IF IT WERE up to Donovan McNabb, his nephew Darnell Nurse would be playing football. But it wasn't his call. "It was his parents' decision," says the six-time Eagles Pro Bowler. Nurse's dad, Richard, was a receiver for the CFL's Hamilton Tiger-Cats. Mindful of what years of hits had done to his body, the elder Nurse reasoned that hockey would be gentler on his son's knees.
So Darnell, who grew up near Toronto, took to the ice with gusto and proved to be such a natural that at age 13 he joined his uncle's grueling offseason workouts with other pros. Question was, did he have the necessary grit? We're talking 40-yard sprints up a hill in 100-degree Arizona heat. "It was a test," Nurse says. "I couldn't quit or let them show me up."