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Haynesworth mess rotted Redskins from inside

by | CBSSports.com Columnist
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As the morality play that keeps on giving, the Albert Haynesworth/Mike Shanahan story is a beauty. Two men who hate each other, lashed together by circumstance and the outsized check that keeps them from fully detaching from each other.

Now who can't find that entertaining, even now as it enters, what, its 11th month?

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But the fear that they might be losing the audience must be gripping both men. Shanahan would like NFL Films to be on hand when they put Haynesworth in a weighted steamer trunk and drop him into Chesapeake Bay. Haynesworth would like NFL Films to capture the payment of the remainder of his money paid out bill by bill by Shanahan, no matter how many hours it takes.

I mean, you've seen the NFL Network. There's a serious need for programming over there.

But we know this will be resolved, and sooner than we'd all like. The spectacular backbiting, petulance, passive-aggressive posturing and general mine's-bigger-than-yours on both sides of this one has been a glory to behold, but its time is reaching an end. Everybody loses, which means that we all who don't care about Haynesworth, Shanahan, or the Redskins win.

There is, though, one more thing to accomplish before this saga reaches its predictable conclusion -- Haynesworth paid off to disappear into the woods -- and that is to put his name in the Redskins' Ring of Honor.

Not next to the Jurgensens and Huffs and Taylors and Baughs, mind you, but in a separate place where it can serve as a daily reminder to Shanahan, Dan Snyder and everyone else employed by the team.

The reminder: Money is cheap, getting rid of a bad situation quickly is forever.

Haynesworth becomes the most expensive lesson yet for the 'Skins. (US Presswire)  
Haynesworth becomes the most expensive lesson yet for the 'Skins. (US Presswire)  
The Haynesworth situation went on far too long, because willful men never want to give up a fight, and especially when the kind of money Haynesworth was due to be paid gets involved.

But sometimes a wise man recognizes a sunk cost when it's been buried, and Haynesworth should have been paid off and removed from the Redskins' employ a lot sooner than this.

Hindsight? Maybe, except for one thing. When you have a player who objects loudly and often that he isn't being used in the proper scheme by the coaches, you have a player that (a) doesn't want to be coached, and (b) will always find a reason why it's someone else's fault. This is an immutable truth, and always has been. In any other case, the guy who can't "get with the program" gets got, to quote Snoop Pearson.

But Haynesworth made too much money to be cut, so goes the wisdom, and Snyder thought and always has thought that if you put enough high-priced people together, good things will occur.

Well, he brought Shanahan and Haynesworth together, and the two got along like fireman and arsonists from Day One. It was at that point that Snyder should have been considering an exit strategy for one or the other, starting around Day Two.

Well, it's Day 337 now, and Haynesworth is still consuming far too much of the organization's time and focus, and another season has been lost. Too much dithering, too much trying to ram the triangular peg in the rhomboid hole, too much putting off the inevitable.

In all, a lesson the Redskins should have to embrace not only the day after Haynesworth finally leaves but for decades to come. Haynesworth's name, large and bold, inside the stadium and screaming out to all, "THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU LET A PROBLEM FESTER!"

Does this go too light on Haynesworth? Well, he does get his money for essentially doing nothing whatsoever, but that's the contract. He made the choice to destroy his reputation by going on strike, and his name becoming a joke is the best the Redskins can get in karmic payback -- his own ring of honor at his house, emblazoned with its own legend -- "I GOT PAID, BUT I STILL DISAPPEARED."

But the Redskins need the lesson rammed into their skulls, because they do this overpay-and-regret thing all the time. It's why their stunning mediocrity remains one of the true constants in the NFL. They will be rid of Haynesworth, but the lesson should endure in a way that they can never escape it:

Never put off until tomorrow a bribe for organizational peace of mind that needs to happen today.

Ray Ratto is a columnist for Comcast SportsNet Bay Area.
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