Correction to This Article
This article incorrectly said that Redskins quarterback Donovan McNabb has commented publicly about his benching only during his weekly appearance on ESPN 980 radio, a program he is contractually obligated to do. McNabb also has a contractual agreement with TBD TV to do a weekly television show and has commented on that program as well.
On Football

As Redskins' Donovan McNabb plays both sides of the fence, it's clear both sides need a quick end to the relationship

The Washington Post's LaVar Arrington, Rick Maese, Cindy Boren and Jonathan Forsythe attempt to make sense of the war of words between Donovan McNabb's agent, Fletcher Smith, and Kyle Shanahan.
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, December 29, 2010; 12:29 AM

It no longer matters whether quarterback Donovan McNabb works hard enough or could run the Washington Redskins' offense effectively.

And even if offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan has undermined McNabb all season, as McNabb's agent recently suggested, the season is almost over.

The most important thing now is that the Redskins quickly move on from their latest self-inflicted public relations disaster. And ending McNabb's ineffective partnership with Mike and Kyle Shanahan as soon as possible would be a great first step.

Washington could try to trade McNabb, who cost them second- and fourth-round draft picks to acquire from Philadelphia less than nine months ago.

But he is 34 and coming off his worst season statistically as a full-time starter. McNabb would seem to have little trade value, and his poor relationship with the Shanahans is now public. That's another distraction the Redskins could do without.

Even Coach Mike Shanahan acknowledges it has been "kinda like a soap opera" at Redskins Park since he decided to bench McNabb for the final three games and demote him to third-string for the last two. Last week's dueling news releases issued by McNabb's longtime representative, Fletcher Smith III, and Shanahan about the benching offered additional proof that a speedy divorce is needed.

Smith was fed up with numerous news reports, citing anonymous sources, that questioned McNabb's commitment to preparation and ability to read defenses. McNabb is in his 12th NFL season and Smith is a battle-tested contract negotiator, and "when you see these things [reports] constantly coming up, you start to have a pretty good idea where they're coming from," Smith said in a recent phone interview.

In his statement blasting the Shanahans for their handling of the six-time Pro Bowler, Smith revealed his belief that Kyle Shanahan is, at least in part, responsible for some of the disparaging leaks. This took the fight to another level.

It's one thing for Smith to privately share his thoughts about the Shanahans with confidants. But he went at them directly, challenging the man who runs Washington's football operation and essentially calling his son a liar.

During his weekly media availability this season, Kyle Shanahan has rarely praised McNabb. But he hasn't ripped him, either. Smith made it known that, in his opinion, Kyle has knifed McNabb in the back behind the scenes.

Kyle added another twist the next day. He informed reporters he had met with McNabb, who apparently denied providing the foundation for Smith's statement, saying his agent's comments did not accurately reflect McNabb's feelings.


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