Vikings quarterback Donovan McNabb called reports that he is showing up late for meetings "ridiculous."
NFL.com's Michael Lombardi, a former NFL front-office executive, wrote on Sunday that the Vikings should have paid heed to the warning signs about McNabb's work ethic from his 2010 season with the Washington Redskins.
"Signing McNabb after his horrible year in Washington, ignoring the horror stories about his lack of preparation for the game, was their first mistake. (Do you really want a young rookie to be tutored and mentored by a player who is not fully committed to preparation?)," Lombardi wrote. "McNabb is at a point in his career that he does not seem to want to put in the time, willing to show up late for meetings and practice, and expects to just play well. He failed to really grasp the offense in Minnesota (as he did in Washington), having trouble spitting the plays out quickly – which meant the play sheet on his arm got bigger and bigger."
McNabb, who saw those comments and heard about them from others before being asked about them Monday, took issue with Lombardi's report.
"I'm in here, one of the first guys in the building and the last to leave. For any of that to come out is ridiculous," McNabb said, telling reporters to talk with Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier, offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave or quarterbacks coach Craig Johnson about his work ethic. "They'll tell you I haven't missed a practice. I haven't missed a meeting; one of the first in the building, one of the last to leave, just being on top of being ready for the game. You know, it's just another challenge throughout my career of, you hear sources. I would challenge those sources to come out and make it public because it's definitely not true."
Johnson, the quarterbacks coach, last week made sure to praise the way McNabb handled the demotion to backup QB after Frazier named rookie Christian Ponder the starter, saying McNabb was a true pro and helping Ponder.
But the issue from Lombardi's report is McNabb's punctuality and work ethic. While in Washington last year, Redskins coach Mike Shanahan questioned McNabb's conditioning and his ability to run the two-minute offense, and McNabb has tried repeatedly tried to say that there aren't similarities between his struggles this year in Minnesota and his benching last year in Washington.
"Really, it's just the tip of the iceberg. Donovan hasn't really been putting the time in to be the great player. What happened in Washington, the lack of work habits in Washington, has now gone into Minnesota," Lombardi said on NFL Network.
Lombardi said Musgrave, who was a quarterback under Shanahan with the Denver Broncos, knew what Shanahan's feelings on McNabb were and therefore the Vikings knew what they were getting when they traded for him at the end of July. Musgrave was also the quarterbacks coach in Washington in 2005.
"What I was told by people in the Viking organization was that he's the last one in the building, he's the first one gone, he's not willing to put the time in, late for meetings, late for practice. So they just basically have thrown up their hands and said we need to move on because ultimately that's not what we want in a quarterback," Lombardi said.
McNabb has been at practice at the start of the media's access period every day, but it's unclear if he has been late to any team meetings.
What is clear is his performance on the field, and Frazier said last week that the Vikings didn't make the move to Ponder with an eye toward the future. Instead, Frazier repeatedly maintained that Ponder gave the Vikings the best chance to win against the Green Bay Packers.
"The proof is in the pudding because the eye in the sky, the game film, does not lie," NFL Network analyst Warren Sapp said about McNabb, "and he looks like an unprepared quarterback out there on Sunday."
Lombardi said McNabb's lack of commitment was seen by older players, who knew a move had to be made.
"I prepare myself and try to do what the coaches ask me to do," McNabb said Monday. "… While I was out there (I was) doing what they wanted me to do and what they expected of me. It's just out of character for me. It's really ridiculous."
"… People who don't know, they hear from what's been reported or what so-called sources say and they make their own assumptions. But in the actual fact, Leslie has made it known to you. He's addressed it to you, and other coaches see I'm here and preparing. And the players – the ones who really I care about the most is the players in here – they see the preparation, me working with the offensive line after meetings and trying to get ready for game day. That's what really matters."
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.
McNabb refutes report questioning work ethic
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