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Shanahan, McNabb and race

Proceed at risk. At great, great risk.

But people have been saying it, and I usually write down what people say in this spot. The fact is, if you bench a black quarterback in favor of a white quarterback and suggest immediately after the benching that it was because the black quarterback "hasn't been used to that terminology," some people will raise the racial issue, as evidenced below.

David Aldridge, ESPN 980: "You can say whatever you want about Donovan McNabb. You can say he underthrows receivers, you can say he doesn't make great decisions with the ball, you can say he threw a terrible interception with four minutes to go in the game yesterday. All of that's true. You cannot say Donovan McNabb is not a leader, you cannot say Donovan McNabb does not have the universal respect of everybody, not only in that locker room, but in every locker room in the National Football League....If he wasn't smart enough to run your two-minute offense with two minutes to go in the fourth quarter, why is he on the field with two minutes to go in the first half, when he drove you down the field and got you a field goal? Why has he been on the field for seven weeks as your starting quarterback in the two-minute offense, if he's not smart enough to understand the terminology of your two-minute offense? You are balancing on the edge of a knife right now if you're Mike Shanahan, in this city. You better be careful."

Michael Wilbon, Washington Post: "Indications are now that the Shanahans, father and son, don't much like the way McNabb prepares for games. Mike's assertion makes it sound like McNabb is some dummy, an ominous characterization he'd better be careful about, lest he run into some cultural trouble in greater Washington, D.C."

John Thompson II, ESPN 980: "Now I've heard people interject the racial aspect into it, and a lot of folks will jump up and say well here we go again. First of all, the reason they do it is it may not be applicable to this situation - and quite frankly I am a racially conscious person and I never thought of it from a racial perspective, even in listening to [Shanahan] in the press conference - but when I reflected on it, I said does this mean black men can't think again? Because that's how we have been treated, particularly in that position in the NFL. And I'm sure that coach in no way meant that. I'm sure that he didn't mean that under any circumstances. But it's normal for us who have been treated that way to reflect on it....

"And so because of what has happened to us historically and how coach explained that Donovan couldn't pick up the plays, we're saying ok, now, what does this mean? Does this mean that the boy that he put in was smarter than him?....You reflect on what has happened to you. It may not even be justifiable, but you still say well that's a position for years our boys couldn't play because people said they weren't smart enough to play it. Now all these kinds of arguments are interjected into this thing, and I'm gonna tell you the truth, neither one of them deserve, Shanahan nor does McNabb deserve it, but I'm gonna tell you, they're in it now....

"This caused something to go deeper, back into those miserable days of yesteryear. That's what this did, and you can tell by the callers. I've heard shows, I've listened to people, and I've said oh my God, not again. Not all this drama and all this stuff about who likes who and why and whether it's because I'm white or black, and all that other stuff that comes into it, and there's a reason why it comes into it. For people to jump up and say, no, you can't say it - you can say it. It's not valid, but you created it again....

"Nobody is saying that Coach Shanahan is a racist, at least I'm not and Doc [Walker's] not. But I am saying that that how he said that makes us reflect on what has been said in the past, particularly when you're talking about one of our best. That boy is special to us, because he plays that position well, because people have not let us play that for a long time. So when you say that about one of our best, then it's a natural thing for these folks who are reflecting on that and saying well what is he saying. That's not unusual, folks, for somebody to do that, when for hundreds of years that has been used against you. Coach probably never even reflected on it, never even thought it that way."

(See also: Jason Whitlock, who writes that "I'm not accusing Shanahan of bigotry. I'm not playing the race card. I'm saying that Shanahan's attack on McNabb is personal, intended to injure McNabb's reputation and unwittingly pandering to racial stereotypes.")

By Dan Steinberg  | November 2, 2010; 3:29 PM ET
Categories:  Redskins  
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Next: Cerrato says McNabb benching "dumbfounded" him

Comments

Make it stop. Please.

Posted by: MylesMonroe | November 2, 2010 3:40 PM | Report abuse

The irony is that Shanahan's intelligence should be in question.

Posted by: Aerowaz | November 2, 2010 3:42 PM | Report abuse

Vinny Cerrato was white and he turned out to be dumber than anyone could have imagined.

Considering how long he was employed with the team, I don't think we can play the race card with this organization.

Posted by: Scoonie97 | November 2, 2010 3:43 PM | Report abuse

From the time Shanahan traded two high draft picks for McNabb I knew he was a racist.

Posted by: MylesMonroe | November 2, 2010 3:45 PM | Report abuse

Did anybody else read John Thompson's quote in their head using his voice?

Posted by: dpkennedy | November 2, 2010 3:48 PM | Report abuse

John Thompson, Michael Wilbon, David Aldridge etc should all be ashamed of themselves for bringing race into this. If race had nothing to do with Shanahan's decision, then why bring it up? Donovan McNabb should not be special to you because of his skin color. That is an appalling statement. It is not 1960, it's 2010. We have a black president, black Supreme Court justice, have had black Secretaries of State, black governors, senators, congressmen, and yes, plenty of black quarterbacks.

