The highest-paid defensive player in NFL history is now the highest-paid player to ever be kicked off his team in the middle of the season.
After months of ongoing drama, the Washington Redskins suspended former All-Pro Albert Haynesworth(notes) for the team's final four games of the season. The official reason was the mercurial star's "conduct detrimental to the team."
Haynesworth, who signed a massive deal with the spend-happy Redskins in the opening minutes of the 2009 free-agency season, will not be paid for those games. That will cost Haynesworth more than $3.5 million over the next month (He did, however, play 20 games for the team for a total of $34 million).
Though he could be a destructive force when on the field, Haynesworth far too often played without emotion or effort. Because of this, he won't be missed in the team's locker room or by fans. His tenure in D.C. has been characterized by that laziness, apathy and a general sense that the $100 million man would rather be anywhere than in Washington. After he was benched for Sunday's game against the New York Giants, teammates anonymously bashed him to local D.C. columnists and one, Philip Daniels, teared up when describing the divisive presence in the locker room.
This is almost certainly the final salvo in the battle between Haynesworth and new Redskins coach Mike Shanahan. The relationship between the two started off on a sour note when Haynesworth refused to attend offseason minicamps despite accepting a $20 million roster bonus in March, and then continued during training camp when Shanahan put Haynesworth through a series of public conditioning tests that the lineman failed to pass. He missed games for various reasons this season, including this past one, in which he was benched on gameday without prior announcement. When he reacted to this by telling 'Skins GM Bruce Allen that he wouldn't speak to Shanahan for the rest of the season (yes, he pulled the silent treament move), Shanahan reacted.
[Photos: See more of the Redskins in action]
In a statement he said:
"Despite the club's numerous attempts to persuade Albert Haynesworth to abide by the terms of his contract, he has repeatedly refused to cooperate with our coaching staff in a variety of ways over an extended period of time. Among other things, he has consistently indicated to our defensive coaches that he refuses to play in our base defense or on first-down or second-down nickel situations. He has also refused to follow the instructions of our coaches both during weekly practices and during actual games as well.
"[Monday], when Albert was at Redskin Park, he told our General Manager Bruce Allen that he [Haynesworth] would no longer speak with me. Although suspending any player is not a decision that a head coach enters into lightly, I believe the situation has reached the point where the club clearly has no alternative."
The club has had no alternative for nearly nine months. It took until Tuesday to realize it.
This play defines Haynesworth's career with the Redskins: