Oh, Donovan: Bitter Comments About the Redskins Hurt McNabb, Not the Shanahans


Image via GQ

Oh, Donovan. Why do you keep doing this?

It’s gotten to the point that every time I see Donovan McNabb’s name in a headline, I cringe. First, he urged Peyton Manning not to go to the Redskins (on second thought, I won’t hold that one against him). Now, McNabb has taken to the airwaves (you can watch it here) to unleash his most pointed attack on the Washington Redskins and its coaching staff by saying that the team will not be a good fit for likely 2nd overall pick in April’s draft, Robert Griffin III.

On ESPN’s “First Take” on Thursday, McNabb laid into his former employer, specifically head coach Mike Shanahan and his son Kyle, Washington’s offensive coordinator. When asked if the Eagles former quarterback thought that RGIII would succeed in the nation’s capital, here was McNabb’s response.

“No. I say that because a lot of times, ego gets too involved when it comes to being in Washington. Here’s a guy coming out who’s very talented, mobile, strong-armed. We’ve already heard he’s intelligent. Football mind. Are you going to cater the offense around his talents and what he’s able to do? Or are you going to bring the Houston offense with Matt Schaub over to him and have him kind of be embedded into that?”

McNabb has some credible points. The Redskins, and specifically the Shanahans, have clearly been a mess for quite some time. Donovan contends that this year is do or die for Washington’s head coach, and that very well could be the case. I tend to think, though, that Shanahan the elder has at least two years, as the rookie season of a top quarterback doesn’t say much about his future success in the NFL.

What McNabb’s comments show is that the talk about ego goes both ways. Donovan McNabb’s ego is clearly wounded after a disastrous post-Philadelphia playing career. That much is clear. And it’s understandable. It can’t be easy for a man who was once one of the top quarterbacks in the league to be benched twice by the Redskins, traded to the Vikings for peanuts, then released by that team upon request, not to be picked up by even teams that could have used some veteran experience at quarterback after injuries to their starters (like the Texans and Bears).

But McNabb’s description of RGIII is a description of himself. At least he thinks it is. It’s an apt description of what Donovan was when he himself was drafted as the second overall pick in 1999. But it’s not what Donovan is today. And that, more than anything, is the issue. That distance between reality and perception in McNabb’s view of himself and his current capabilities.

I get that McNabb is positioning himself for a career in broadcast (as hopefully he has finally come to accept the fact that there is no future for him in the NFL). He’s going to get one–that much is certain.  But why does McNabb continue to  publicly comment on a past job gone bad? It’s like a scorned lover who just won’t get over a bad breakup. At first you listen, sympathize. But after a while, you’re sick of hearing about it. Get over it already and move on.

It’s been that latter stage for Donovan for quite some time. I love Donovan McNabb but it’s time to pipe down, son.

What does Donovan think he will gain from making these comments? Another chance at a starting job because everyone will finally understand that is was Mike and Kyle Shanahan that were the reasons for the Redskins’ failure in 2010, not McNabb’s? And just forget about that whole episode with the Vikings, too. The Shanahans have declined to comment on the statements of their former quarterback because really, they don’t have to. They are gainfully employed in the NFL. Donovan is not.

McNabb’s comments veer dangerously close to seeming to wish failure on RGIII. That’s not a good move. Don’t root against the hope represented by the NFL draft overall, and particularly one of the nations most talented (if not the most) and likeable prospects. He represents youth. Vitality. Athleticism. Vigor. Talent. Happiness. A future. The draft and players like Griffin very literally represent hope–to franchises, fanbases, the players themselves, and their families.

I have always been a vocal supporter of McNabb because, despite difficult circumstances, I felt he always carried himself with class. He  is admired by many for that very reason. Whether or not he wishes to accept it, his time in the NFL is over. The last two seasons were a sad ending to what was otherwise a strong career. While McNabb cannot undo what happened in Washington and Minnesota, he can control his public persona. Whether it’s on TV or in people’s hearts, bitterness doesn’t sell. It doesn’t endear people to you. And it doesn’t change a thing.

When Donovan McNabb makes headlines these days, it’s not because of anything he has done on the field. It’s because he’s said something sensational about a current player, coach, or situation in the league. While it may make for good ratings, McNabb is better than that. Or at least he should be.

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1 Response to “Oh, Donovan: Bitter Comments About the Redskins Hurt McNabb, Not the Shanahans”

  • WIP Radio gave a lot of air time to this topic yesterday and played a fair portion of what Donovan had to say. I was driving at the time and almost ditched the car. While we all can agree he was the best QB the Eagles’ franchise has ever had, we probably can also agree now that when it is time for his “retire moment” to come at Lincoln Financial and he has that mike all to himself to address the entire city on his career here…he’ll find a way to screw it up. He obviously has seen some other players-turned-analysts make their way up the broadcasting ladder by being outlandish in their comments about other players and coaches…and is indeed trying to audition for a role. I am sure ESPN loves him because as a Philly-bashing outfit they’d like nothing better than to have him using Andy Reid and his former team as a pinata. “Bitterness doesn’t sell.” Agreed. No more Campbell Soup contracts in this guy’s future. It does get you on National TV “making news” however, especially when you are taking a veiled shot at RGIII…which you correctly read between the lines. When Donovan opens his mouth like this, he usually is looking to inflict collateral damage as well as a direct hit. Based on how he has looked and played recently, he’s surely done on the field. How well he does off the field is still up to him, but while all this “noise” may get him a gig initially…he might want to pull back on the anger and jealousy thing and concentrate more often on X’s and O’s if he wants to be taken seriously. Funny thing, he was always smiling on the field even after making horrible errors. Doesn’t seem to be as “happy” now.

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