If there's one thing Mike Shanahan has proven in his first season as coach of the Washington Redskins, it's that stars have no special standing.
First, there was defensive lineman Albert Haynesworth, who never got off on the right foot with Shanahan and is currently suspended for the remainder of the season. Now Shanahan's relationship with quarterback Donovan McNabb has taken a similar turn the past several weeks and appears to have reached an abrupt end.
In rapid-fire sequence Friday, there were reports, since confirmed, that McNabb would be replaced by backup Rex Grossman this Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys; then a statement from McNabb's agent, Fletcher N. Smith, that the move by Shanny was "beyond disrespectful"; then a tweet by Rich Campbell of the Fredricksburg Free Lance-Star that McNabb had been dropped to No. 3 quarterback for the rest of the season; and finally, McNabb's statement, issued through his publicist, that he isn't too happy with the decision.
"I respect Mike's decision as a head coach," McNabb said, "but I strongly disagree with it."
No doubt. Even worse, McNabb has no assurances about 2011.
"I also told him," Shanahan said, "that I cannot guarantee him that he will be back next year."
The truth is that McNabb, 34, has struggled most of the season, fashioning a 77.1 passer rating with 15 interceptions. The Redskins had high hopes when they traded for McNabb in April but are 5-8.
"Disrespectful is probably not strong enough of a word," Fletcher told the Washington Post. "Donovan has handled himself with nothing but class, not just in Washington but as an ambassador for the league. To treat him this way ... it's beyond disrespectful."
With the ‘Skins out of the playoffs, Shanahan said the move was intended to find out what his quarterback options are for the future.
"I've got to find where Rex Grossman is, where John Beck is," he said. "I want a chance to evaluate these guys. I told Donovan that there's nothing he could do in the three games that would influence me over what he's done over the last 13 games. I said, ‘I'm not sure what I'm going to do in the college draft, if we're able to get the top quarterback in the draft, if there was a young Donovan McNabb or maybe a Sam Bradford, someone like that.' There's a lot of possibilities."
A lot of possibilities for the Redskins. But not for McNabb.