It's sad that a person's skin color should make them more "special" to you because of the way things were 40, 50 years ago. I find it sad and quite ironic that these men with their million dollar gigs covering sports for a living still sit around with a racial victim mentality.

You are not a victim, Wilbon. Please stop acting like one.

Posted by: Barno1 | November 2, 2010 3:49 PM | Report abuse

This might be the best thing that happened to Shanahan. He doesn't look at all irrational compared to Wilbon and company.

Posted by: MylesMonroe | November 2, 2010 3:51 PM | Report abuse

Well, it's only racist in the sense that Shanny dislikes any one of a different skin color than him. So it's pretty much Shanahan, orange crayon & sweet potatoes against the world.

Posted by: tha_prophet | November 2, 2010 3:52 PM | Report abuse

Yes, the race baiters like Thompson and Wilbon are out in full force. Never mind that Shanahan brought McNabb here in the first place. Never mind that the Redskins have had FOUR black starting QBs (Williams, Banks, Campbell, McNabb) and by now a white coach ought to be able to make personnel moves involving black players without it being suggested that he's a bigot. I trust that there is a special place in hell reserved for those who engage in race baiting like this.

Posted by: poguesmahone | November 2, 2010 3:53 PM | Report abuse

This reminds me that Jason Whitlock has a word for people that make these comments: Sharptonite (for racial stupidity and hypocrisy)

Posted by: dpkennedy | November 2, 2010 3:57 PM | Report abuse

Well, it's only racist in the sense that Shanny dislikes any one of a different skin color than him. So it's pretty much Shanahan, orange crayon & sweet potatoes against the world.
Posted by: tha_prophet | November 2, 2010 3:52 PM

And oompa-loompas.

Posted by: GaryClark_84 | November 2, 2010 4:02 PM | Report abuse

What's racist is assuming "stupid" is a code word for "black".

Posted by: julioscissors | November 2, 2010 4:08 PM | Report abuse

This doesn't surprise me - Wilbon makes EVERYTHING about race. He is the problem, not the ambassador toward a solution.

Posted by: Scofield | November 2, 2010 4:09 PM | Report abuse

Uhhh, JaMarcus Russell is black....

Oh, and julioscissors nailed it. If it was possible to "bump" comments on this post I would move yours right to the top, sir (or mam).

Posted by: mm_silverspring | November 2, 2010 4:13 PM | Report abuse

Come on Steinberg, why don't you get a quote from Rush? You've already jumped the shark 10 times over with this.

Posted by: LouLewis | November 2, 2010 4:17 PM | Report abuse

What's racist is assuming "stupid" is a code word for "black".

Posted by: julioscissors | November 2, 2010 4:08 PM | Report abuse

Amen. I thought McNabb wasn't the sharpest tool in the shed when he admitted he didn't know you could tie in an NFL overtime (this was after playing about a decade in the league). Any casual fan of football knew that rule, how did McNabb not? You can call McNabb a dummy without it having anything to do with his skin color.

Posted by: Barno1 | November 2, 2010 4:18 PM | Report abuse

I challenge anyone to find a dumber pro QB (past or present) than Ryan Leaf.

Posted by: Aerowaz | November 2, 2010 4:22 PM | Report abuse

(Deep drawling bass) Ah-Yahhh. Ahh definitely read the ahhhticle in mahh head in Coach T's voice.

How could you not?

Posted by: yourbreakingmyballsjim | November 2, 2010 4:28 PM | Report abuse

Barno, I think it is great that you have educated John Thompson on how he should think and feel as a black man who has walked this earth for almost 70 years. I'm sure he appreciates it.

Posted by: disgruntledfan | November 2, 2010 4:33 PM | Report abuse

I'm convinced ESPN 980 is not a profit seeking entity.

What radio show in history has had its host call in the whole show via phone, for weeks on end? Hours and hours of phone-to-phone conversations with callers and guests (one of them in coach's tough-to-understand-anyway voice), it's unbearable-- and it's not exactly prime listening even on it's best days. Why would anyone listen to this? What is going on there?

My only explanation is they are trying to get people to listen to sister station 570.

Posted by: kidbrosweets | November 2, 2010 4:51 PM | Report abuse

Shanahan is conflicted. On the one hand he hates McNabb because he's a black man. On the other hand he loves McNabb because he's an Orangeman.

