This not-knowing-the-overtime-rules business is a sideshow for Donovan McNabb. His bigger issue is the series of terribly slow starts that have plagued him in the last month. But, still, it's out there.
How would I deal with it? If I were him, or his people, I would get David Letterman on the phone immediately. I would offer to tape a Top 10 list, pronto -- the top 10 rules Donovan McNabb wasn't aware of. You know -- "No. 6...no white shoes after Labor Day." That kind of thing. He should make fun of himself and hope that people can then recognize this for what it is: stunning, yes, but a lot more embarrassing and symbolic than it was meaningful.
Some people say it could have affected the outcome of the Eagles' 13-13 tie against Cincinnati. I don't see it. There is an imperative with every possession in overtime -- because everyone knows, if you give up the ball, it could be your last shot. There can be no greater incentive than that. That is everybody's motivation, in the first minute of overtime or the 14th -- don't give up the ball because you might not get it back. Not knowing when the game might end does not change that.
The only time it could potentially have an effect would be at the very end of the quarter. For instance, let's say that McNabb audibled out of the Hail Mary he threw on the last play of the game and dumped the ball off short instead, thinking there would be another quarter. That would have been bad, a clear error because he didn't know that the game would end after 15 minutes of overtime, even if tied. But that's the only situation I can imagine where his lack of knowledge would be an issue -- and, well, it didn't happen in reality. He threw the Hail Mary.
Anyway, that would be my two-pronged PR strategy -- make fun of himself (like Mike Schmidt wearing that wig-and-glasses disguise after ripping the fans in a long-ago newspaper story), and after everybody got done laughing, gently make the point that it really didn't matter during the game.
And then go out and try something different, like completing a pass or two in the first quarter at Baltimore.