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Donovan McNabb contract extension with Redskins affirms Mike Shanahan's commitment

Patrons at the BlackFinn saloon on I Street react to the news of Redskins quarterback Donovan McNabb's five year extension.

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By Mike Wise
Washington Post Sports Writer
Tuesday, November 16, 2010; 1:44 AM

Unless the old man really did cover for his hyper-competitive kid, like Mike Wilbon says, there is no way to plausibly explain how Mike Shanahan did not want Donovan McNabb to run his two-minute offense two weeks ago after the Redskins coach signed off on a $78 million deal for his quarterback.

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In light of recent events, the move to keep McNabb is a 10 on the out-of-left-field scale. And as reactive and dangerous as that might sound, it makes very good sense in the long term. Blowout loss to Donovan's old team notwithstanding.

Yes, the timing of the announcement - hours before a national television audience tuned into a "Monday Night Football" encounter between McNabb and an Eagles franchise that gave up on him - was pure Daniel Snyder: Big, glitzy and highly questionable, especially given McNabb's recent numbers, apparently slow transition to a new offensive scheme and, okay, being thrown under the bus by the Shanahan clan after the Detroit debacle.

But that's all short view. The decision to extend McNabb's contract was audacious, bold and finally shows a genuine level of commitment on Shanahan's part - an acknowledgement, if you will.

By getting General Manager Bruce Allen to work out the details and Snyder to sign another Monopoly-like check, the man who lords over the Redskins like no coach before probably realized he could not pass "Go" and end up in the Pro Football Hall of Fame simply because he drew John Elway.

Either before or after Rex Grossman was crumpled in Detroit, Shanahan realized he needed McNabb just as much as McNabb needed him if the Redskins actually had designs on reaching an NFC title game, and perhaps beyond, in the next three years.

That's the realistic amount of time the coach and the player who turns 34 in nine days will be together and also about the time the window will still be open for a Super Bowl with McNabb at the helm - provided money is soon spent on procuring a respectable offensive line.

In turn, McNabb signs the last big-money deal of his career with an organization he has said he is committed to time and again, and continues marketing his image and the Redskins with his telegenic smile.

He also uses Shanahan's coaching acumen to get to Canton much quicker.

McNabb is not a first-ballot Hall of Famer, and many of the game's smartest observers believe his Hall-of-Fame resume is still incomplete despite six Pro Bowls, five NFC title games and one Super Bowl appearance.

If he gets to at least another NFC championship game with a second franchise, there is no question his credentials would be worthy of quick induction.

Shanahan with McNabb at the helm, meanwhile, has a chance to become the next Mike Holmgren, a guy who took two organizations to the Super Bowl.

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