Tracee Hamilton - Sports Columnist

A minicamp becomes a major issue between Mike Shanahan and Albert Haynesworth

Coach Mike Shanahan wants discipline, so the Redskins may part with Albert Haynesworth after paying him a king's ransom for 12 games.
Coach Mike Shanahan wants discipline, so the Redskins may part with Albert Haynesworth after paying him a king's ransom for 12 games. (Richard A. Lipski/the Washington Post)
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By Tracee Hamilton
Sunday, April 11, 2010

Mike Shanahan and Albert Haynesworth are engaged in a Clash of the Titans that may eventually require 3-D glasses and a box of popcorn. Shanahan, the new Redskins coach, expects Haynesworth to show up at Redskins Park on Friday for a voluntary minicamp. Haynesworth, the newish Redskins defensive lineman, has indicated that he won't. And because this isn't like a Supreme Court vacancy -- this is important -- the whole town is talking.

Shanahan did not like the fact that Haynesworth would not come to Redskins Park for voluntary workouts and instead chose to work out on his own. Haynesworth did not like the fact that Shanahan decided to institute a 3-4 defense, effectively moving him to nose tackle, a position he is perhaps too talented to play, during those times when he is on the field.

These problems might have been solvable at one point -- maybe over beers with President Obama at the White House? But the Redskins have attempted to trade Haynesworth and his gigantic salary and are still trying. The time for a negotiated peace has passed, and the time for the big question is upon us.

What if the Redskins can't trade Haynesworth? Does Shanahan have to swallow his whistle with a pride chaser and take the guy back? Or will the organization bite the bullet, pay what's owed Haynesworth -- the cherry on top of this worst-investment-in-Washington-sports-history sundae -- and cut him loose?

Tough as it may be to swallow, my money's on the cherry.

Of course, it's not my money, it's Dan Snyder's, but that's only fair. After all, the original deal wasn't mine, or Shanahan's, for that matter. If Shanahan and GM Bruce Allen -- also not responsible for Haynesworth's contract -- want the owner to buy the guy off, to get rid of a problem or send a message or whatever -- will Snyder back the Dynamic Duo as part of his attempt at a more hands-off approach to ownership?

Buying off Haynesworth would likely stick in Snyder's craw, as it should, but I don't think it will set a precedent, simply because I think it will be a long time before anyone in this organization, including its owner, comes with a contract ridiculous enough to rival Haynesworth's. It's a big check to write, but if that's what Shanahan wants, I believe that's what he'll get. And I'm not sure there are a lot of other options.

If, let's say, London Fletcher said he didn't want to attend a voluntary mini-camp in April, that wouldn't raise a lot of eyebrows in the locker room or among fans.

Fletcher plays every down, hard, and he arrives at camp every summer in better shape than the year before. He's a bad example to use, however, because he's also a team leader, which means he'd show up for a voluntary colonoscopy if a coach told him to.

But it's not London Fletcher we're talking about. It's Albert Haynesworth. Has he earned a free pass after 12 (partial) games as a Redskin?

A lot of people were eager to see Jim Zorn leave after last season -- among them, probably, Jim Zorn -- and one reason given was the uneven treatment of players. There was a lot of talk from the players about guys skipping training camp practices or other gatherings that most were expected to attend. In the wake of Zorn's departure, everyone -- players, media, fans -- agreed that the team needed more discipline.

Well, this is what discipline looks like. It's not easy to watch, which is what makes it easy for tear-stained cherubs to pit parents against each other, and what makes it easy for fans (also perhaps tear-stained) to relax their principles and urge the coach to let it go, just this once.


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