by Brad Biggs
December 26, 02009
Albert Haynesworth complained about the leadership with the Washington Redskins on Monday night after they were blown out at home by the Giants.
Three days later, he set out to do something about it, attempting to gather the locker room in protest to the time of Friday’s Christmas Day practice at Redskins Park. That is what multiple sources with knowledge of the situation told the National Football Post.
Haynesworth was sent home from practice Friday after he arrived at the facility more than an hour late. The club opted to go early and end work on the holiday as soon as possible so players and staff could be with their families. The day before, after complaining about the time of practice, Haynesworth encouraged other players to also show up late. That is what set off Friday’s series of events, including an animated on-field discussion with coach Jim Zorn. The problem for those players Haynesworth encouraged to follow along, of course, is they don’t have contracts with $41 million guaranteed like the prized free-agent signee.
It’s created an impossible position for Zorn, who is expected to be gone after the final two games. The Redskins host Dallas Sunday night at FedEx Field, and the last thing the organization needs at this point is national exposure on NBC.
What is not known is Haynesworth’s status for the game. Zorn told the Washington Post on Friday that Haynesworth would be permitted to participate in final preparations and would play against the Cowboys. Whether that means he will start or not is anyone’s best guess. Allowing Haynesworth to play would send the message that recruiting players to show up late is the kind of behavior that can fly in a locker room, however fractured the one the Redskins currently have. Fines to a player earning the kind of money Haynesworth is are inconsequential.
The bigger issue is Haynesworth isn’t the only one who was run against the program. Running back Clinton Portis has been a habitual problem for the franchise with sources saying he’s been given permission to miss meetings in order to receive massages, and that he’s declined to practice at times because it was too cold. These problems must be handled from the top.
Haynesworth’s frustration came to a head after the Giants humiliated Washington 45-12 on ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” when the club was hoping the arrival of vice president of football operations Bruce Allen would generate some positive buzz about the struggling team.
"I mean, the score, the record, they'd say that we're horrible, that we don't know how to play football," Haynesworth told the Washington Post. "But I've been around these guys a lot. I think they know how to play football. I think we're all just going different directions, and we need somebody to lead us in the right direction."
Reached by the Washington Post on Friday, Haynesworth complained about defensive coordinator Greg Blache and his unwillingness to adapt the scheme to his strengths.
“(I could not) survive another season in this system if it stays the way it is,” Haynesworth told the newspaper.
No one expects money to turn players into leaders, but big pay days are at least supposed to get players to buy into the system. Haynesworth, who has been hobbled of late by an ankle injury, doesn’t seem to be interested in doing that.
Blache has the respect of the club, and was pursued to return with Zorn after Joe Gibbs resigned. Pro Football Talk reported that Blache has interviewed to be the next head coach of the team, but he has denied that happened to sources. The point, though, is owner Dan Snyder has that kind of respect for Blache, that he might actually consider him for such a role.
How this situation with Haynesworth plays out will not only be interesting, but telling in regards to whether or not the club is ready to turn the corner. The Redskins need Haynesworth, who has 35 tackles and four sacks, to be a stud in the middle of their line. Certainly his presence has probably helped out rookie outside linebacker Brian Orapko. But the club also needs to have en established hierarchy and a way of doing business, and when upset players are allowed to make waves, it only sends the wrong message to the rest of the building.
The Redskins have been sending the wrong message on the field all season. Haynesworth’s attempt at reindeer games is the biggest issue to date.
Follow me on Twitter: BradBiggs