The League

Leonard Shapiro

Leonard Shapiro

Washington Post sports reporter, editor and columnist who has served on the NFL HOF Selection Committee.

A rocky marriage


Who's to blame for the Albert Haynesworth debacle?

Let us count the ways.

As with anything in the NFL, it all starts at the top, so let's point the first finger at team owner Daniel Snyder. Perhaps now he's finally learned that Big Money doesn't always produce Big Effort for Big Boy football players, especially with multi-millions already paid out in guaranteed money that doesn't always guarantee commitment and dedication.

You'd like to think that Haynesworth had a little pride and passion for the game, but it's clearly obvious by his performance on and off the field that he may not even like to play football. That's something Snyder and his former Yes Man, Vinny Cerrato, should have known when they threw all that cash at a player who had the potential to dominate, but not the will or the way.

But blaming Snyder and Cerrato is old news. Vinny is gone, and Snyder finally seems to have figured out that you need competent people in your front office to do the due diligence and make the proper decisions based on fact-based research, not knee jerk emotion. That's why lifer football man Bruce Allen now occupies a big office at Redskins Park and will stay there as long as Snyder keeps his finger out of the football pie.

Both Allen and no nonsense head coach Mike Shanahan came to Washington with the understanding that Snyder would stay hands off on the football decisions, save for breaking a tie every now and then just the way Jack Kent Cooke used to do when Bobby Beathard and Joe Gibbs agreed to disagree.

He also has told both men he will do whatever it takes to produce a winner, even if that means simply signing the checks, allowing them to borrow the plane during free agency and providing anything else they need to get the job done, including a little patience for what really is a massive rebuilding project of a broken franchise.

As for Haynesworth, all he needs to do is look into the mirror in the morning to understand what has gone terribly wrong here. Along with a moron agent who has done his client no favors, Haynesworth can only blame himself for the current sad state of affairs. One would think that with all that money in the bank, it would not be unreasonable for the team to expect him to take part in its offseason program, to show up for mini-camps and OTAs, to arrive at training camp in some semblance of football shape and to work like hell to fulfill what many always thought was Hall of Fame potential.

At this point, he's simply pathetic, a first ballot Hall of Shame selection.

And now the bigger question. Can or should this rocky marriage be saved?

At the moment, two weeks before the regular season opener, the Redskins don't have much choice. The only glimmer of light at the end of this tunnel is that at least Haynesworth seems to have a decent relationship with defensive coordinator Jim Haslett. Countless players in NFL history despised their head coaches, but still performed at high level.

Ask Sonny Jurgensen how he felt about George Allen.

Or Sam Huff about Allie Sherman.

They had hate-hate relationships, to put it plainly, but still played like the Hall of Famers they eventually became. Can Albert Haynesworth do the same? His recent history says probably not, but it's only August. Stay tuned.

By Leonard Shapiro  |  August 24, 2010; 12:45 AM ET  | Category:  Leonard Shapiro , NFL , Washington Redskins Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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