The circus — or more accurately, tunnel of terror-like — atmosphere surrounding the Washington Redskins continues to help churn out story after damning story as the organizational hierarchy continues to crumble under the weight of overbearing egos, infighting and overall dysfunction.
Things came to a head earlier this week when head coach Mike Shanahan announced that Robert Griffin III would be benched for the remainder of the season. This prompted speculation that Shanahan’s decision to insert Kirk Cousins as the starting quarterback was in effect an effort to create a showdown with Dan Snyder, perhaps in an attempt to prompt the owner to fire the beleaguered coach.
Others believe that Shanahan only benched RG3 because of performance issues and the franchise QB was not showing enough on the field to merit him holding on to the starting job.
Either way, it’s one hot mess in D.C. Players are chirping, RG3 reportedly is pissed, assistant coaches reportedly hope they are fired so they can be “put out of their misery.” The sordid tales depicting the dysfunction go on and on and on.
Former Redskins player Albert Haynesworth now has entered the fray. The defensive lineman, who signed a seven-year, $100 million free agent contract with the team in 2009, spent two tremendously unproductive and controversy-filled seasons — including a suspension handed down by the team and presumably orchestrated by Shanahan for “conduct detrimental to the team” — with the Redskins before being traded to the New England Patriots.
Haynesworth made an appearance on Tennessee Sports Radio on Thursday (audio here) during which he was asked if Snyder is too meddlesome of an owner.
His response was enlightening to say the least (via D.C. Sports Bog):
“No,” the former defensive tackle said. “You’re talking about with Shanahan? No. That’s another thing that I know of, when Shanahan signed his deal, he made it to where he has in his contract where [Snyder] can’t talk to players. He can only have short conversations, like, hey how are you, things like that. [Before Shanahan], I used to talk to Dan and tell him how I’m playing, or what I’m trying to do, or whatever. Not that he went down to the coaches or whatever and said anything; just kind of like a friend I’m having a conversation with.
“And once Shanahan got there, I could never even talk to [Snyder] again,” Haynesworth continued. “He was never in his office, or he was always busy. I always had to come back or something, which never amounted to me ever talking to him. I mean, the only time I talked to him or saw him was when my brother passed, and he was there for my family and flew us to Nashville and to South Carolina for my brother’s funeral. That was really the only time I seen Mr. Snyder.”
Granted, anything Haynesworth has to say about the Redskins needs to taken with a grain of salt as he has an axe to grind with both Shanahan and the organization and has the reputation of a malcontent. He and Shanahan engaged in a war of words earlier this season that began with Haynesworth saying Shanahan will hamper RG3’s development and culminated with Shanahan firing back at Haynesworth, saying:
“Let me put it this way: The only people I haven’t gotten along with since I’ve been a coach — a head coach, an assistant coach — is someone that’s lazy.
“So the people I look at, that come back and complain or do some of those things that you do when you don’t get along with someone, (they) usually fall into one of those couple of areas,” Shanahan went on. “Lazy, lack of passion and, a lot of times, a lack of character. And he fits all three.”
Bad blood certainly exists between Haynesworth and Shanahan. That needs to be noted. But if Haynesworth’s allegations are even remotely true, Snyder wanted Shanahan so badly as coach he was willing to relinquish an enormous amount of organizational authority. Not only that, he freely kowtowed to Shanny’s contractual demands. Perhaps Shanahan wields more power than previously believed, meaning that any attempt by Snyder to part ways with the coach may be a costly one at the minimum. Troublesome, aggravating and ultimately, a painful exercise to re-assume the power he lost? Without a doubt.