Shanahan’s treatment of McNabb about respect, not race

Earlier this week, author John Feinstein dropped a bombshell regarding Redskins coach Mike Shanahan’s handling of the benching of quarterback Donovan McNabb.  Feinstein argued that the various explanations offered by Shanahan and his son, Kyle, to support the decision suggest stereotypical thinking based on race.

“I think there’s racial coding going on here, and it’s my belief that that kind of behavior is worth firing a coach for,” Feinstein said on CSN Washington’s Washington Post Live Extra!, via Dan Steinberg of D.C. Sports Bog.  “Dan Snyder’s not gonna do it, but I think it’s out of control.”

Feinstein pointed to the contention that McNabb didn’t know the terminology for the two-minute offense (in other words, as Feinstein describes it, “he’s stupid”), the “cardiovascular endurance” fallback (in other words, per Feinstein, “he’s fat”), and the suspected leaking by Shanahan to Chris Mortensen of ESPN that the playbook had to be cut in half for McNabb.  Feinstein also accused Mortensen of being “culpable in this, too, because I guarantee he didn’t call Donovan McNabb for a response.”

Given Feinstein’s attack on ESPN’s role in this mess, it’s no surprise that ESPN’s Rick Reilly has come out strong in opposition to Feinstein’s views, curiously omitting any reference to the rip on ESPN and trotting out on behalf of Shanahan a “some of my best friends are black”-style argument that overlooks the possibility that Shanahan can be not a full-blown racist but nevertheless poisoned by the grossly outdated perception that race is a factor in the overall performance of a quarterback.

Feinstein’s comments didn’t catch much notice as first, but as the week has unfolded his views have generated more and more attention.

Former Bucs and Colts coach Tony Dungy dismissed the notion of racism on Friday’s Dan Patrick Show.

I think we’re way beyond that,” Dungy said.  “Given the fact that they traded for him.  If he was already on the team and Mike Shanahan came in, then maybe you’d have something to say.”
We agree with Dungy.  It’s not a matter of race, but of respect.  When Shanahan decides that he’s upset with a player, he arguably becomes what employment lawyers call an “equal opportunity asshole.”  (That’s a statement of opinion on our part, not fact.)  And he’ll bench a guy or ride a guy or otherwise disrespect a guy regardless of race, creed, national origin, or any other factor protected by federal, state, or local law.
Shanahan has taken on plenty of players in his time.  He justifies the actions by convincing himself that he’s acting in the best interests of the team to do so.  Regardless of whether the approach is misguided, his efforts to show specific players who’s the boss has nothing to do with a player’s race and everything to do with showing the player who’s the boss.
If Shanahan had a bias against African-American quarterbacks, he wouldn’t have traded for McNabb.  That said, Shanahan’s explanation for the benching of McNabb was sufficiently clumsy to permit a reasonable person to infer that Shanahan’s views regarding McNabb have been influenced by racial stereotypes.  In lawsuits alleging racial discrimination in employment, evidence of inconsistent or unbelievable excuses for the challenged decision fuels the notion that the employer’s inability to fess up to the real reason means that the real reason is being concealed because the real reason is a reason that would be an illegal reason.
Shame on Shanahan for not being sensitive to the possibility that the conflicting explanations reasonably could be viewed by some as “racial coding.”  While we don’t agree with Feinstein’s position, the fact that smart people like Feinstein can come to that conclusion means that Shanahan should have simply told the truth from the get go.
The truth, as best we can tell, is that McNabb hasn’t played well, and that the Shanahans hoped to get his attention via the late-game benching.  If that doesn’t work, the next benching will come earlier in the game.  Eventually, McNabb will fall to No. 2 on the depth chart.
The fact that the Shanahans for whatever reason declined to tell the truth opens the door for speculation of the kind in which Feinstein engaged.  Which shows that the knee-jerk reaction by NFL coaches to lie about anything and everything can have a wide variety of unintended consequences.

