Redskins coach Mike Shanahan said last week that “anything short of the Super Bowl is a failure,” raising a lot of eyebrows and leading to quite a bit of criticism of Shanahan. But the context of the Shanahan quote suggests that his critics were off base.
As I noted when I wrote about Shanahan’s comments, the Redskins’ official Twitter account quoted Shanahan saying that Redskins players have set the expectations that anything short of a Super Bowl is a failure.
Washington Redskins (@Redskins) August 23, 2013
But the Redskins’ tweet didn’t make clear that Shanahan was talking not about his own team, but about former Redskins players. Shanahan was saying that the great Redskins teams of the past had raised the bar, not that his current players expect to win the Super Bowl.
“You’re with a football team that has won Super Bowls,” Shanahan said. “People are in the Hall of Fame — players as well as coaches. And you know that they have set the standard for this organization. Anything short of the Super Bowl is a failure, and that’s good. That’s good. Because there’s only one team that’s happy at the end of the year. Our players know that if you work and you do the little things the right way you’ve got a chance to accomplish that.”
As Dan Steinberg of the Washington Post details, the quote took on a life of its own, culminating in a segment on Pardon the Interruption in which Tony Kornheiser and Mike Wilbon ripped Shanahan for saddling his team with overly high expectations.
That wasn’t Shanahan’s intention. All Shanahan was trying to say was that the Redskins are a storied franchise, and that their fans have come to expect the best. Not exactly a controversial comment. Once read in context.