Without a doubt, the darkest period during my eight seasons covering the Washington Redskins was the Albert Haynesworth era.
Whether he was face down on the field after giving up on a play or failing a routine conditioning test, Haynesworth was undoubtedly the biggest embarrassment this franchise has had to deal with during my time on the sidelines.
The Redskins gave the defensive lineman a $100-million contract, and in return, they got a surly malcontent who made little effort to fit in with his teammates off the field or with his coaching staff’s preferred style of play on it. Basically, he was the worst free agent signing in the history of the NFL and the only possible bright spot to come out of the entire ordeal is that maybe now the franchise thinks twice before trying to “win the offseason.”
Either way, after two seasons, Haynesworth was sent packing and the Redskins moved on. The man made a great deal of money during his brief stint here and typically that’s where the story should end. Except Haynesworth, for whatever reason, decided to try and stir stuff up with his comments to Tennessee Sports Radio this week.
“He comes in and completely changes the defense to a 3-4, where I’m reading,” said Haynesworth. “I’m not doing things that I normally do — exploding and shooting the gaps and creating havoc — I’m staying on the line, going left and right. Not even going forward.”
Okay, so Haynesworth still isn’t pleased with the way he used utilized in Washington. Whatever. Life happens. And yet, Fat Albert wasn’t done ripping into Shanahan.
“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,” said Haynesworth. “I’m like, 25 championships? Then I go back and look, and I was like, you haven’t won a freaking playoff game since [Hall of Fame quarterback 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.”
And since the malcontent was on the subject of quarterbacks playing under Shanahan, he apparently felt obligated to include Robert Griffin III in his conversation.
“I mean, it’s like, you can’t win with that team. And you think it was just me? I mean, look how he did Donovan [McNabb]. See what’s going on with RGIII. I met RGIII. He seemed like an extremely nice guy that’s willing to work. Now he’s gonna learn — I mean, I hate to say he’s gonna learn — about [Mike Shanahan], how he’s conniving and everything like that, where he’s not gonna help him out, it’s all about him.”
Got all of that? Well, Shanahan apparently heard enough, so yesterday he decided to do something NFL coaches rarely do — fire back on a player.
“Let’s put it this way,” Shanahan started. “I think I’ve been a head coach and an assistant coach for about 40 years, and when you look back on those days and you take a look at the people that you get along with or people that –- for one reason or another –- that you may not get along with, Albert was one of the few guys that … Let me start this over again because I want to be pretty specific on this since you asked me that question …”
Shanahan paused, collected his thoughts and started over — just to make sure people knew exactly how he felt about Haynesworth.
“The only people I really haven’t gotten along with since I’ve been a coach –- as head coach, an assistant coach –- is someone that’s lazy and number two, when somebody is lazy and they may lack character, or they’re lazy and they lack passion for the game, those are the only people I haven’t gotten along with as a head coach or as an assistant coach,” said Shanahan. “And so that’s what you’re looking for. When I take a look through my years at people that have been lazy or have lacked passion for their job, they don’t go into the next year. When they do, they don’t last the next year.
“So the people that I look at that come back and complain or do some of those things that you do when you don’t get along with somebody as a head coach or an assistant coach, it usually falls into one of those couple areas: lazy, lack of passion, and a lot of times, a lack of character,” he continued. “And he fits all three … You usually take the high road as much as you can. I usually do, but I thought that he’s been talking quite a bit over the last couple years, so I thought at least I’d be honest with you guys and kind of tell you how I feel.”
And with that, Shanahan dropped the mic and walked away from the podium like a boss. Okay, he didn’t really. But he should have.