By MARK F. GRAY
Let the countdown begin to the official end of the Donovan McNabb era in the nation’s capital.
In a preemptive strike clearly designed to let the rest of the NFL teams know that his client’s skills haven’t eroded to the point where he could no longer be an effective quarterback, McNabb’s agent Fletcher Smith blasted head coach Mike Shanahan and his son/offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan for a relationship gone bad and disrespecting his client. The public statement claims that McNabb’s relationship with Kyle has fallen apart because of strategy differences and dsparaging remarks made behind his back.
After he was pulled from the last drive in Detroit there were remarks by both Shanahans regarding McNabb’s knowledge of the two minute offense and his physical conditioning. In the 525 word statement Smith states that McNabb reported to camp in the best shape of his career having spent all off season in Washington after not missing a single organized team activity or mini camp practice.
Smith also alleges that a source of the friction stems from McNabb’s strategy suggestion that the team use more screen passes to slow down the pass rush against an offensive line that has yielded more sacks than any team in the league. He claims that while Kyle was reluctant to calls those types of plays with McNabb under center, those plays helped Rex Grossman to his stellar performance against the Dallas Cowboys last week.
Perhaps the most damaging allegation is that after McNabb led the Washington Football Team to what should have been a game saving drive against the Tampa Bay Buccanneers at the end of regulation, Kyle said that “would be the last drive he ever started for him”. As of Thursday evening there had been no comment from the organization in response to the statement.
Smith’s statement seems to conflict with McNabb’s remarks during his radio show on Tuesday where he said he was open to returning to Washington next season. However, after this public attack it would appear that McNabb’s camp is hoping to jump start the release process which would pay him $3.5 million if the team cuts him. It has already cost the team a second and third round pick in the NFL draft which sets their rebuilding process back even longer.
For a team that has been attractive to free agents throughout the NFL for their penchant for overpaying, it will be interesting to see if Washington is now as attractive a destination as it once was following this very public controversy. While statistically this has been a subpar season for the six time all pro quarterback his reputation was spotless before dealing with the drama in D.C.. There are those who suggest that many talented players will now forsake the potential for an enormous payday in the nation’s capital because of the perception of how McNabb was treated by this organization.