By Mike Wise
Tuesday, April 6, 2010; D01
Look, I don't want to rain on Donovan McNabb's parade the day he smiles for the cameras and holds up the burgundy and gold No. 5 jersey he stole from Colt Brennan.
Six Pro Bowls, five NFC championship games, every passing record that matters in Philadelphia. He is certainly an upgrade to the position. Even a scorned and prideful Jason Campbell could admit that.
But before everyone congratulates the new brain trust for essentially doing what the old brain trust did -- procuring some other town's star instead of developing its own -- answer two questions:
Does anyone believe the Washington Redskins are poised to win the Super Bowl next season? What about 2012?
No and no.
If you agree with that assessment and do not live in denial or Ashburn, any well-argued case for acquiring McNabb just went out the window.
Offseason champions again? Of course. That's how we roll here.
Remember a year ago when the TV trucks flocked en masse up I-66 West and the anticipation of another celebrity acquisition quelled the anger from another missed postseason? Albert Haynesworth, the $100 million man.
How's that working out for the team and Mr. Butterworth at the moment?
Daniel Snyder can bring in a new regime. The owner can say he's ceding authority in football decisions to Mike Shanahan and Bruce Allen like never before. But the delusion ultimately continues. They still are in the business of selling hope more than harsh truth, hyperbole more than reality.
I appreciate the hope-against-hope mentality in town, even if it's enabling. Hey, many actually believe this is it, things will be different. While the realists see it this way:
The Redskins have been making awful personnel decisions, for the most part, for a decade. The Eagles have a 10-year history of making, for the most part, really good personnel decisions. To believe this is a smart move is to completely ignore the track record of the two teams since the new millennium began.
The Redskins still want their fans to believe they're one player away from NFL nirvana, and that a 33-year-old, 11-year veteran given up by a team in their own division is that player.
Talk about a chip off the old block. Allen can't just jettison the future with draft picks, go out and acquire an old quarterback, a couple of past-their-shelf-life running backs to push Clinton Portis and genuinely believe it will work; his dad already did that.
"The Over the Hill Gang," George Allen called the Redskins when he coached them back in the 1970s, and they were led by Billy Kilmer and assorted geezers. The difference almost 40 years later is the Redskins were 4-12 a year ago, not even close to the precipice. Their quarterback was sacked more times than all but two other quarterbacks in the NFL.
You know where I stand on Jason Campbell. He never had a legitimate shot with a healthy line. Last offseason, at the very moment the Redskins could have instilled confidence in the first quarterback since Brad Johnson to start and finish a 16-game season in Washington, they treated Campbell as if he was on the practice squad. At least his job went to a player of real merit; oh, the indignity if the Redskins' dalliances with Jay Cutler or Mark Sanchez went anywhere last season. (Okay, Sanchez would not have been bad but he would not have lasted the season with that line).
So for all the misguided people who blamed Campbell for the team's misfortunes -- as if McNabb or, hey, Joe Montana or John Elway, would have taken you to the NFC playoffs behind D'Anthony Batiste and Chad Rinehart, take heart: I finally agree with you today:
I'm happy Campbell will soon be gone too, if for different reasons. It means he'll gets out of NFL purgatory, where one thing never changes: If you're already on the roster and have carried water for the franchise you'll always be less valuable than the exotic candidate from abroad.
Speaking of Big Al, this whole D. McNabb love-in overshadows a monster story: that the No. 1 free agent in the NFL a year ago is now the NFL's No. 1 overpaid malcontent, a guy the Eagles thought so little of they wouldn't even give up a second-round draft pick to procure him.
Shanahan appears to be seething every time Haynesworth's name is mentioned. He can't believe a guy who essentially has made $31 million for 14 games, can't join the team for offseason workouts because he has "his guy" to train him. His guy? Who, PX-90's Tony Horton? Some Nepalese Sherpa with special herbs and a diet regime more effective than driving past Wendy's without stopping?
What we have now is two heels-in-the-dirt hardheads who won't budge. And who always wins that game? The coach. (Well, this coach. Jim Zorn would have been told to keep his mouth shut and let Portis do what he wants).
Anyhow, this better be a wake-up call for Haynesworth. He would do well to not focus on the Redskins trying to move him; he should focus on the fact that nobody else wants him.
Also, does anyone have a major problem with making a trade inside your own division, basically asking Redskins fans to suddenly fall in love with a guy they found comfort in loathing? And don't start with, "Remember when Sonny came over from the Eagles in '64? How'd that work out?" Sonny Jurgensen came to Washington after just seven years in Philadelphia. His best years were ahead of him. Unless he's channeling Brett Favre, McNabb probably has three quality seasons of signal-calling left. As beloved as he is in parts of Philly, he's also a player who has polarized Eagles fans, who always remind you of his 1-4 mark in NFC championship games.
Having a future Hall of Famer like McNabb is good for the turnstile. He will make people watch, spend money, give people the same hope that is usually taken away by November.
But it seems this is more about not being able to say the word "rebuild" than anything. They can't let themselves not say, "reload." Eleven years running, Snyder is still addicted to the idea the Redskins are just an extra point away from the Lombardi Trophy, and now McNabb becomes the answer.
Bottom line, instead of forward-thinking, instead of drafting and developing a player who could be the Redskins' quarterback the next 10 years -- Sam Bradford or Jimmy Clausen -- the Redskins traded for a player who is past his prime and will turn 34 in November.
The spin: No-brainer. How many times can you acquire a Pro Bowler without giving up a first-round pick, for a guy that already knows your division?
The truth: Andy Reid and the Philadelphia Eagles know Donovan McNabb better than anyone. And they were inexplicably okay with trading him to another team in their own division.
Think about that while you're rushing to the team store for your new No. 5 jersey.