PHILADELPHIA (Nov. 21, 2005) -- Now Donovan McNabb is gone from the Philadelphia Eagles, too.
The Eagles' star quarterback will have surgery for a sports hernia and is expected to miss the rest of the season, another crushing blow for a team that had still hoped to return to the Super Bowl without suspended receiver Terrell Owens.
All-Pro cornerback Lito Sheppard also appears out for the season with a severely sprained ankle that will require surgery. The struggling Eagles suspended Owens for four games on Nov. 7, and told him not to return to the team.
The announcements came one day after the reigning NFC champions fell to 4-6 with their fourth straight loss.
McNabb didn't play in a 27-17 loss to the New York Giants on Nov. 20 after he re-injured his groin while trying to tackle Cowboys safety Roy Williams following an interception on Nov. 14. Williams returned it 46 yards for a touchdown with 2:43 left to lead Dallas to a 21-20 comeback victory over the Eagles.
"Once the groin became an issue, rest couldn't help it out," Eagles coach Andy Reid said. "There's too much discomfort where Donovan can't run."
Sheppard was injured in the third quarter against the Giants when he got tangled up with wide receiver Plaxico Burress on an incomplete pass. He was taken off the field in a cart and the Eagles originally announced the ankle was broken. An All-Pro last year, Sheppard had two interceptions and one sack this season.
"There's quite a separation between the ligaments," Reid said.
Neither McNabb nor Sheppard was placed on injured reserve yet, meaning each could return should the Eagles somehow make the playoffs.
McNabb had played through several injuries and hoped to delay surgery for the sports hernia until after the season. On Nov. 17, Dr. William Meyers recommended that McNabb have surgery now. He got the same advice from another doctor over the weekend.
Reid said McNabb will have surgery after Thanksgiving, and recovery time is eight to 10 weeks.
Mike McMahon started for McNabb against the Giants, and completed 18 of 39 passes for 298 yards, one touchdown and one interception. He also ran for a score and helped the offense move the ball against a tough Giants defense that hadn't allowed a TD for 13 quarters.
Sports hernias are most common among male athletes. A diagnosis sometimes can be tricky because, unlike more common hernias, there is not always a visible bulge in the leg or groin area. And with about 18 different variations, sports hernias can range from torn muscles to frayed muscles to a weakness in the abdominal wall.
Sometimes, the symptoms masquerade as a hip joint problem, a groin pull, a strained abdominal muscle or bursitis in the hip.
McNabb clearly wasn't the same quarterback who led the Eagles to the NFC championship game the last four years and went to five straight Pro Bowls. He threw a costly interception in the fourth quarter in each of his last three games, and has nine picks this season.
He threw just eight interceptions last season when he became the first player in NFL history to throw more than 30 touchdown passes (31) and fewer than 10 interceptions.
Overall, McNabb has passed for 2,507 yards, 16 TDs and has a passer rating of 85.0 this season. His troubles started off the field with the turmoil between him and Owens.
McNabb feuded with Owens throughout the summer after he was criticized by the All-Pro wideout, and the two didn't speak for a prolonged period. They clicked on the field, however, with Owens catching 47 passes for 763 yards and six TDs in seven games.
Owens was suspended following a series of incidents, including repeated criticism of McNabb and lashing out at the organization. The Eagles are 0-3 without Owens.
An arbitrator is expected to make a decision on Owens' grievance hearing against the Eagles by Nov. 22. Owens is hoping to be reinstated or released. The Eagles plan to deactivate him with pay once his suspension is up.
McNabb hurt his chest in the season opener and has been bothered by the sports hernia for months.
The mobile McMahon started just seven games in his four seasons in Detroit. He had a 43.8 completion percentage with 10 TD passes and 13 interceptions with the Lions.
Before sitting out Sunday's game, McNabb started 37 straight, excluding the meaningless regular-season finale last season. He missed a total of seven games due to injury during his first six seasons, including the last six regular-season games in 2002 after breaking his ankle.