Posted by: bryc3 | November 2, 2010 4:54 PM | Report abuse

It never ceases to amaze me how quick some very successful black men are to play the victim card. You know, ineffective quarterbacks often get benched, whether they are black or white, by both white and black head coaches. How is it that you can come right out and say that someone is more important to you because they are black? That is just as racist as some Georgia 'cracker' white racist saying that he wants the white boy to play ahead of those colored boys. These black commentators need to carefully reflect on where we have come in this country, and how we proceed from here. I would submit that our path should NOT include continued racial consciousness, to use Thompson's phrase. That is only going to make the old thinking of the past persist, and end up holding blacks back, not advance them further.

Posted by: pcalvert | November 2, 2010 5:01 PM | Report abuse

Did anybody else read John Thompson's quote in their head using his voice?

Posted by: dpkennedy

--------------

I did -- but I still couldn't make any sense of it.

Posted by: bethesdaguy | November 2, 2010 5:13 PM | Report abuse

Boy? Who's he calling Boy? #5 be a straight up Man. Boy? what's up with that?

Posted by: TheDubb | November 2, 2010 5:44 PM | Report abuse

Barno, I think it is great that you have educated John Thompson on how he should think and feel as a black man who has walked this earth for almost 70 years. I'm sure he appreciates it.

Posted by: disgruntledfan | November 2, 2010 4:33 PM | Report abuse

That made zero sense. So because he is 70 years old, he is permitted to be a racist? He can think black qbs are more special because he is a 70 year old black man? I take it you are not a lawyer. That is about as losing an argument as I have ever heard.

My point is not exclusive to a 70 year old black man or any man for that matter: the skin color of a quarterback should be irrelevant. Whether you are 15 or 35 or 70.

Posted by: Barno1 | November 2, 2010 5:50 PM | Report abuse

Of course the issue lurks behind anything concerning a black quarterback in this town. Duh.

Also: what disgruntledfan said.

Also: TheDubb, he was calling Rex Grossman "boy." I feel comfortable that I'm leaving race entirely out of it when I say That Shoe Fits.

Posted by: Landru | November 2, 2010 5:50 PM | Report abuse

I didn't realize Al Sharpton is being channeled thru Aldridge, and JT. I always knew this about Wilbon though. No surprises there.

Just about the dumbest collection of comments I've read in a long time. Not being able to run a particular 2 min offense is now symptomatic of being stupid in general. Which apparently equates to being black.

If that itself isn't racist I don't know what is.

Posted by: cstanton1 | November 2, 2010 6:35 PM | Report abuse

Its pretty disgusting when the race card ges played by prominent black personalities in an effort to "guilt" someone into doing or not doing something. Shanahan should bench McNabb for the rest of the yr now. Just to shove in their face.

Posted by: cstanton1 | November 2, 2010 6:50 PM | Report abuse

Oh come the f*** on. Ridiculous...

Posted by: rconner9 | November 2, 2010 7:43 PM | Report abuse

Tired of every time a black QB plys like dog poo and get benched every "brother" out there wants to play the race card. Bottom line McNabb has been awful so far but Rex is GROSS MAN and it was a DUMB decision. Race has nothing to do with it. Get over it "Brothers"! Oh, and Go McNabb And Go SKINS!!!

Posted by: cayes56 | November 2, 2010 8:02 PM | Report abuse

What a bunch of crap it is to make a racial issue out of a coach decision to bench a QB who just happened to be black. The only people making it a racial issue are the three black morons making it a racial issue. And NOT!!!! They are not a reflection on the black race, they are the just the dumb jerks making problems.

Posted by: hock1 | November 2, 2010 8:57 PM | Report abuse

I'd be interested to see what the race is of EVERYONE who commented on this...I think Coach Thompson said it clearly that he doesn't think Shanahan is a racist, but rather he has created a situation where people will look at it as a racial issue! Even though I believe some of you are based on the comments...but its just the internet so I'm sure some of you will probably berate me and post all kinds of non-sense that you would never say in person to me or another self-respecting, educated black man!

Posted by: primetone | November 2, 2010 9:36 PM | Report abuse

I have always hated the term “pulling the race card” because, to me, it implies that racism is no longer a problem in this country. I’m a firm believer in personal responsibility and I’m not naïve enough to think there aren’t those who want to blame racism for their own problems, which hurts those who really are victimized by it. Having said that, while I don’t think that race is an issue here – I think it’s more to do with McNabb and the younger Shanahan not getting along (frankly, I’m not sure Kyle knows what he’s doing and his dad is just blind to it) – given pro football’s history of being slow to accept blacks as being smart enough play quarterback, I can see where some might reach the conclusion of race being involved in McNabb’s benching. To quote what someone over at Extremeskins.com said this morning, “There are plenty of racism issues in the world that the general public wants to ignore because people want to believe that racism died with the Civil Rights movement and they're completely and totally unaware of the institutional racism that occurs every day in our society. They aren't aware of how segregated this country is, and think that because there are laws in place that are supposed to protect against discrimination that it doesn't happen.”

