With Donovan McNabb benched, loyalty gets waived at Redskins Park

By Mike Wise
Wednesday, November 3, 2010; 1:37 AM

If I'm Donovan McNabb today, I've stopped worrying about the decision with less than two minutes left Sunday to replace a six-time Pro Bowler with Rex Grossman. I wouldn't even worry about Chris Mortensen's ESPN report Tuesday claiming McNabb won't return with the Redskins next season.

What I would worry about, though, is the concept of loyalty in Washington. How less than six months after McNabb was feted as the franchise quarterback the Redskins had been missing all these years he was quickly thrown overboard.

Dumped in a hailstorm of double talk by his coach. Mike Shanahan initially said McNabb didn't get the two-minute offense, then a day later blamed his benching decision on McNabb's lack of cardio fitness. This after a week in which McNabb essentially duct-taped his bruised body to play and didn't participate regularly in practice drills.

McNabb was left twisting in the wind by a coach who has now indicted the intellectual abilities and physical fitness of an established professional in a span of 48 hours, without once uttering, "Oh, yeah, and the offensive line we failed to significantly upgrade is just putrid. Oh, and we probably should have found a younger, more athletic target at wide receiver than Joey Galloway, who we acquired off waivers from the Paleolithic era."

McNabb, who refuted his coach's assertions in that diplomatic, corporate, Donovan way on Tuesday, has to ask himself in the wake of this week's subterfuge and spin:

Forget whether they do or don't want me; why would I want to remain with them?

If the coach and his whipsaw progeny, the offensive coordinator, even want McNabb to re-sign, is this the kind of political shark tank he wants to spend the rest of his career with - the kind of franchise that has no problem bringing in JaMarcus Russell for a look-see Tuesday? Because we all know how much a certain No. 1 draft bust was a workout maven and committed student of the playbook in Oakland, no? Real cardio freak, that JaMarcus.

Really, have they a bottom in Ashburn? Year after year they ply the most loyal, gullible fans in America with a sweet, cheap wine called Hope. Despite winning two playoff games the past 18 years and just three winning records under Daniel Snyder since 1999, the masses keep coming and paying for parking, Barcaloungers - hell, jerseys of third-string quarterbacks from Hawaii marketed in the team store.

Redskins fans, by and large, have incredibly hung in there. They have let go of so much resentment, the empty promises of small-time Steve Spurrier and the homespun naivete of Jim Zorn. They even weathered one of the all-time, co-dependent relationships between a GM and an owner. And for some unknown reason they kept hitting that bottle of Hope, became so inebriated they didn't even bat an eye when a marketing campaign entitled, "R u in?" was thrust upon them last spring.

Remember who headed up that campaign? Go ahead. Roll the commercial.

The pieces are in place. The architect has arrived. The leader is in command. And the franchise quarterback is in the huddle.

"Are you in?" Donovan McNabb intones, pointing, as he looks purposefully into the camera.

"Redskins club seats. R u in?" the advertisement ends.

Sad, no, the franchise quarterback who asked "Are you in?" five months ago has to ask whether he is in or out today?

That McNabb, with all he's accomplished in the NFL, even has to pose that question makes you want to tell him to have his agent call Arizona or Minnesota the day after the season ends.

If this unseemly drama doesn't go away and the Redskins organization doesn't make amends quickly to its starting quarterback, McNabb should play another eight games here and run away as fast his 33-year-old legs can carry him - to prove to Mike Shanahan that he still has two things: Pumping lungs to run a lousy two-minute drill and his pride.

© 2010 The Washington Post Company