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Albert Haynesworth must be let go by Redskins - now

By Thomas Boswell
Sunday, December 5, 2010; 11:43 PM

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J.

Albert Haynesworth must go. An excellent time frame would be: Now, immediately, this instant, the next train smokin'. But, as Dr. Seuss said of Marvin K. Mooney, "Just go. I don't care how."

Many in the Redskins organization, including several of the team's veteran leaders, are completely fed up with Haynesworth, his diva insubordination and the constant disruptions he causes. The cumulative damage of the Haynesworth farce is undermining all of Mike Shanahan's efforts to rebuild the Redskins disorganization.

The silly saga was on display once more here Sunday in a stunningly inept 31-7 loss. The Redskins said they were distracted by learning after they got to New Meadowlands Stadium that Haynesworth had been deactivated. Not because he was hurt, but, in essence, because Shanahan was so furious at his behavior all week.

Giants running backs arrived in the end zone untouched, lightly patted down, barely frisked. The Redskins' defense probably couldn't get itself hired by the TSA at La Guardia. They're too polite and non-invasive.

Could Haynesworth have helped the pathetic Redskins run defense that allowed 103 yards to Brandon Jacobs and 97 more to Ahmad Bradshaw? We'll never know. But this was certainly the perfect Albert game. The Giants were without three injured offensive linemen and two top wide receivers. With the Redskins at 5-6, clinging to remote playoff life, Haynesworth's 350 pounds could have had their greatest impact. Instead, Shanahan made his latest, loudest and maybe last statement: Albert, sit in the corner.

Ever since Shanahan was hired, Haynesworth has defied him. If Albert had a few defenders in the past, the number of players on his own team who are ready to roast him has now probably hit critical mass.

If Haynesworth ever plays another game for the Redskins, I'll be mildly surprised. I told four veteran Redskins leaders I planned to write that Haynesworth should be cut. I may have added something about using a shovel to remove a large steaming pile from the middle of their locker room. Tell me now: Am I wrong?

"Blast away," said a Pro Bowler. "Now you feel our pain."

Another Pro Bowler kept punching the air with his finger in approval, as if he were at a religious revival agreeing with the preacher as I ranted about how Haynesworth was a team killer who was antithetical to everything Shanahan was trying to accomplish.

A third Pro-Bowler shook his head and said: "Go ahead. I can't say anything. Someday I will. Man, I'd love to be in the room when he and Shanahan met."

However, the clearest illustration of the Haynesworth problem may not be a Pro Bowler or a player with a Redskins future but ancient Phillip Daniels, 37, who's had a fine 15-year career and, these days, is sick as a dog - but won't miss a practice, a meeting or a single down when the team needs him.

Linebacker London Fletcher made a long list of all the players, from Brian Orakpo and LaRon Landry to Donovan McNabb, who have played and practiced through injuries all season. But he underlined the name of Daniels.

Last Sunday, long after the Redskins had lost to the Vikings, Daniels was the last player in the locker room, too sick and exhausted to get out of his chair. He described how many places he ached, how he could barely sleep with chest and head congestion.

"How many Advil does a 6-foot-6, 310-pound guy have to take to get rid of a headache?" I joked.

"I only took two," he said. "Hey, maybe I should take more."

Though Daniels is no longer a standout, he's still valuable and knows practice is essential to the precise choreography of pro football. He stays sick because he keeps practicing. Is it smart? Who knows? But it's certainly football. It's surely the NFL. It's absolutely Shanahan. And, in a sport where you see 330-pound men who have to ask each other for help putting on their shirts and ties after games, it's a bonding through suffering that often goes with winning. If you don't like it, find another game.

The Redskins watch Albert and each week many seethe.

"Phillip was sick-sick this week," said linebacker Chris Wilson. "He showed up. He's a pro."

Haynesworth isn't a pro. Talk to Haynesworth and he's genial, hardly seems to know what the fuss is about. Hey, they promised I could play in the 4-3, then they switched. They went back on their word.

But, before the Redskins handed over a $20 million lump bonus to Haynesworth nine months ago, Shanahan asked him point blank whether, once he got the money, if he'd be on board with the program. Pockets straight, therefore, attitude tight.

Albert said, "Yes." But ever since, he's acted out "No."

In recent weeks, sympathy has flowed to Haynesworth in the wake of the accidental death of his brother. And he has, once he returned, played so well at times that he has put on film that he can still play. He's a force, if he chooses to be. That's his audition tape for his next team. But, once the Redskins were effectively removed from the playoff hunt last week, the problems started again.

In Albert World, what's in it for the big guy? Almost no one in the NFL thinks he'll be a Redskin next year. So, at the very point when Shanahan must find out which players will "buy in" at the worst of times, when the Redskins must play for pride and for their future, Albert has, to coin a phrase, "bought out."

"Shanahan is a hell of a coach," Daniels said. "I played against his Denver teams a lot. They have always been solid. No distractions, not always the greatest athletes but everybody on the same page. But he needs to get the right people in here for him to work with, all on the same page. Everybody has to do the right thing."

Instead, the Redskins spent the hours before the game talking about Haynesworth. "It was crazy," Daniels said. . . . Game day, you expect everybody to play. But you need to practice, too. . . . The way he practices, that's the way you're judged around here."

As in all feuds, both parties have a side. Haynesworth has a side. It's just not a good one. This isn't a 50-50 debate. From the day Haynesworth took that last $20 million and said "Yes," he's been on the short end of a 90-10 proposition.

Now, he's turned into a combination defensive tackle and fifth columnist. In the end, which may be soon, he's going to succeed in sulking, gold-bricking and undermining his way out of town. He'll keep the $36.5 million; at the moment, he's earned more than half-a-million-dollars per tackle for his two years. The decade-long Snyder nightmare will have one more chapter.

But some day, if Haynesworth ever grows up, he's probably going to wish he could relive this disaster.

Until then, Albert Haynesworth, just go. I don't care how.

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