TORONTO - Albert Haynesworth may finally be getting the ticket out of Washington he has been lobbying for ever since Mike Shanahan arrived.
It can’t happen soon enough. The petty feud between coach and player has become a pox on the NFL. It has made the Redskins a punch-line. It has made Haynesworth look selfish and it has shown Shanahan to be a petulant, self-absorbed egotist rather than the saviour he was purported to be when the Redskins hired him.
ESPN reported Monday that a club source said there is a 75% chance Haynesworth could be released by Saturday after Shanahan essentially benched him for Sunday’s game.
This has been a marriage of inconvenience from the start. Haynesworth didn’t want to fit into Shanahan’s defensive scheme, but considering the team is paying him $100 million US, the least he could have done was try.
But, it’s easy to pick on the guy making the big dollars. Shanahan seems to have completely mismanaged both Haynesworth, the lynch-pin of his defence, as well as the leader of his offence, Donovan McNabb. Is it any wonder this team played like it had no heart in Sunday’s loss to New York.
Shanahan essentially ripped out whatever heart his team still had weeks ago. Instead of trying to work with Haynesworth he escalated the pigheadedness by embarrassing the defensive lineman in training camp with conditioning drills that really didn’t mean anything except to Shanahan.
In proving how tough he was, he forever lost any potential of bringing Haynesworth on side. While many players vocally supported Shanahan, it is the type of dispute that always causes hard feelings in the dressing room.
A few weeks ago Shanahan humiliated McNabb when he pulled him in the final minutes of a game against the Lions. Bad enough he didn’t show any trust in the guy who’s supposedly signed to lead the team into the foreseeable future but then he told some absurd tale about how McNabb wasn’t in shape to run a two-minute drill.
That just doesn’t play in the dressing room. Neither this week does yanking what still is your best defensive lineman in a game that needed to be won to salvage any playoff hopes.
Shanahan claimed his 335-pound defensive tackle wasn’t ready to play two days after turning up sick, and three days after practicing as if he were sick. Haynesworth admitted he showed up a minute late to work Friday - because he was sick, he said - but swore he arrived at New Meadowlands Stadium ready to make life a misery for Eli Manning.
Instead, between him and Shanahan they’ve made life a misery for the Redskins. McNabb told ESPN he was unaware Haynesworth had even been deactivated by Shanahan. “I didn’t know that the decision was made until the beginning of the game,” McNabb said, “when I saw him walking around in his sweat suit.” If the guy is sick how can the supposed team captain and leader not know his absence is a possibility. It’s goofy.
No wonder this team plays like it’s in a fog. Nobody knows what’s going to happen next - except, that when it does happen it will be bad.
The Eagles have an out in the contract with McNabb. Shanahan is no doubt an elite coach, a Super Bowl coach, but he hasn’t shown it with these guys. The best thing he can do is dump Haynesworth. There will be teams willing to take a flyer on him. He can still play when he wants to play. The next best thing Shanahan can do is let McNabb go somewhere he’ll be appreciated for what he has left to offer.
Only then can everyone relax, take a deep breath, and start over. This isn’t going to work. Not now. Not next year. Not ever.
Kevin Ogletree is expected to step in as the Cowboys’ No. 3 wide receiver with Dez Bryant suffering a broken right ankle on a kick return. Sam Hurd and Roy Williams’ reps figure to increase as well ... The Dolphins are looking to get younger at running back meaning either Ricky Williams or Ronnie Brown’s days are numbered in Miami ... As if the Colts don’t already have enough problems, starting cornerback Jerraud Powers broke a bone in his forearm and appears likely to miss at least a couple of games ... Retired Cardinals QB Kurt Warner was in the broadcast booth for Sunday’s loss and said he “felt pity for his former team-mates.” The last thing an athlete wants is to have someone pity their efforts. When it comes from a former team-mate it has to hurt even more. Terrell Owens needs 88 more receiving yards to become just the second player (Jerry Rice) to reach 16,000 yards ... Vikings have signed running back Lorenzo Booker out of the United Football League.