For months, Redskins quarterback Donovan McNabb downplayed his upcoming return to Philadelphia.
Playing against the Eagles, the franchise he led for 11 years?
No big deal, he said.
It's one game of 16 on the schedule.
Well, the Eagles game is finally at hand: this Sunday, at Lincoln Financial Field, 4:15 p.m. kickoff.
Any second thoughts?
"I'm going to still downplay it," he said. "For me to stand here and try to explain how my emotions might be or what's going to be going through my mind, I think that's kind of ludicrous. The thing about it is, I can respond to that better when the game is over."
Asked what emotions he would feel walking into Lincoln Financial Field, McNabb replied: "I don't know. I'm sure I'll have some type of feeling. Who doesn't have feelings getting ready for a game? I just hope I walk out the right tunnel."
It has been nearly six months since the Eagles shipped McNabb to the Redskins for a pair of draft picks.
In McNabb's 11 years in Philadelphia, he threw for 32,873 yards and 216 touchdowns, posted a career quarterback rating of 86.5 and earned six Pro Bowl nods. He guided the Eagles to the postseason seven times and played in five NFC Championship games from 2000-09.
A Super Bowl title is the only thing that McNabb was unable to accomplish in Philadelphia.
Now McNabb returns to Philadelphia as a visitor. He will dress for the first time in the visitor's locker room at Lincoln Financial Field.
How does he expect to be received by Philly fans?
"Hopefully cheers," he said.
Later, he acknowledged that he would not be surprised if he heard some boos, though.
His tenure with the Eagles had plenty of highlights, including an appearance in Super Bowl XXIX. He also endured a series of controversies, from booing by a segment of Eagles fans on draft day to the well-publicized spat with wide receiver Terrell Owens.
Some say that McNabb was never fully embraced in Philadelphia.
What does McNabb think?
"There were a lot of people who were truly accepting of what I was able to do and respect me as a person and a player," he said. "I do feel like I was appreciated there."
It's clear the Eagles organization – and what the franchise did for his career – means a lot to him, even as he begins a new chapter of his career with the Redskins.
"Eleven years is something you can't just forget abut in a year," he said. "We had a lot of success. The records I hold there are due to [Eagles head coach Andy Reid] taking that chance on me in '99, the great players I played with, the future Hall of Famers I played with. I'm just excited I had the opportunity to play with those guys.
"But life moves on. And I want to have that same success in Washington."
If he holds a grudge against the Eagles for trading him, he is not revealing it.
"For me to come here with a chip on my shoulder ... I mean every player has a chip on their shoulder about something," McNabb said. "Is that something I use? Maybe just an added chip. But I have a whole season ahead of me and that's what I'm focused on."
It has not taken long for McNabb to make an impact with the Redskins.
In just his second game in the burgundy and gold, McNabb threw for 426 yards, the fourth-highest single-game passing total in franchise history. It was the third-highest total in McNabb's career.
He has completed 60.8 percent of his passes for 833 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.
Already this season, McNabb has moved past Hall of Famers Troy Aikman and Steve Young on the NFL's all-time passing yardage list. He also surpassed Hall of Famer Johnny Unitas on the all-time completions list.
The Redskins are 1-2, though, and are coming off a disappointing 30-16 loss to the St. Louis Rams.
McNabb said his focus has been on turning the team's fortunes around.
"All of us last week, we kind of felt embarrassed the way we played [vs. St. Louis]," he said. "We just look forward to getting out and hopefully erasing that game in our mind."