Mike Shanahan v. Albert Haynesworth

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Updated: October 31, 2013
Albert Haynesworth

Mike ShanahanFormer Washington Redskins defensive tackle and all-around fat pantload Albert Haynesworth has been taking some shots at current Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan. You may recall the two clashed almost immediately in 2010, soon after Shanahan was hired as the team’s head coach. Haynesworth failed a number of conditioning tests and Shanahan refused to let him practice with the team until he passed them. Haynesworth also resented being told to play nose tackle in the team’s new 3-4 defense. In the end, the two couldn’t get through one season together, with Haynesworth being suspended before the end of 2010. The Redskins wound up trading Haynesworth to the New England Patriots for a late round draft pick. The Patriots and, later, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, got nothing from Haynesworth. He played in just 20 games for the Redskins and “earned” $33 million in that time.

Haynesworth took a number of shots at Shanahan on Tennessee Sports Radio earlier this week. Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III is “gonna learn, I mean, I mean, I hate to say he’s gonna learn about Shanahan, how he’s conniving and everything like that, where he’s not gonna help him out; it’s all about him.”

“Great coach. Yeah. I mean, that’s what he came in, the very first meeting, he came in saying I’m a great coach, I know how to win, I’ve won 25 championships,” Haynesworth said. “I’m like, 25 championships? Then I go back and look, and I was like, you haven’t won a freaking playoff game since [John] Elway retired. How come Elway comes back after Shanahan gets fired? Kind of weird. I mean, the guy is all me, me, me. Sorry to say that.”

When asked about Haynesworth’s comments today, Shanahan chuckled and decided not to demur.

“Let me put it this way.” He paused, grabbed hold of the mic on the podium and paused before proceeding.

Shanahan said, “Let me put it this way, the only people I really haven’t gotten along with since I’ve been a head coach and an assistant coach is someone that’s lazy, and No. 2, someone that’s lazy and they may lack character, or they’re lazy and lack passion for the game. Those are really the only people I haven’t gotten along with as a head coach or as an assistant coach. And so that’s what you’re looking for.

“And through my years,” he continued, “people that are lazy and have lacked passion for their job, they don’t go into the next year of their job, and if they do, they don’t last the next year. And so the people that I’ve looked at that come back and complain and do some of the things that you do when you don’t get along with someone as a head coach or an assistant coach, usually falls in one of those couple areas: lazy, lack of passion, and lot of times, a lack of character, and he fits all three.”

Shanahan joked that he would be going to Haynesworth’s new restaurant that he recently opened in Knoxville. Then he concluded, before heading back to his office, “You usually take the high road as much as you can, but I thought that he’s been talking quite a bit, I thought, over the last couple years. So, I thought I’d at least be honest with you guys and kind of tell you how I feel.”

Chris CooleyFormer Redskins tight end and current broadcaster Chris Cooley said Haynesworth was a lazy player, a quitter interested only in money who wanted to take the money and run. Speaking on ESPN980:

[Haynesworth] “was TRYING to get released by the team. His goal was to come here, make a large signing bonus, and then get released and not have to do any of the work. He didn’t care about the back end of that contract, he didn’t care about making all of that money. His idea was, you paid me for what I did in the past, and my goal is to be released as soon as possible and basically take $33 million from you for absolutely nothing.” …

“His goal from the get-go was to take that money. He also indicated to many players on the team that his new goal was to get released as soon as possible, sign another maybe $10, 12 million contract — that’s verbatim — go somewhere, play for a year and probably get released, and keep that money too. I mean, if it was a player on this team currently, I would not discuss this on the air. But being the player that he was, and the guy that he was around here, this was open [knowledge] among many players in this locker room: that his goal was basically to take money.

“And it’s really unfortunate when that happens. I guess … his excuse for it, was well, the leagues steal from all you guys, the leagues won’t pay you YOUR salaries, they won’t give you YOUR money, so I’m gonna get what’s right from them.”

So did coach Mike Shanahan know about Hayneworth’s one-man Ponzi scheme?

“I don’t know if that was explained to Mike, but that’s obvious to a coach,” Cooley said. “That’s obvious when you’re around a player, that they’re not trying to play for your team…It doesn’t matter what you got [in exchange for Haynesworth]. They would have released him if they wouldn’t have got anything for him. It wasn’t about getting a pick out of him. It was about a terrible decision to bring in an awful human being into an organization that he’s not going to participate in. You should know that. You should be aware of that.”

Rarely have more damning words been spoken about one ex-player about another ex-player and it would be interesting to hear Haynesworth address Cooley’s accusation. It would also be interesting to see if anyone else on the Redskins in 2009-10 will back up Cooley’s claim.

In any case, this is precisely the sort of fight Mike Shanahan wants right now. The team is 2-5, the offense is struggling, his son’s decision-making as offensive coordinator is under attack, and the offseason was replete with questions about Shanahan’s handling of RG3. Respected columnists like Rick Snider think Dan Snyder should be looking for a replacement for Shanahan right now. But if there is one thing all Redskins fans can agree on — even fans that don’t like Mike Shanahan — it’s that Albert Haynesworth was a waste of money, time, oxygen. And Cooley’s accusations, explosive as they are, are believable because it’s Albert Haynesworth. If the Redskins were 5-2 and sitting in first place, Shanahan probably would not bother to respond. Or, more likely, Haynesworth wouldn’t have made the comments. He didn’t seem to mouth off much last year after the Redskins won the division championship. The team is down, Shanahan is down, so Haynesworth is talking. And Shanahan is responding for the same reason. It’s precisely the fight the ball coach wants to have to distract people, including his critics, from the state of the team.

And lest anyone forget how awful Albert Haynesworth was in a Redskins uniform, I would remind you of this clip of the fat man falling flat on his face during a Monday Night Football game against the Eagles in 2010 — and just laying there taking a breather while the play continued. Enjoy…