Is Mike Shanahan Handling Albert Haynesworth Properly with Redskins?

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Is Mike Shanahan Handling Albert Haynesworth Properly with Redskins?
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

There are few things in sports that are more disappointing to fans than a player that turns his back on a team, asking to leave (exhibit A: LeBron James).

Equally troubling to fans, or more so, is a superstar athlete that makes more in a year than most fans will make their entire lives simply not giving it his all.

Albert Haynesworth unfortunately has done both, making him a pariah, although a talented one, to Redskin fans.

When Haynesworth signed his $100 million contract with the Redskins as a free agent in 2009, he was widely considered one of the most dominating defensive tackles in the NFL and gave hope to Redskin fans.

However, a dismal 4-12 record caused the team to fire Jim Zorn one day after the season ended and led to Mike Shanahan being hired as head coach.

Shanahan quickly set about remolding the team and brought in defensive specialist Jim Haslett, to whom he has given complete control of the defense.

During the offseason, the Redskin coaching staff announced that they would be shifting from a 4-3-based defensive system to a 3-4. This move is something that Haynesworth has been very opposed to, stating that the 3-4 scheme is not complementary to his skills.

Despite collecting almost a third of his front-loaded contract, $32 million, Haynesworth asked to be traded.

Soon it became apparent to both sides that a suitable trade could not be had, and Haynesworth slowly came to realize that he would be staying in Washington despite his trade demand.

Fast forward to Redskins training camp.

After softening his tough talk, Haynesworth has obviously started to realize that if he is going to continue to get paid, he will need to come to camp.

Shanahan, however, sees this as the first major test that he has faced as a coach and is using this situation to set an example to show the team not only that he is in control, but also how things will be run under his regime.

Shanahan has taken the opportunity to challenge Haynesworth and has told him that if he is to train with the team, he will need to pass a series of conditioning tests.

These tests are basically having Haynesworth run three 300-yard sprints.

Shanahan has justified making Haynesworth the only Redskin player needing to pass the test by saying that he had missed all of the Redskins' offseason conditioning and minicamps and therefore needed to pass the tests to insure he was in good enough shape to begin practicing with the rest of the team.

The problem is, Haynesworth has been unable to complete the set of three sprints and, after several failed attempts, has begun complaining of knee problems.

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Now, Shanahan is going to have to rethink the process of subjecting Haynesworth to passing his test in order to fully rejoin the squad.

The problem is, backing down from making Haynesworth pass the test will be perceived as Shanahan badgering Haynesworth for his trade demands—that the test was simply his way to gain retribution and set an example.

On the other hand, it can also be viewed that the minimum test standard that Shanahan has set was not that important to begin with; therefore, should it have been given in the first place?

Shanahan has also, through singling out Haynesworth, caused some people to look at Haynesworth as a sympathetic figure.

In some ways, Shanahan is causing himself to look heavy-handed in seeking vengeance from Haynesworth, who can then be viewed as simply stating his desire to be traded but who didn't actually criticize Shanahan or his coaching staff directly.

Whatever happens, it is unlikely that Haynesworth will actually ever complete Shanahan's required tests.

Therefore, this is starting to become a test of wills on some level. Shanahan is going to therefore either back down or end up hurting his team by not integrating Haynesworth into training camp, where he can start learning Haslett's new defensive system.

Either way, Shanahan's handling of this situation has turned on him.

Regardless of the outcome, Haynesworth will come out looking much better in a lot of people's eyes.

Shanahan, on the other hand, will come under increasing scrutiny over his handling of his first major crisis as Redskins coach.

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