If Mike Shanahan is trying to make a point – that he, and no one else, is in charge of the Washington Redskins franchise – then we can all agree on this: Point made.
But at what cost? The unhappy training-camp standoff between the Redskins' new head coach and defensive lineman Albert Haynesworth is now in its second week, with no end in sight. And if Shanny is to be believed, Haynesworth won't be allowed to join his teammates in practice until he completes the drills in the allotted time. A sore left knee prevented him from attempting the drill Sunday and today.
There's no denying these two are at odds, whether they admit it or not. Haynesworth collected a $21-million bonus from the team at the same time he was voicing his displeasure at playing nose tackle in the Redskins' new 3-4 defense. He didn't get the trade he wanted, and Shanahan is making it clear that new rules are in place. The laissez-faire days under former coach Jim Zorn are over.
Even if you appreciate Shanahan's iron-fisted approach, you've got to wonder about the long-term effects the Haynesworth episode will have on the team and player. No one expects a revolt, but today's professional athletes are an increasingly sensitive bunch. Who knows if Haynesworth will fall into an emotional funk, or if his teammates will choose sides should this stalemate linger? If that happens, no one wins.
Worst of all, Haynesworth is missing time on the practice field. Joining his teammates in pads surely must be more important than finishing a conditioning test. The only reason Shanahan is requiring the lineman to complete it is because Haynesworth was absent from virtually all of the Redskins' offseason conditioning program.
But isn't it more important for Haynesworth to get comfortable with the new defense? As defensive end Phillip Daniels said on Sunday, "He's missed a lot. The defense, I don't say it's hard to learn, but it's just a lot of terminology."
Here's what Shanahan said today, according to the Washington Post: "You've got to be in certain shape to go through a practice. And that knee after three sprints, or back and forth, couldn't go any further. Hopefully, with treatment, it gets better and he gets in football shape and is out there ready to play with his teammates."
Right now, every day Haynesworth misses means it will take that much longer to find his comfort level.