51 responses to “Shanahan’s treatment of McNabb about respect, not race

  1. Shanahan is clearly not a good talent evaluator & appears to not be a very good coach. But Danny won’t fire him cuz he wants to show he can be patient & not meddle.

  2. Some of my best friends are doughy Jewish sports writers with an overblown sense of self importance….but..

    I heard Junior spewing this garbage on Sportstalk 980 in DC…even the hosts of the show asked him if he’d lost his mind.

  3. I believe Shanny said he was a fat, slow, lazy QB. Well he didn’t use those exact words. So this gent is saying he is a fat, slow, lazy, black QB. Imagine that. It’s a wonderful world.

  4. The Benching was Kyle’s call not his father’s. Daddy is just covering up so that hen he retires next year the son can transition “smoothly” into the reign as head coach. Nepotism……gotta love it?

  5. Good Lord….racism? Seriously?

    Why is it so difficult to accept the fact that DM has been playing like crap (O line not withstanding) and got benched for his play and has had his coaches trying to protect him by spinning it? Is it really such a stretch and is it really even a big deal? Isn’t that what almost ALL coaches do?

    It’s called COACHING!

    I certainly don’t see it and honestly feel that if DM can’t take the heat his own play inspired then he’s not the stud everyone makes him out to be. He’d have to be awful soft for that to make him wilt like a lily.

    What’s more likely is he responds with fire to this the same way he did to his benching in Philly. I think that’s what the coaches were going for. If he caves and gives up then it was still the right move because they find out now before they extend the guy.

    For the life of me I can’t see why anyone who is even the slightest bit old school thinks this was anything but a good move by Shanahan. You play like crap and you get benched period…sounds like equal opportunity coaching not equal opportunity a-holishness. Maybe one goes with the other.

  6. McNabb has always been out of shape…I have heart not one mention of when he pretty much threw up during the tail end of the Super Bowl back in 2005. Looked like he was about to pass out.

  7. I agree. to boot, he is playin behind a terrible line, no running game and absolutely no weapons on the outside.

  8. I lost complete respect for Feinstein after his comments. He’s has had it in for Dan Snyder and the Redskin’s organization for years IMO. It’s egregious for him to bring race into this.

  9. Your thoughts are dead on Florio. It’s a damn shame though that a coach mishandling a situation with a player can be misconstrued as racist. That’s simply a commentary on how far our society has NOT come. Anyone who doubts that needs to look no farther than Tony Dungy’s reaction. Shanahan wanted McNabb and now is disappointed with his performance. Race is nowhere near the issue and it’s borderline ridiculous to entertain the possibility. I loved Donovan during his time in Philly but he’s showing now how smart Andy Reid is because both Philly QB’s are outperforming him…the black one and the white one.

  10. McNabb sucks but so does Shanny. What a pair. McNabb’s D and coach made him look good while Alex Gibbs’ nearly illegal-new to the NFL cut blocking got Shanny to his Bowls.

  11. That’s lame… He’s not a racist. He had issues with John Elway too. If anything, he clashes with his QB’s, not black people.

  12. I love this new site! You post an intelligent, thought out post and they delete it in five minutes!
    Great job guys!
    Delete this one in four minutes!

  13. Shanahan loves to win. I’ve witnessed Brett Favre being benched when they were getting blown out by the Minnesota Vikings in 1998. I’ve witnessed Steve Young getting benched (Shanahan offensive coordinator) while they were getting blown out by the Eagles.
    You got eight more games, McNabb wasn’t moving the ball and the offensive line wasn’t protecting him. McNabb got benched. He left the game with no major injury. He wasn’t going to move the ball because he had no time to move the ball.
    Shanahan isn’t racist. Like Andy Reid took a chance on Michael Vick, people forget that Shanahan drafted Marice Clarett.
    We don’t need anymore Glenn Becks, Rush Limbaughs, Jessie Jacksons, or Al Sharptons. Them and their race baiting tactics are bad for the United States and this shouldn’t be an issue.

  14. Is it possible that McNabb just isn’t very bright? I know he’s very well spoken, but don’t forget, he did score a 14 on his Wonderlic

  15. “If Shanahan had a bias against African-American quarterbacks, he wouldn’t have traded for McNabb. ”

    Ding! Ding! Ding! We have a winner.

