"It was definitely a shocker to a lot of us," said cornerback DeAngelo Hall, an Atlanta rookie when McNabb and Philadelphia beat the Falcons in the 2004 NFC championship game. "As far as lingering effects of him getting benched, we really don't know what to expect. We hadn't had that happen before.
"He's a consummate professional. He'll probably never let you guys know what's on his mind. He probably won't even let us know. ... We're employees. We do what the coaches say to do. If that's come out of the game, we come out of the game. For us to not rally behind what's being coached, that's not going to happen."
But Hall joked that given the tremendous pressure the Lions were putting on McNabb, Shanahan shouldn't have replaced him with less mobile Grossman but with 5-foot-7, 155-pound Brandon Banks, who was bedeviling Detroit on returns.
"That's what you needed back there," Hall said. "You needed a guy to run around. It was tough out there. Hat goes off to the Detroit Lions, that defense, they brought it from start to finish."
But McNabb wasn't allowed to finish for just the second time in his illustrious career. Defensive end Phillip Daniels, who has faced McNabb nine times as an opponent, thought the quarterback was injured.
"I didn't realize until I got in the locker room that he wasn't hurt," Daniels said. "With all the comebacks he's had in his career, it surprised me. We've played against him a number of times when he didn't have the best game, but at the end he came though ... and (found) a way to win. Everything's not going to go smoothly during a game, but I've got a lot of trust in him at the end of games. I would love to him in there at the end."
Apparently Shanahan doesn't, choosing Grossman, who spent last season as the little-used backup in coordinator Kyle Shanahan's system in Houston. While the curious decision backfired on Grossman's first play when he was sacked, stripped and lost the ball which was returned for the clinching touchdown, the move could affect whether McNabb, who's unsigned for 2011, returns to Washington.
"It does raise an interesting point," Hall said. "After the season, will he be here or not? He has a decision to make, too. It's not strictly up to this organization. Everybody in this locker room would love to have him back."
Daniels, who has talked to McNabb, isn't worried that Shanahan has poisoned the relationship with the quarterback whom he traded for in April.
"(Donovan) will be all right," Daniels said. "I saw him this morning. I asked if he was OK. He said he was fine. Donovan has handled things well in his career and he's going to handle it the right way. All the guys in here love him. We trust him.
"As far as contract, sometimes teams want to wait to see how the season go before they make decisions. I know it's on his mind a little bit, but I know it will get worked out. I think the team will handle it the right way. I remember (Donovan being benched in 2008) in Philly. He came back and he proved everybody wrong. He proved the coaches wrong. So I think he's going to come back stronger."
Brian Billick and Jim Mora try to make sense of Mike Shanahan's decision to bench Donovan McNabb.