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Haynesworth Focus of Tampering Probe

By Jason Reid
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, May 24, 2009

Albert Haynesworth is among the people expected to be interviewed by NFL officials possibly as early as this week regarding allegations that the Washington Redskins violated league tampering rules, according to league sources.

NFL investigators have been reviewing information relating to the Redskins' pursuit of Haynesworth, who formerly played for the Tennessee Titans, and whether his representative was improperly contacted before free agency officially began at midnight Feb. 27. The Redskins and Haynesworth agreed to terms of a deal by 5:30 a.m. Feb. 27.

League investigators are interested in obtaining all communications between Haynesworth's agent, Chad Speck, and Redskins officials in the weeks before free agency opened. Part of the difficulty, though, in determining the subject matter of the contact is that Speck also represents Redskins wide receiver Malcolm Kelly.

Reports emerged during the NFL combine in mid-February in Indianapolis that Speck and Snyder had dinner together. However, Snyder often is seen publicly in those kinds of settings with agents. The Titans, according to a report in the Tennessean, forwarded to the league office newspaper stories, a radio clip, and electronic communication that they believe show there was improper contact.

Through a spokesman, the Redskins declined comment on the matter and the NFL has a policy of not commenting on tampering issues.

Although tampering charges are difficult to prove, teams have been stripped of draft choices when the NFL finds sufficient evidence. Last year, for instance, the San Francisco 49ers were stripped of a fifth-round draft pick when the league found that they violated tampering rules by having conversations with Drew Rosenhaus, the agent for Chicago Bears linebacker Lance Briggs.

In the aftermath of Spygate last year, Commissioner Roger Goodell implemented a set of rules to crack down on cheating. One change lowered the threshold for the standard of proof needed for him to discipline a team for any competitive violation, including tampering. Charges most often arise when one team files a complaint, but the NFL reserves the right to investigate any case in which it suspects wrongdoing without a team filing a charge.

A proposal by the competition committee that is presently before NFL owners would create a two-day window before the opening of the free agency period during which an eligible player could negotiate freely with all teams.

Staff writer Mark Maske contributed to this report.

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