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Snyder not culprit in Haynesworth mess

About the Author

Hub Arkush

harkush@pfwmedia.com
Publisher and editor

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Posted July 05, 2010 @ 3:30 p.m. ET
By Hub Arkush

It is difficult to feel sorry for Redskins owner Daniel Snyder. While he is far from the villain or bumbling boob of an owner that he is sometimes portrayed as in the media, he does own one of the bigger egos, if not the biggest, in a fraternity of 32 of the largest egos in the world. Snyder is actually to be complimented for turning his Redskins into the highest-grossing and one of the more profitable teams in the NFL. But it's hard to find another owner in the game who's been more responsible for his team's failures to compete due to his meddling in football decisions, about which he clearly has no clue.

From a washed-up Deion Sanders to a physically-unable-to-perform Adam Archuleta — with a Jeff George, Jeremiah Trotter and Brandon Lloyd among others sprinkled in between — in the 11 seasons since Snyder bought the team, the Redskins have continually thrown good money after bad at free agents whom almost no other team in the league would have paid half what Snyder lavished on them. Add to that the failed infatuations with legendary head coaches Marty Schottenheimer, Steve Spurrier and Joe Gibbs and the bizarre choice of Jim Zorn for the 2008 and '09 seasons, and what you get is a lost decade of Redskins football.

None of that, however, explains the current mess with Albert Haynesworth. At the time the Redskins signed him, he was arguably the most dominant physical presence in the NFL. I don't care how much teams pay their players because it's their money to do with as they choose. But a contract like Haynesworth's severely impacts a team's salary cap when there is one in place, its roster makeup in terms of how much it has left to spend on other players, and how his teammates feel about how much money he's making in relation to what he's contributing to the team. You are doomed to failure if you don't spend that money wisely.

Here's what the 'Skins and Snyder should have known about Haynesworth: In seven years in Tennessee, he had just one season in which he played all 16 games, went to two Pro Bowls, had a total of 24 sacks (including five seasons with three or fewer), and had six forced fumbles (including four seasons in which he had none). More significantly, they had to know that during the Titans' 2003 training camp, Haynesworth kicked teammate Justin Hartwig in the chest and had to be restrained, and in 2006 he intentionally stomped Cowboys C Andre Gurode's head while Gurode lay prone on the ground, barely missing his right eye while opening a gash that required 30 stitches to close. For that he was suspended five games.

How did Haynesworth's first year in Burgundy and Gold work out? For $32 million, the 'Skins got 12 games, four sacks and zero forced fumbles. And after a 45-12 Monday-night humiliation at the hands of the Giants, he complained he could never survive another season in defensive coordinator Greg Blache's system.

There are really no excuses for the Redskins' reckless investment in Haynes­worth. But doesn't Snyder deserve credit for saying enough is enough, bringing in Bruce Allen and Mike Shanahan to run his club, pledging to stay out of their way and giving Haynesworth the new scheme he asked for? Not according to King Albert. In fact, he feels so mistreated he has demanded a trade because the new scheme is not what he was promised when he took all that money. Of course, what he was promised is the scheme he told us last December he could never survive another season playing in.

That Snyder screwed this up is not a debatable point, but he's not the bad guy here. Someone in the NFL has to find a way to give Haynesworth two choices: Either shut up, stop embarrassing yourself and play football the way you can, or give the Redskins back the $32 million you've stolen from them thus far and go somewhere else and find a scheme you like — if there's anyone else in the NFL silly enough to have you.

 

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