PHILADELPHIA -- Donovan McNabb wants to call for the bell and end this one-sided fight with Bernard Hopkins.
The agent for the Washington Redskins quarterback and former Philadelphia Eagles star released a statement Thursday that said Hopkins' racially tinged insults about McNabb, "are dangerous and irresponsible."
"It perpetuates a maliciously inaccurate stereotype that insinuates those African-Americans who have access to a wider variety of resources are somehow culturally different than their brethren," Fletcher Smith said.
Hopkins, the former middleweight champion, has verbally bashed McNabb like a punching bag for years. Hopkins, a Philadelphia native and die-hard Eagles fan, has repeatedly criticized McNabb for a variety of perceived grievances.
At a workout this week for his upcoming fight, Hopkins took time before a sparring session to rip McNabb. Referencing skin color, Hopkins said McNabb has, "got a suntan, that's all."
Hopkins has long claimed McNabb wasn't the right quarterback to lead the Eagles to a Super Bowl championship because he didn't have heart. Now, Hopkins says that's because McNabb was raised in a modest suburb outside of Chicago, and not the gritty south side of the city. Hopkins was raised in a more rough-and-ruthless part of North Philadelphia.
Reached by phone Thursday, Hopkins refused to soften his stance on McNabb.
"Look at professional boxing. I've never seen a suburban boxer be successful," Hopkins said. "There has to be something in the DNA of the person's experience, of what they overcame, to have that grit; like, I'm going to bite down and let it happen. I just didn't see that in him."
Hopkins will fight Jean Pascal for the light heavyweight championship May 21 in Montreal. If the 46-year-old Hopkins wins, he'll become the oldest boxer to win a world title.
At the end of a nearly 40-minute press session on Tuesday, Hopkins joked that with the Flyers and 76ers out of the playoffs and the Phillies' season still months from the pennant race, he is Philadelphia's sports "franchise."
"With McNabb out of town, I ain't got to worry about that no more," Hopkins said.
Hopkins was then asked what he thought about Eagles quarterback Michael Vick, who, like Hopkins, was raised in an impoverished community and spent time in prison. Vick served 18 months in federal prison for running a dogfighting ring. Hopkins started boxing in a Pennsylvania state prison, where he served five years beginning at the age of 17.
Hopkins went on an uninterrupted seven-minute, often factually incorrect, ramble that put down McNabb and praised Vick.
"I can relate, not to what he did, but I can relate to what kind of guy inside he is that McNabb didn't have," Hopkins said at a local gym. "That doesn't make McNabb a bad guy. It goes back to what we always say about upbringing."
McNabb and his agent had enough. Smith detailed McNabb's community service, his "impenetrable integrity," and refused to apologize for how he was raised.
"Donovan's parents are proud Americans who worked hard to give their sons the best childhood they could provide," Smith said. "He is unapologetically proud of sacrifices they made for him. Donovan and his brother were raised to be hard-working African-American men who were taught to believe in themselves."
McNabb was dragged into unwanted controversies when he played for the Eagles.
Conservative radio personality Rush Limbaugh was forced to resign from a gig on ESPN after making negative comments about McNabb in 2003. J. Whyatt Mondesire, the publisher of the Philadelphia Sunday Sun, a black newspaper, wrote in a column that McNabb was "mediocre" and that he found it insulting that McNabb had "concocted reasoning that African-American quarterbacks who can scramble and who can run the ball are somehow lesser field generals."
Wide receiver Terrell Owens saw his relationship with McNabb disintegrate into a full-blown feud a year after they led the Eagles to the Super Bowl. Hopkins has long backed Owens in that fight because he felt the outspoken receiver was more "real."
Hopkins called McNabb a good family man, a good corporate pitch man, and a "fantastic guy." But those qualities haven't been enough to stop Hopkins from attacking McNabb.
"You know how many times I hear in the city, from the hardcore Philly fan, that he's soft?" Hopkins said Thursday. "They're like, 'Yo, Bernard, this guy is soft.' Where do you think it comes from? It's in his DNA, man."
McNabb was criticized in 2006 for injecting a race element into his rift with Owens, saying the receiver's criticism amounted to "black-on-black crime."
Fletcher called for an end to playing the race card.
"It is vital that we extinguish this brand of willful ignorance," he said, "and instill in the minds of African-American youth, regardless of the parental makeup of your household, they can become anything they wish if they work hard and make the right decisions in life."
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