The six-time Pro Bowl star was formally introduced Tuesday as Redskins Park. All things being equal, he would rather be preparing for a 12th season with the Philadelphia Eagles, but an Easter Sunday trade between NFC East rivals has opened what he called "a new chapter in the book of Donovan."
"I've always believed in finishing where you started," McNabb said. "I think there's a lot to be said with that. Not a lot of quarterbacks in this league are able to do that these days. Sometimes change is better. Sometimes you're forced into change. I would have loved to (stay in Philadelphia), but it didn't happen."
Instead, he is with the Redskins and new coach Mike Shanahan, and both went to great lengths to say that trading two draft picks for a 33-year-old quarterback with a few nicks is a solid investment. They did so by repeatedly invoking Elway, who was 34 when Shanahan became coach of the Broncos in 1995.
"I'm turning 34 this year," McNabb said. "And he finished John's career with two Super Bowls. Hopefully I can continue to follow behind that."
It makes for quick answer to the boos McNabb has heard in Philadelphia in recent years.
"People were saying John Elway should retire," Shanahan said, "until he won the Super Bowl."
Before the pursuit of such lofty goals, there were the necessary reflections and thank yous from McNabb to Philadelphia. Most of his words for his former team and city were upbeat and gracious - "I felt I was treated fair" - with maybe a slight dig or two thrown in.
Surprisingly, McNabb said he has spoken "not much" about the trade with Andy Reid, his coach for his entire tenure with the Eagles. He portrayed himself as fallout from a Philadelphia youth movement.
"They're rebuilding, and they're going young," McNabb said. "So I never knew 33 years old was old, but I guess I'm too old."
And, while Shanahan's offense will have its similarities to Reid's, McNabb cited what he thinks will be one substantial difference.
"It starts with the run game," McNabb said. "I know probably a lot of you come from Philly don't know much about that run game. But we will run the ball here."
McNabb said he expects "hopefully cheers" when he returns to the Philadelphia with the Redskins next season, yet he refused to portray it a special date on his mental calendar.
"I don't look at it any different than playing the Giants or Dallas," McNabb said. "Nothing like I'm going to run my head through a locker or start throwing stuff through my house. It's an opportunity for us to play another team."