Albert Haynesworth was a mini-camp no-show on Wednesday and demanded a trade. Meanwhile, the Redskins are no longer mincing their words about their $100 million headache.
Inside linebacker London Fletcher, a team captain and respected leader, was the most outspoken player to field questions about the mammoth defensive tackle’s absence.
“Albert has made a very selfish decision,” Fletcher said after the Skins’ first mandatory summer practice. “When you decide to play a team sport, you have to think about everybody involved in the situation. This is not golf or tennis where it’s an ‘all about you’ sport.”
“[Haynesworth] decided to make a decision all about [himself],” Fletcher added. “It’s no different than his attitude and approach to last year’s defense. He wanted everything to revolve around him, and if it didn’t benefit him, he wasn’t willing to do it.”
Philip Daniels had similar thoughts.
"He turned his back on us. That's how we feel," Daniels said. "Whether he comes back and fits in? I don't know. He's got a lot of rebuilding to do."
The stinging criticism of Washington’s highest paid player was the first of its kind. Prior to Wednesday morning, Haynesworth’s teammates had almost universally been defending his absence, saying that as long as he came to camp in shape this week -- nothing else mattered.
Earlier this offseason, I asked one of the Redskins defensive linemen about Haynesworth. He said all the right things, assuring me that the former Titan had not become a distraction. I asked this particular player when he had last spoken to Haynesworth. His response?
“Not since last season. I don’t even have the guy’s cell phone number.”
That’s a problem.
Head Coach Mike Shanahan, being tested by a veteran for the first time in his inaugural season with the Redskins, was also candid with the media after his team finished practice on Wednesday without a complete roster.
“He decided to take our check,” Shanahan said about Haynesworth, who was paid a mandatory $21 million roster bonus just two months ago. “I’m very disappointed he wasn’t here today.”
Shanahan explained the Redskins' side of things in more detail.
"We would give him until April 1 to go to any team in the National Football League he wanted, so if he wasn't pleased with playing nose tackle, defensive end or any position we had for him, we'd let him take a look at any team he'd like to go to," Shanahan said. "But, by April 1 when we owed him a check of $21 million, we said if you do take that check we expect you to be the best defensive end, best nose tackle ... if we played you at free safety we expect you to be the best free safety -- even though he'd have to lose a little bit of weight to be a free safety -- whatever position that we wanted him to play at he'd do the best job he possibly could and make the commitment that he's going to be the best football player."
Washington can fine the disobedient nine-year vet as much as $9,442 a day. But even that maximum fine would only serve as a shin-kick to a monster.
A monster the Redskins created, of course, when they paid a guy with previous character issues a record amount of money.
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