  16. I don’t understand … any other position in football the race card would not be brought up … only the QB position. Why is that????

  17. So Feinstein says there is racial coding going on here by the fact that Shanhan implied McNabb was stupid and fat.

    Sounds like Feinstein is the one guilty of stereotyping and race-baiting.

  18. Florios thong underwear says:
    Nov 12, 2010 11:48 PM
    I love this new site! You post an intelligent, thought out post and they delete it in five minutes!
    Great job guys!
    Delete this one in four minutes!
    No kidding we can’t offend anyone … no freedom of speech?

  19. Why is it that anytime McNabb screws up, he never takes the heat? If he gets benched for horrible play, its the coaches fault for bad explanations. If he gets called out by another player for being ridiculously out of shape, it is the players fault for being disruptive. Could it not be that he is horribly overrated and his success was the product of the tremendous defense and throwing nothing but screens or bombs? Hell, lots of guys can chuck it up there, and any idiot can throw a screen. Have you ever seen McNabb throw a mid-ranged pass with any accuracy? I thought not. Every Qb that filled in for him in Philly did just as well if not better. Apparently they just had 2-3 “probowl” qbs on their roster every single year.

  20. Blah.Blah.Blah. I am sick and tired of everything being about race. This is a sports/football site and I am willing to bet that everyone could care less about race and only cares about stats. Anyone who plays the race card is weak.

  21. this guy Feinstein sounds like a f*&$ing idiot. Typical Obama syndrome, anyone who criticizes or calls anyone black into question is immediately deemed a racist.
    Sometimes the truth hurts too much and people just can’t accept it, like Feinstein.

  22. Racists… What a joke racists are. Do they not realize we are one race? We can all breed with one another.. Colour means nothing, hell no one is the exact same pigment as the next, morons!

  23. When will the small people of the world realize that people under thirty do NOT CARE ABOUT RACE…. WE DO NOT CARE… people use race as a way to make money… its not cool anymore.. please stop.

    I normally agree with Florio, he seems like an intelligent dude, but this is not right… please,, do not give fuel to a fire that shouldnt be started… its irrelevent to most and to those who it is relevent, not bringing it up is best…

    Anyone who has ever watched a eagles or skins football game can tell Mcnabb is terrible.. he launches deep sideline balls at the worst of moments, and has NEVER been reliable in the clutch. The Shanahans are just not afraid to admit that.

    Remember Kids, McNabb has only thrown for over 25 touchdowns once in his whole Career… and that was with TO. (Hall of Fame T.O.) who was the real cancer… the guy who still produces, but speaks his mind… or the guy who doesnt produce, and blames it on being black.

  24. By the way… “smart” people like Fienstein create clever ways to sells news papers… because that is their job… Hot button topic in one of the most racially sensitive places on earth… Big newspaper sales. I know you realized this Mike. Come on dude.

  25. Feinstein should be fired for race-baiting in order to sell his crappy stories. It’s no surprise he works for CNN, it’s less of a surprise that he’s Jewish (unless he’s Reverend AL or Jesse), I’m going to go out on a limb here and say he’s probably a Democrat.

    So let everybody get this straight… If a black man happens to not particularly smart, he’s lazy, and out of shape… nobody can tell him he is any of the three because it is “racism”?

    I’m sorry, but I was not aware that black people had the copyright on being unintelligent, lazy, and out of shape…. if there’s any racism going on here, it is Feinstein who apparently hears those words and automatically links them to black people.

    I wonder if, according to Feinstein’s definition, Tony Siragusa ever knew he was black?

  26. when a coach looks at film , if he has any prejudice – even the normal I like this guy because i know him – that interferes with putting the best team on the field, that interferes with winning.
    A coach that makes assumptions based on anything that is nonsense, like racial stereotypes applied to individuals, doesn’t have a chance in hell of succeeding.

