By all accounts, Snyder played a significant role in bringing defensive lineman Albert Haynesworth to Washington, encouraging his top lieutenants to reel in the biggest fish in the 2009 free agent pond and extending a contract offer that stunned many in the NFL. According to Redskins Coach Mike Shanahan, though, Snyder played no role in the team’s decision this week to suspend Haynesworth for the remainder of the season, effectively ending the defensive tackle’s tumultuous tenure in Washington after only 20 games.
“Dan’s been great to me,” Shanahan said Wednesday, addressing members of the media for the first time since the suspension was announced Tuesday afternoon. “I haven’t even discussed the situation with Dan.”
Snyder paid Haynesworth nearly $35 million, an investment on which the Redskins saw little return. After 11 months of drama, Shanahan decided Tuesday that he’d had enough and suspended Haynesworth without pay for the final four games of the season.
The NFL Players Association is expected to appeal the suspension, which could cost Haynesworth $847,059. Because there are so few games remaining, Haynesworth’s camp would likely seek an expedited appeal, which could prompt a faster ruling from an arbitrator. An expedited appeal, afforded to suspended players under the terms of the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement, would be heard within seven days after a request is filed.
Shanahan explained Wednesday that Haynesworth’s alleged insubordination – “he didn’t like the base defense, didn’t like the nickel defense, didn’t want to play nose tackle, he didn’t want to play defensive end,” the coach said – had reached an unacceptable point in recent days. The veteran head coach said he’d run out of options.
“I’ve never quite been through a situation like this before,” said Shanahan, a football coach for more than 35 years. “And we did it in the best interests of our football team. And now, we go on.”
That was a continuing theme around Redskins Park Wednesday. Haynesworth still had a locker full of clothes and athletic equipment, but other Redskins players went about their regular business without him. Defensive captain London Fletcher refused to answer any questions about Haynesworth, and other teammates, many of whom have said for weeks that their defense was better with Haynesworth on the field, expressed some sense of relief that a season-long distraction had been relegated to the suspended list.
“I wouldn’t say that it’s good that he’s gone,” said linebacker Lorenzo Alexander. “It’s more that the situation is over.”
Replacing Haynesworth on the field might not be an especially tall task. He contributed primarily on passing downs and had minimal impact in most Redskins games. While players say he had the potential to wreak havoc, no one was pinning the team’s 5-7 record on Haynesworth – as a distraction or as a defensive lineman.
“I never put no thought to whatever going on with him anyway,” cornerback Carlos Rogers said. “He’s not really been no distraction to me. . . . On Sundays when you playing, you know, I’m not out there covering receivers – whether Albert out there or not – thinking about what he’s got going on. I’m thinking about what I got to do.”
But on most other days, players have had to field a variety of questions about Haynesworth’s playing status, his relationship with coaches, his familiarity with the defense or his role in the organization.