- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 24, 2013

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

The NFL Network reported Sunday that Redskins quarterback Robert “SuperBob” Griffin III asked the coaching staff to stop showing his negative plays during film sessions – or, as they say in the radio business, just play the hits.

Another NFL Network report – remember, this is the network owned by the National Football League – said a Redskins player called SuperBob’s postgame comments about the play-calling after their 24-16 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles “cold-blooded.”

All this followed a week of controversy about those SuperBob postgame comments and his finger-pointing despite his poor performance, and teammates publicly questioning his refusal to accept responsibility for the team’s disappointing season – dominating national sports coverage.

It was so bad on Sunday that Shanahan had to interrupt whatever it is Mike Shanahan does on Sunday when he is not coaching football to come out and make a statement about the latest shot to SuperBob – “playing the hits.”

“The story is completely false,” Shanahan said. “There’s just no truth to it.”

Well, that’s like using a glass to bail water out of a sinking boat. The SuperBob diva storyline is a runaway train. The questions being asked about Mike Shanahan’s future here in Washington in the fourth year of his five-year contract include whether or not SuperBob wants him to stay, and how much influence the embattled quarterback may have with owner Daniel Snyder when that decision is made.

It doesn’t matter if the questions are fair. The fact that Shanahan feels the need to go out of his way to address them on an NFL Sunday shows that they are being taken seriously inside Redskins Park.

Statements aren’t going to stem the tide. Winning would, but you can’t count on that from week to week with this Redskins squad. No, this is going to require some drastic public relations step to cool down the heat.

Mike Shanahan is going to have to play the good wife.

So far we have seen Shanahan alone publicly tell everyone to go back to their homes, there is nothing to see here. And we have seen SuperBob do the same alone, though he can’t seem to stop himself from leaving these passive-aggressive stink bombs in almost every press conference.

What we haven’t seen is Shanahan and SuperBob up there together – a public united front – to tell the world that this marriage between coach and quarterback is strong and will survive this.

We need to see a Redskins version of Anthony Weiner, the New York congressman who had to resign because of a sexting scandal, standing before the press with his wife Huma Abedin, telling reporters that “our marriage, like many others, has had its up and downs.”

They need to take a page from the Eliot Spitzer playbook, the former New York attorney general who, after being caught in a hooker controversy in 2008, had his wife, Silda, publicly stand by his side while he pleaded his case to the media.

Why does Shanahan play the role of the good wife? Because SuperBob is clearly the politician in this melodrama.

The NFL Network also reported that during the height of the furor last week, SuperBob met with Mike Shanahan to “clear the air” and that the word inside the building is that they “are working together.”

If such a meeting indeed did take place, then it is reasonable to assume that the need for such a meeting is evidence of significant friction between the coach and the quarterback, which has been on display in bits and pieces ever since SuperBob stayed on the field in that Seattle playoff game last season on one leg.

After all, if such a meeting between Shanahan and SuperBob was required, what was going on before then?

One meeting isn’t likely going to “clear the air” inside Redskins Park. But they should be just as concerned about the air quality outside as well. SuperBob and Shanahan saying together publicly that “our marriage, like many others, has had its up and downs” might stop the boat from taking on water.

Thom Loverro is co-host of “The Sports Fix,” noon to 2 p.m. daily on ESPN 980 radio and espn980.com

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