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Regarding Albert Haynesworth, does Mike Shanahan want to be happy or right?

By Mike Wise
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, August 22, 2010; 1:17 AM

In sports and life, most stalemates end when one person finally confronts a key question: Do they want to be happy or right?

In regard to No. 92, Mike Shanahan can't be both.

It's no longer possible after Mount Albert finally blew late Saturday night, spewing lava, expressing utter contempt for every insulting hoop that he believes the Redskins and My-Way Mike have made a disgruntled two-time Pro Bowl defensive lineman jump through-- all because the big lug had the gall to miss offseason workouts with the team.

Albert Haynesworth is ticked his coach is making him play with the second team in the third quarter of a meaningless preseason game. He is tired of being portrayed as some mentally and physically soft player by the coach, who mouths the words, "Albert said he had a headache," like a frustrated spouse mocking a disinterested partner.

"They act like I had a headache," Haynesworth said, on his way to the team parking lot after the Ravens and Redskins game Saturday night. "It was a lot more than that. I got out of a hot tub. I was dizzy. I threw up."

Basically, Big Al is tired of being made so small by a team hellbent on making sure not even its most dominating player is held to a double standard.

"I guess to make themselves look good, make me look bad for not going to their offseason conditioning program," Haynesworth said when asked why the team didn't reveal more about his condition. "But, I mean, next year I'm not coming either. I'm going to be with my trainer again and I'll get back in the same shape I am and feel good about myself."

Boy, they sure taught Albert a lesson didn't they? He finally came around and realized who was boss, huh?

Again, does Shanahan want to be right or happy?

Unless he truly believes Haynesworth represents such a toxic combination of insubordination and distraction that the team would be better off without such a talent, the coach can't be both.

If Haynesworth truly hasn't earned his playing time or a position on the first team, don't play him at all after a couple of missed practices. Getting a guy game repetitions is one thing. But putting him among reserves - as possible punishment for being a malcontent - makes no sense for a guy who has missed significant time due to injury in his career.

Put him on the field with the players he's going to be playing with on opening night against Dallas.

Anything else is a waste of his talent and, yes, team objectives - if the objective is to win football games with the best possible players on the roster.

But if the goal to just humiliate the guy so he doesn't care and quits entirely, thereby making the $21 million bonus he received in the spring worth going after via litigation, what a bang-up job they're doing, no?

Is that what this is about - making Big Al so crazy he gives back the money? Because while first flunking and then passing a conditioning drill was good theater - and a little schaudenfreude felt good - this whole saga is bordering on very destructive to long-term goals.

"It was all right," Haynesworth said of his playing time Saturday night. "Third quarter, though? I'm a ninth-year pro. I don't think I should've been out there in the third quarter. But for having 'headaches' again, that's what they wanted to do."

Afterward, in the parking lot, he added, "I don't know what's going on, but I've never seen anything like this."

A more svelte and hungry Clinton Portis has fallen in line. Carlos Rogers is okay with his role. So much of the chaos and clutter of last season is gone. Albert is the final barrier between harmony and hell in Ashburn, and Shanahan is no closer to clearing that barrier than he was when Haynesworth told him he didn't want to play in the 3-4 defense months ago and, by the way, he was working out on his own.

Fat chance he will attend next year's voluntary workouts with teammates either, he just said.

The battle has escalated. Albert just fought back, blowing off some steam.

And as much My-Way Mike has the locker room and fan base behind him, at what point does he look around at the collateral damage this is causing his team?

And bite his lip, while saying to himself, "The hell with it, we're better with him than without him."

Any other conclusion just comes across as stubborn pride.

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