learning from shanahan-mcnabb drama

(photo by Brian Murphy)

[Note: Every Tuesday I write a column for SB Nation DC. This is that column.]

On days like this, I completely understand why so many fans of the Washington Redskins despise the media.

We now live in a world where anyone and everyone with a keyboard or microphone in front of them say or write anything that pops into their head with absolutely zero accountability.

That was clearly evident when Washington Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan opted to bench quarterback Donovan McNabb in the deciding moments of a winnable game against the Detroit Lions two weeks ago.

Once the media sensed blood in the water, countless writers, yodelers and talking heads did their best to pile on, igniting a firestorm that culminated with Shanahan being labeled everything from egotistical to a racist.

As soon as the herd was done slamming Shanahan for the decision to willingly insert backup Rex Grossman into the deciding moments of a football game, the topic inevitably turned to the future of Shanahan, McNabb and the franchise, in general.

That’s when the “experts” stepped up their game with definitive statement after definitive statement about how one questionable decision in the heat of the battle had no doubt doomed the Redskins for years to come and ensured a messy divorce was on the horizon.

“I don’t believe for a second that Donovan McNabb is going to be here now,” said Michael Wilbon on The Tony Kornheiser Show. “Not for a second. Done. First of all, the Arizona Cardinals, where he lives, need him too much. Or Minnesota. Or the Chicago Bears, where he lives.”

Wilbon went on to say, “This is what has always plagued the Redskins – ego and arrogance.”

This, mind you, is coming from a guy who openly admits he’s pals with McNabb. They’re neighbors in Arizona and have a long-standing friendship, so it wouldn’t be unreasonable to think that when Wilbon speaks on the subject, he’s got more of an insider’s perspective than most.

But don’t think for a second that Wilbon was alone.

“Donovan McNabb is never going to re-sign here,” said David Aldridge during the same show. “That’s over. You have now wasted two more draft picks on somebody that’s not going to be here.”

It was more of the same on the national stage, as the “worldwide leader in sports” happily trotted out an onslaught of so-called NFL experts to also shed light on the situation at Redskins Park.

“Personally I just think that Mike Shanahan was acting in the moment, and in a moment of anger, because this soup has been simmering for a while,” said ESPN’s Chris Mortensen. “It’s almost the worst-kept secret in the league, as far as I’m concerned. There’s been no enamorement with Donovan McNabb going back to the summer, and then as you went into the season you kept hearing that Mike Shanahan and Kyle Shanahan – his son and the offensive coordinator of the Redskins – had not been happy with the way Donovan practices.”

And just for the hell of it, here’s one more quote on the subject:

“If you don’t want Donovan McNabb to be your quarterback, you have to say that,” said Tom Jackson, also of ESPN. “The message sent across is I don’t want you to be my quarterback, I have another guy in mind, whenever I can find that guy. What this has done, though, for the rest of this year – because we’re still in this season – you have now, to some extent, fractured probably forever your relationship with the quarterback and your relationship therefore with the locker room.”

In related news, the Redskins and McNabb agreed on a five-year, $78-million contract extension Monday, with the 33-year-old taking home $41 million guaranteed.

Oh wait, that’s not related at all. In fact, some would even suggest that this news directly contradicts everything each of these well-respected media members said. To borrow a phrase from Wilbon – I’m not surprised.

If no one ever holds these guys accountable, then what’s to stop them from continuing to babble on senseless rhetoric?

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