Posted by: stwasm | November 3, 2010 8:39 AM | Report abuse

I think Coach Shanahan would have been better served putting in some better offensive lineman than replacing the guy who was being punished because of the former's incompetence.

Posted by: stwasm | November 3, 2010 8:53 AM | Report abuse

Barno, I think it is great that you have educated John Thompson on how he should think and feel as a black man who has walked this earth for almost 70 years. I'm sure he appreciates it.

Posted by: disgruntledfan | November 2, 2010 4:33 PM | Report abuse

That made zero sense. So because he is 70 years old, he is permitted to be a racist? He can think black qbs are more special because he is a 70 year old black man? I take it you are not a lawyer. That is about as losing an argument as I have ever heard.

My point is not exclusive to a 70 year old black man or any man for that matter: the skin color of a quarterback should be irrelevant. Whether you are 15 or 35 or 70.

Posted by: Barno1 | November 2, 2010 5:50 PM | Report abuse


Barno, I preface this by saying that I don't think race is an issue here. First, John Thompson never said race caused McNabb's benching. He merely said that, given pro football's history of being slow to embrace blacks as quarterbacks because of the mistaken belief they weren't smart enough to do so, it could lead some to believe race was a factor. Coach Shanahan's comments about him not grasping the two-minute office and his changing his story didn't help that, either. As a black man who lived at a time when this country was less-than-hospitable to blacks, Coach Thompson has seen racism and experienced it. That's something you just don't forget. Just because slavery is over and Jim Crow laws are off the books doesn't mean racism doesn't exist anymore. Black president, black Supreme Court justices, and black quarterbacks notwithstanding, all you need to do is look at the racial disparities in education, employment, criminal justice, and housing, among other categories to see the ripple effects of those discriminatory laws. Plus, if racism was over, you wouldn't still have white supremacist groups operating in the country. Do many blacks blame racism instead of taking responsibility? Yes. But, it's also naive to think that, even though I don't believe it's the case in this situation, racism in America is over.

Posted by: stwasm | November 3, 2010 9:14 AM | Report abuse

I am black. I am also a football fan. As a football fan, it bothered me that McNabb was benched with two minutes to go. As a black man, the fact that he was benched in itself didn't bother me at all. But as a football fan, I thought that decision (along with the incredibly stupid decisions to go for it on 4th and 10 and to start the game with only two tailbacks dressed) lost the game.

As a black person, I was bothered by the implication that McNabb wasn't able to grasp "terminology." I don't think that Shanahan is a racist. I don't go around just assuming people are racist in general. But I did think the press conference was handled in an extremely clumsy manner.

Now - as for "cayes56," who wrote that us "brothers" get upset whenever a black quarterback is benched for a white quarterback - I would suggest that this person needs to calm down and stop generalizing as well. Misperception of racial issues works in both directions, you know. When back in 2007, Todd Collins came in for an injured Jason Campbell and led us to the playoffs, I could have been happy to never see Jason Campbell again. Campbell wasn't benched in that situation, but he should have been. I want whoever the best player is, whatever the person's skin color is, to be on the field. And most football fans, regardless of their skin color, feel the same way.

So, don't confuse the issue. We can agree or disagree about football decisions as football fans. But I think that Shanahan's initial comments after the game were disrespectful, period, and I don't think he handled it very well at all. If that makes me a race baiter or a racist, I'll have to talk it over with my Pastor, my brother-in-law or my sister-in law, all of whom are white. They'll be quite disappointed in me.

Stop it, everybody!

Posted by: CommonSenseDude | November 3, 2010 1:15 PM | Report abuse

"Just because slavery is over and Jim Crow laws are off the books doesn't mean racism doesn't exist anymore...Plus, if racism was over, you wouldn't still have white supremacist groups operating in the country. Do many blacks blame racism instead of taking responsibility? Yes. But, it's also naive to think that, even though I don't believe it's the case in this situation, racism in America is over."

Straw man. There isn't a single person alive in this country who believes racism doesn't exist any more. Not one. Of course it still exists and always will. But to ignore the fact that there has been enormous progress in race relations in this country in the last several decades is not only foolish, it is counter-productive.

"Black president, black Supreme Court justices, and black quarterbacks notwithstanding, all you need to do is look at the racial disparities in education, employment, criminal justice, and housing, among other categories to see the ripple effects of those discriminatory laws."

What discriminatory laws? The biggest reason for "racial disparities in education, employment, criminal justice, and housing" is no longer racism. No, the biggest reason for the disparities is that 7 out of 10 black children grow up without fathers. While the black community and its leaders have ignored this key issue, it has continued to get worse and worse. It is now the single biggest domestic problem facing this country and has been for many years. If you solve this problem, you fix many of the disparities you see in society today.

But until the black community even addresses this issue, these problems will continue.

Posted by: Barno1 | November 3, 2010 1:19 PM | Report abuse

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