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Shutdown Corner

Why doesn’t Donovan McNabb wear play-calling wristbands?

Shutdown Corner

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Donovan McNabb doesn't wear a wristband with plays written on it. Why this is so has been the subject of an intense debate late this week in Washington.

One side says its because McNabb thinks wearing the wristband would be bad for his image. Despite the fact that Tom Brady and Drew Brees don the on-field cheat sheets, McNabb is said to believe that having one makes him "look stupid."

Another side says it's not true and the real reason McNabb didn't wear one is because the Redskins coaching staff never asked him to.

The initial story began on a local D.C. radio show and was treated as fact for a few hours before conflicting reports emerged. One reporter with "sources close to the situation" says it's not true. Another one insists that it is. The obligatory sniping in the press followed, with each side claiming to have the real story. It's turned the situation into more of a media tete-a-tete rather than a discussion about the play-calling habits of Donovan McNabb.

As is always the case with Washington sports, Dan Steinberg has the definitive breakdown.

Whether you buy the story or not, you can't argue that it fits with what we know of McNabb. He's always been consumed by the idea of portraying himself as a carefree, easygoing guy, even when things aren't going his way. Engaged in a public feud with Terrell Owens? He laughs it off. Getting unceremoniously dumped in Philadelphia? A chance for redemption in Washington. His defenders say that's just the way he is, that nothing bothers him. Evidently they've never watched him run the two-minute drill.

McNabb just wants to be cool. Wearing a wristband with plays isn't cool.

Also not cool? Getting benched for Rex Grossman. There's a point when vanity has to be sacrificed for the sake of performance. People come to this understanding all the time, which is why they wear glasses or get a hearing aid or wear New Balance sneakers all the time because every other shoe hurts their feet (I speak from experience). Carrying around a teleprompter like a security blanket doesn't enhance Barack Obama's image, but it's much better than stumbling over words in a policy speech. It looks stupid when Andy Reid has his plays written on what looks like a Waffle House menu.  Still, it's far better than the alternative of winging it. (Or given Reid's penchant for late-game problems, maybe it's not.)

I sort of feel sorry for McNabb this week. He's been called out by a boxer for not being black enough and now he's the subject of a story with heavy racial undertones that insinuates he's not intelligent enough. It's a no-win situation. If he stays quiet it's like he's tacitly agreeing that the stories are true. If he defends himself, he looks like he's trying too hard to manipulate his own image once again.

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