  27. Mike Shanahan is an insecure little martinet who can only elevate his sense of well being by trying to dismiss others as being unworthy. He’s pathetic and he and Dan Snyder deserve each other. Grow up, Mikey.

  28. Shanny to Dallas next year…what will Feinstein say when he benches Tony Romo? That Shanahan is “anti-Italian american?”

  29. Feinstein is a fire starter. Thows a match and walks away. He hates the skins and always has.
    What a bunch of bull crap he writes and barfs out of his mouth.

  30. McNabb would be fat, stupid and lazy in any colour. Highly overrated, accomplished less with more than almost any modern QB. Had more than enough talent to win multiple Super Bowls.

    Career passing rating of 85.9. You know who else has a career rating of 85.9? David Garrard. Yeah. David Garrard. Anyone consider him to be in any good? Playoff rating of 80.0. In the last game of each playoff year he has played he has thrown for 9 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. He didn’t allegedly throw up in the Super Bowl. He did throw up. He has been terrible under pressure.

    The irony of it all? Limbaugh was right.

  31. “Shanahan should have simply told the truth from the get go.”

    Pretty funny Florio. Did you forget that you were referring to an NFL coach? Especially Shanahan. Tell the truth, good one. LMAO.

  32. The race card….really? Can you imagine what would have happened if Rush Limbaugh actually bought the Rams? Shanahan is just a equal oppurtinity ahole….just ask Jake Plummer.

  33. @geniusesq – great comment – I agree

    However, this is also a good strategy by Shanahan – Donovan will play out of his mind this week. It is his motivation. Why do you think that he held on to the draft day booing for 13 years? He has no internal motivation, so he hangs on to any perceived slight (some real, some not) for motivation.

  34. Probably not racism, but then again, what was the racial makeup of the players Shanahan has gotten ‘upset’ with and ridden?

    In Washington they are all black…

  35. Pretty funny. The Redskins organization is imploding …again…

    The new Coach and OC trade for an aging QB who is in his contract year, then, halfway through the season they decide they don’t like him, bench him, provide conflicting stories about why they benched him which include that he’s stupid, injured, and out of shape, ….

    then the GM starts floating stories about how they are accelerating the effort to sign the QB to a long term contract ..

    What’s wrong with this picture? If the HC and OC don’t like the guy and have no respect for him as a QB why on earth are the Redskins going to shell out big bucks to sign him to a 3-4 year contract?

  36. Then i guess that makes coach Singeltary a racist for benching Alex Smith… from now only we’ll have to make it a rule that you can only bench people of the same race as the coach.

  37. Why does the media continue to protect McNabb, bottom line McNabb has been benched by 2 coaches who have won 2 super bowls with a truly HOF QB and gotten to another super bowl with the QB in question, not to mention numerous championship game appearances and have career winning percentages of 596 and 617 respectively…I think they know a little something about high level QB play and when and when they are not getting it.
    On another note where are the apologies from the media to Andy Reid and the Eagles organization for how they bashed Reid and the Eagles organization for trading McNabb in the first place, whose getting the last laugh now!

  38. So you’re saying Shannahan is a white head coach who is very desirous of having Donovan McNabb doing well?

  39. McNabb was traded for, because he’s made several playoff appearances. He was benched because he’s on pace to NOT make another one of those appearances, this year.

    The Redskins organization has been more than open to giving minorities leadership roles, over the years.

    It was a poor, selfish, unfounded, non-researched, off topic and overblown article.

    It was effective, however, in gaining attention…and that’s about it.

  40. Feinstein has no credibility on racial issues.

    Anybody remember his disgusting race-bating during the Duke lacrosse fiasco?

  41. The bottom line is that McNabb is not as good as his supporters try to make him out to be. He is a decent QB who plays fairly well with a lead. He does not have many wins when he has had to lead the team to victory in the 4th qtr. He has made some great plays with his legs and with his arm strength, but he has also bounced countless balls in front of his receivers. The fact that McNabb is black has absolutely no relevance, other than to elicit emotional responses from people who want to believe race has a role in everything negative that effects a prominant black player.

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