winner and he’s proven it. He continues to get better.”
McNabb hopes to start a Phoenix QB Legacy franchise and train athletes in other positions. He also wants to be a part of a WNBA franchise. His niece, Kia Nurse, is a professional basketball player for the New York Liberty.
Right now, however, he’s providing “excitement” for first responders by delivering pizzas to them and giving gift cards to families suffering through the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I want to look back on it and realize I’ve done something to try to help put someone on a positive path,” he says.
Donovan McNabb, donovanmcnabb.com
QB Legacy, theqblegacy.com