Can Mike Shanahan and Donovan McNabb speak frankly to me? Because I'm real confused. Are they in, or not?
Donovan McNabb spoke to ESPN 980 Redskins Radio yesterday afternoon where the the main topic of interest was his status with the team. McNabb wanted to speak about anything but that, although he knew those questions were coming.
Regarding his agent Fletcher Smith's salvo at Kyle Shanahan and the Redskins, D-Mac said "I support my agent," a statement he was to repeat several times. McNabb later said “He (Smith) put his thoughts into it, not Donovan’s thoughts.”
Was Donovan saying, "I disagree with what Smith said, but defend his right to say it?" Don't know. I do know this is not a freedom of speech issue.
It's the agent's job to speak up for his client and watch out for his interest. (See Rosenhaus, Drew) It's not clear from the interview whether Smith was synthesizing McNabb's feelings and restating it on his own, or providing cover for McNabb in a conflict with the coaching staff. McNabb does not make clear if Smith's assessment of the situation is a true one. As McNabb put it, “When I read the whole thing, I didn’t see nothing wrong with it.” If that's so, why say that the statement was Smith's and not his?
Smith, apparently acting on his own, blasted the Redskins and offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan in particular in a statement released December 23, 2010. The Shanahans have made it extremely difficult for McNabb to maintain a relationship with the team, accused Smith, by statements both disrespectful and unprecedented.
"Unfortunately, it appears as though the Redskins coaching staff decided that their 12-year veteran quarterback, who flawlessly executed one of the NFL's most complex offensive systems (in Philadelphia), is unable to grasp Kyle’s offense."
Despite Smith's statement of tension between he and the younger Shanahan, McNabb said he had a good relationship with Kyle, echoing Shanahan's own statement issued the day after Smith's statement was known. Therefore, there must a problem with Smith's statement. Yes?
McNabb expressed his preference for keeping discussions with the coaches private as he made several attempts to move to discussion to the upcoming Giants game. That's the professional approach. But generally, employees insist on privacy when they are discussing termination with their boss (I'm just saying...). McNabb said several times that he wants to remain with the Redskins and forcefully denied Adam Schefter's report that he would ask for his release at the end of the season, the most forthright thing he said in the interview.
After watching Jim Zorn twist with Sherm Lewis calling plays from the game plan that Zorn devised, we know it's possible for McNabb to work in this atmosphere. It's not possible to win with this atmosphere. The Redskins have become as toxic for McNabb as it was for Jason Campbell.
Mike Shanahan has his own issue with straight-forward speaking. Shanahan was for 14 years the unquestioned football authority of the Denver Broncos. I don't think he is used to having his statements assessed for consistency, much less challenged. He's not good at explaining himself, instead coming across in public as an insensitive clod. I'm sure he is not, but poor communication skill is a contributing factor in this dust up with McNabb. It's a critical flaw in leaders.
However this plays out, both sides have to get better. McNabb and Shanahan are new in DC. Neither understood that their credibility stayed behind in Philadelphia and Denver. So yeah, both have to explain themselves better to each other and to the people who buy tickets; for Shanahan because fan buy-in to his leadership has taken a big hit and for McNabb because his fans are confused about what he truly wants.
McNabb's fans are prepared to advocate for whatever he wants to do, once he clues us in on what that is.
Declarative sentences, please.
DC Pro Sports Report story.
ESPN 980 story
Jason Reid, Washington Post - both sides need a quick end to the relationship
Jemele Hill, ESPN.com - McNabb should set agenda