Donovan, Donovan, Donovan, what were you thinking?
We gave Donovan McNabb’s prediction of Robert Griffin III’s failure at the hands of Coach Shanahan short shrift last week because that was all the attention it deserved. I can’t help but wonder why he would say such a thing. Yes, it was sour grapes, but I believe the man is inexperienced at expressing anger. He does it so poorly.
How do I know? I see elements of my own character in McNabb and so felt a growing empathy with him as he went through his troubles with Mike Shanahan in 2010.
We both arise from a black, middle-class, two-parent home. We both graduated from Catholic high schools. More than that, we both display a passive-aggressive tendency to suck up slights and anger and “take the high road.”
In my day, there were issues about anger displays by black guys with career aspirations. I won’t go so far to apply the same to McNabb, but our bourgeois backgrounds predisposes us to self-control, especially when it comes to anger and, um, sex. In the world of men, that’s not helpful sometimes.
Every now and then, anger escapes. Everyone does it, but passive-aggressive types don’t express it as often, so we are not as good channeling anger for a better outcome, like coaches.
The harm is in failing to express justifiable anger when it is both appropriate and timely. Colleagues draw the wrong conclusions when you suck it up. They see the passive and conclude (wrongly) that you are complacent, unmotivated or in over your head. I paid a price for that in my career. So did Donovavn.
There is a reason why Machiavelli told his prince that it is better to be feared than loved. You don’t want to be feared to the point of hatred. In the competitive world of politics and sports, you do want your colleagues to fret about pissing you off.
The Eagles locker room was not divided for the reasons the media portrayed in Terrell Owens’ tiff with the team and McNabb. Terrible Owens is the poster child of inappropriately expressed anger, but more Eagles players identified with his background than McNabb’s. T.O. had his backers. Donovan’s high road approach opened him to questions about leadership.
McNabb did not list himself in his litany of Shanahan failures. He should have. He should have spoken up about it during his time in Washington. Plenty of fans, Hog Heaven among them, wanted to hear McNabb’s side when Shanahan spewed tripe about “conditioning.”
McNabb inappropriately took the high road and left it to his agent to speak up for him. Shanahan wasn’t worried about insulting or losing McNabb who escaped to the Vikings and opened his 2011 campaign with a 39 yard passing performance against San Diego. He was benched for Christian Ponder before the season ended. Ponder wasn’t starter-ready and probably would not have been ready until late this year.
When you’ve been benched three times in two seasons for the likes of Ponder and Rex Grossman, you just look silly complaining about quarterback fails.
The best place for McNabb in 2011 was Washington. If he had it out with Shanahan, man-to-man, as Joe Theismann did with Joe Gibbs decades ago, McNabb might have found better success here. McNabb, Shanahan and the Redskins would have been better for it. McNabb’s outburst showed that his justifiable anger has yet to reach a satisfying conclusion.
McNabb was a better quarterback than Grossman, if only slightly so. The Redskins would have finished 2011 around .500, which at best would have earned them division third place.
Washington would have be in the same place if McNabb worked out perfectly — with the need to move up for RG3 or Andrew Luck now. Thus, the fallout of the McNabb fiasco is complete.
McNabb’s target, Mike Shanahan, said he would take the high road and let the stats speak for themselves.
Sounds passive-aggressive to me.