August 23, 2010
After basically being called a liar by his disgruntled defensive lineman on Saturday night, Shanahan fired back on Sunday. The new 'Skins coach told reporters that unless Haynesworth changed his ways, he wouldn't be allowed on the field:
"One thing for sure that is clear to me is that Albert has gotten away in the past with playing without practicing," Shanahan said. "That will not happen under this regime. If he's going to play, he's going to practice, and that is the same with every player here. The days of him playing without practicing are over. And that, to me, says it all."
Shanahan's comments were in response to Haynesworth's words following the Redskins' preseason game against the Baltimore Ravens. After playing only a few series in the second half of that game (and we use the term "playing" very lightly -- Haynesworth mostly stood around and loafed his way through every play), the NFL's highest-paid defensive player whined to the press about his lack of playing time and accused the Redskins of lying about his health status. With generous use of sarcastic air-quotes, Haynesworth said the reported "headaches," which kept him out of practice the week before, were actually something else. The next day it was reported that Haynesworth was diagnosed with a degenerative muscular condition called rhabdomyolysis.
[Photos: See more images of Albert Haynesworth]
When Shanahan was asked about Haynesworth's new condition, he said he was "not aware of that."
While Shanahan is to be commended for finally taking a stand against Haynesworth, it's likely he's waging a battle he can't win. You can't fight apathy. If Haynesworth doesn't care, he's not going to start caring just because Shanahan draws a line in the sand. There's no other recourse for the coach; he has to assert control over his petulant star and show the other 52 guys in the locker room that he's the boss. But Haynesworth has made a career of not caring except for when there was a free-agent contract on the line. Why is he all of a sudden going to start now, especially after pocketing a guaranteed $21 million bonus in March?
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