Redskins Coach Mike Shanahan should be the bigger man in the Albert Haynesworth saga

Saturday, July 24, 2010

The benevolent people of Ashburn have already doled out $32 million of a guaranteed $41 million to the ingrate and, unfair as it may sound, now have to give more.

Don't misunderstand.

Given the past few months, if the Redskins tell Albert Haynesworth to hand-wash Colt Brennan's athletic supporter and hang it out to dry in the 400 section of FedEx Field on game day -- using the zigzag ramps, not the elevators -- he should feel honored and reach for the Woolite.

But that's not reality. The reality is they need to make this work. And the person who needs to compromise now might not be Big Al.

People close to Haynesworth have told The Post that the two-time All-Pro defensive lineman is in shape. They say he will report to camp on time next week. They also say he is still not happy about having to play nose tackle in a 3-4 defense. But he understands this is the hand dealt in a regime change, that he has no choice but to go back to work.

Mike Shanahan, your move.

The biggest wild card emerging days before Thursday's inaugural Camp Shanny is not whether a $100 million malcontent wants to be here. (Haynesworth has wanted out for months. If he could hold out and keep his money he probably would.) The game-changer is how Shanahan deals with the $100 million malcontent.

And if My-Way Mike knows what's good for him, he will bend.

He doesn't have to cave. He doesn't even have to meet Haynesworth halfway. But he needs to show he isn't just interested in making Haynesworth's life miserable in the steam and humidity of August in Ashburn.

No matter how furious Shanahan is over one of the most dominant defensive players in the game shunning offseason workouts -- after taking a $21 million bonus check on April 1 and then essentially separating from the organization as if he was in a bad marriage -- the coach has to put part of his effusive pride aside and realize the truth:

A hungry, healthy and apparently slimmed-down Albert makes the Redskins a much more formidable team, even if he doesn't like the position he's playing.

If Haynesworth lives up to his end of the collective bargaining agreement -- and with the exception of one mandatory practice missed last month, believe it or not he has -- Shanahan has to know that giving a 300 pound-plus wayward soul an honest opportunity at redemption is good for everyone.

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