Ex-Bronco: 100% offseason attendance was Shanahan's standard

BOURBONNAIS, Ill.—After Albert Haynesworth’s knee flared up in Washington, it is impossible to tell when he will pass Mike Shanahan’s conditioning test and be cleared to join practice with the Redskins.

What is clear, though, is that Shanahan, in his first season as a vice president and coach of the franchise, is going to be unyielding in his demands with a player who did everything he could to extricate himself from the organization during the offseason.

One former Shanahan player – Chicago Bears tight end Desmond Clark – said he’s not surprised by the situation unfolding at Redskins Park. Clark spent the first three seasons of his career (1999 through 2001) playing for the Denver Broncos and Shanahan. As far as he knew, there was only one way to go about an offseason with Shanahan, and that was the coach’s way.

“When I was out in Denver we had almost 100 percent attendance in the offseason,” Clark told the National Football Post. “That was the standard. If you weren’t there 100 percent of the time, you were in the minority. I am talking the low minority. It was expected and guys just did it. I came in the year after John Elway and that is what everybody talked about, ‘John Elway was here 100 percent of the time.’ So everybody else had to be here 100 percent of the time.

“It wasn’t just the guys trying to make the team, I am talking about Rod Smith, Terrell Davis, all of those guys, the veteran linemen were there 100 percent of the time. That was the standard and I guess that is still his standard.

“You know what Shanahan used to tell us? ‘We ask for 16 hours of your time a week and if you can’t give us 16 hours of your time, then maybe you aren’t dedicated to this team.’ When you look at it like that: 16 hours, four hours a day, four days a week, that’s not too bad at all.”

As an observer from afar – and Clark tracks the NFL the best he can as he hosts his own weekly Internet radio program – it’s not a surprise that Shanahan has locked horns with Haynesworth from the get-go.

“I know one thing about Shanahan, he is not going to back down,” Clark said. “You’re going to do it the way that he wants you to do it.”

The situation from the perspective of Clark, a 12-year veteran, is that Haynesworth’s actions put all NFL players in a bad light given the fact that he received an enormous contract and doesn’t want to do what the majority of players do, thus creating big headlines.

“When they see him and a $100 million contract and they say, ‘What are you whining about?’” Clark said. “Now, Joe Public looks at all athletes and they say, ‘They make all of this money and they’re whining about not wanting to play in this defense.’ It does paint a negative picture of athletes in general because those are the stories that get reported all of the time. Those are the headline stories.

“You don’t see all of those stories about guys out here just wanting to make the team and doing anything they can to do that and not getting paid one percent of Haynesworth. They’re out here fighting, scratching and clawing trying to get it.”

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