Donovan McNabb is no longer a relevant force on the field for the Vikings, having been relegated to clipboard duty by Leslie Frazier, but the former starter seems bound and determined to remain relevant in the media even if it means creating the perception that he is not a team player. Maybe this is all part of Donovan’s larger plan to land a post-football job as a talking head…or maybe the guy just doesn’t know how to shut up. Either way, Donovan keeps talking, and people keep ripping him for what he says.
Donovan’s latest excursion down Controversial Statement Lane is set to be aired Sunday as part of NFL Network’s game day coverage, but PFT already has the goods. In his interview, Donovan is asked by Andrea Kremer if he believes he should still be the starter in Minnesota and Donovan replies, “Absolutely.”
And then to drive home the point says, “Absolutely.”
Did he make it clear enough? Donovan thinks he should still be starting in Minnesota. Even though Donovan went 1-5 as the starter. Even though his stats were bad. And even though Christian Ponder is obviously ready to play now and certainly could use the on-field experience as he prepares himself to be the Vikings’ quarterback for next year and beyond.
McNabb went on, “Well, I mean, everyone focuses on my position. We should be sitting here, I’ll be honest, at about what, 4-3, 5-2, or whatever? We had games that we should have won, but we just didn’t. Now is it the quarterback position?”
Here McNabb suggests that he’s getting too much blame for the Vikings’ failures. And you know what? I agree with him. He was a large part of why the Vikings lost those games, several in stunning meltdown fashion, but he wasn’t the only culprit. Those were total team breakdowns, and so far he’s the only high-profile player besides Bernard Berrian who’s been demoted or otherwise jettisoned as a consequence of those failures.
There are some who see McNabb’s words not simply as a statement of self-defense but an act of selfishness, and perhaps even evidence that he’s lost his grip on reality. John Holler of Viking Update called McNabb “delusional,” as did KSTP’s Chris Long. Jeremy Fowler stopped short of questioning McNabb’s sanity but did raise an eyebrow at the timing of the interview, perhaps suggesting that McNabb is putting himself before the team.
Some of this is a little harsh. To me Donovan is just being a typical athlete. These guys never think they should be benched. They always think they’re better than the guy behind them, even if their on-field performance disputes the notion. Imagine if Brett Favre had gotten benched by Brad Childress last year. You think Favre would’ve handled that situation gracefully?
Donovan was asked a question and he answered it honestly. I personally don’t think he said anything outrageous. He’s just playing the media game the same way dozens of other athletes do. Obviously, Donovan enjoys the media game more than most. Maybe he’s just trying to set himself up for a TV job down the road, but so what? If that’s how he wants to spend his time as a bench-warmer, so be it. Man has to amuse himself somehow.
And for those who worry about McNabb’s words undermining Christian Ponder…somehow I doubt Christian cares much what McNabb says. Ponder knows McNabb is here for the short-term, while he himself is in it for the long-haul. Christian has enough on his plate without worrying about the defensive statements of disgruntled teammates. I’m certain Ponder is level-headed and mature enough to let that kind of stuff slide off him.
The bottom line is, Leslie Frazier has no reason to be concerned about the stuff McNabb spews in interviews. Leslie gets the deal: Donovan likes the cameras and the mics. As long as McNabb restricts himself to defending his own performance and doesn’t throw any teammates or coaches under the bus, Leslie won’t pay any attention either.