The circle of trust is broken.
Washington Redskins players have to trust coach Mike Shanahan to perform unselfishly.
Fans must trust Shanahan's the right coach to uplift the sagging franchise.
Everyone has to trust owner Dan Snyder to step in at critical times.
Instead, the Redskins don't have any of the needed threesome as the franchise continues to languish. Too many coaches and too many new failed plans over the past decade leave Washington a shell of what was once one of the NFL's elite franchises.
Good luck on season ticket renewal letters arriving shortly before the NFL lockout begins in March. Nobody's buying into this nonsense anymore.
Shanahan's poor handling of Donovan McNabb and Albert Haynesworth surely cost trust in the locker room. Players talk of protecting their jobs and that's not what playoff teams focus on -- they worry about winning, not unemployment.
Players now know the real truth of sports -- they're expendable. Everyone knows that's true except players, who try not to think about it. Well, now they're thinking about it.
Certainly, Shanahan was within his right to suspend Haynesworth and bench McNabb. Nobody's greatly opposing the moves. Haynesworth was a diva who didn't want to play here and McNabb's performance was uneven.
But Shanahan showed neither player any respect when handling it. McNabb hinted Shanahan disrespected him by leaking the benching earlier in the week. Indeed, the coach's pipeline to several national reporters is well known. It's one thing to handle Haynesworth harshly because he wasn't a sympathetic figure, but it's flat out wrong to disrespect McNabb twice this season.
McNabb is beloved in the locker room and stands. Players take sides if only privately. Shanahan is the bad guy here. He didn't need to be if only he handled it better.
Shanahan may be the most disliked Redskins coach of the post-Vince Lombardi era when revamping the franchise in 1969. Steve Spurrier and Jim Zorn were pitied by fans. Joe Gibbs and George Allen were beloved. Marty Schottenheimer and Jack Pardee drew lukewarm support.
Fans no longer trust Shanahan to build the Redskins. They see his poor handling of McNabb, not to mention a 5-9 record, miserable 3-4 defense and several failed personnel moves, as reasons to believe Shanahan is the wrong coach. Redskins fans are already sour nowadays, but they're squarely ready to give Snyder a free pass on changing coaches, which won't happen despite a possible 1-8 finish.
Snyder lost the fans' trust last year when massive late-season game boycotts forced front office changes. Snyder did the right thing by backing away. Ironically, that wasn't quite the right move either. Jack Kent Cooke was the perfect model of largely letting his front office run the team, but still being involved in major decisions. Snyder's non-involvement lets fans realize there are no checks and balances inside the franchise regarding major moves.
Regaining trust all around takes two things -- time and winning. That means it will be awhile before the Burgundy Revolution are believers again.