Albert Haynesworth thinks Mike Shanahan is "conniving." Shanahan thinks his former $100 million defensive tackle is "lazy." And the Washington Redskins are left with yet another off-the-field distraction in what has already been a tumultuous 2013 season.
Meeting with reporters after Thursday's practice, Shanahan, whose banter with the media is usually minimal, unleashed a series of uncharacteristically pointed comments at Haynesworth.
"When you don't get along with somebody as a head coach, or assistant coach," Shanahan said, via ESPN's John Keim, "it usually falls under one of those couple areas: lazy, lack of passion and a lot of times lack of character. And, uh, he fits all three."
Haynesworth played under Shanahan for one season in 2010, Shanahan's first with the Redskins. Both men famously struggled to find common ground together, and Haynesworth has not been shy about his displeasure with Shanahan since leaving Washington.
Shanahan was responding to Haynesworth's latest disparaging comments, which the 32-year-old defensive tackle made on a Tennessee radio station this week. Wishing Robert Griffin III luck winning with his "conniving" coach, Haynesworth claimed Shanahan was more interested in extolling his own virtues than backing them up:
Great coach. Yeah. I mean, that's what he came in, the very first meeting, he came in saying I'm a great coach, I know how to win, I've won 25 championships. I'm like, 25 championships? Then I go back and look, and I was like you haven't won a freaking playoff game since [John] Elway retired. How come Elway comes back after Shanahan gets fired? Kind of weird. I mean, the guy is all me, me, me. Sorry to say that.
It was clear on Thursday that Shanahan had enough. Calling Haynesworth "lazy" multiple times and restarting his thought to emphasize the point, Shanahan made sure the media knew he was tired of being villainized.
"You usually take the high road as much as you can, and I usually do," Shanahan said. "But he's been talking quite a bit over the last couple years so I thought I'd be honest and tell you how I feel."
Haynesworth was one of the final major splashes by Shanahan and general manager Bruce Allen's predecessors. The Redskins signed Haynesworth, coming off a season in which he had made his second straight All-Pro team, to a seven-year, $100 million contract to anchor their defense.
Expected to come in and wreak havoc on opposing offenses, Haynesworth instead became the latest high-priced bust acquisitions in Washington, a long list that includes greats like Deion Sanders, Bruce Smith and Donovan McNabb.
Haynesworth recorded only four sacks in his first season in Washington, clashing with the coaching staff and ripping then-defensive coordinator Greg Blache's scheme. Even after Blache and the rest of Jim Zorn's coaching staff was sent packing, Haynesworth quickly began a second feud with Shanahan. The two engaged in a preseason war of words that left the defensive tackle essentially obsolete in the Redskins defense, and he recorded 2.5 sacks in eight games before being deactivated.
The Redskins, who went 6-10 in Shanahan's first season, then traded Haynesworth to the New England Patriots the subsequent offseason. Haynesworth lasted only six games in New England before being released. He then played seven games with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to cap off the 2011 campaign.
No team has signed Haynesworth since Tampa Bay cut him in the spring of 2012.
Shanahan's Redskins are preparing to host the San Diego Chargers at FedEx Field in Week 9. A year after winning the NFC East, Washington heads into the game with a 2-5 record and having already faced tons of criticism toward its head coach—mostly related to his treatment of Griffin's knee injury.
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