Donovan McNabb’s nephew is finding his way in hockey

June 24, 2013

Seth Jones, Darnell Nurse and Jonathan Drouin watched Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Finals. (Gail Oskin / AP)

The McNabb family is branching out.

Darnell Nurse, the 18-year-old nephew of former NFL quarterback Donovan McNabb, is a top prospect in the NHL draft whose parents steered him away from football.

“My dad, my mom too, for safety reasons told me to stay away from football,” Nurse, who is expected to be a first-round draft pick June 30, told the New York Times last week. “I’m thankful for it now.”

Nurse’s father, Richard,  played for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats for six years and his son said that he has no concussion-related issues. Rather, Richard Nurse has what his son said are “mangled hands” and “an elbow that doesn’t move right.” Darnell realizes that hockey is a contact sport in which concussions are an issue, too, and said he takes “the risk because I love playing the sport.”

“I can probably control a little more hitting people in hockey than in football,” he said. “Every play in football, you get hit. But in the back, I can control when that happens.”

Nurse told the Philadelphia Inquirer in May that he often gets advice from his uncle.

“When [McNabb] played, I used to go to Philadelphia for two or three games a year until I got busy with hockey,” Nurse said. “I got to see all the work he put in. Our relationship is really tight. We talk all the time, and he’s been a special person in my life. I go to him for advice whenever I need it.”

Nurse, who is black, is part of an incoming draft class that doesn’t lack for diversity. Another prospect, Seth Jones, is the son of Popeye Jones, a Brooklyn Nets assistant and former NBA player. Jones may well be the top player taken.

“It definitely shows that hockey, as much as it’s diverse, is becoming even more diverse,” he said.

Follow @CindyBoren on Twitter and on Facebook.

After spending most of her career in traditional print sports journalism, Cindy began blogging and tweeting, first as NFL/Redskins editor, and, since August 2010, at The Early Lead. She also is the social media editor for Sports.
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Cindy Boren | June 24, 2013