The Albert Haynesworth saga has gone to the next level.
The Washington Redskins suspended Haynesworth, the NFL's highest-paid defensive player, without pay for the next four games for conduct detrimental to the team, the club announced Tuesday. A statement released by the Redskins said the team informed Haynesworth of the decision earlier in the day.
The move comes two days after the Redskins deactivated Haynesworth for Sunday's game against the NFC East rival New York Giants. Haynesworth did not practice two days leading up to the game, reportedly for being sick. Apparently, Washington coach Mike Shanahan didn't buy the excuse and had enough of Haynesworth and his distractions.
It was time to make a statement, literally and figuratively.
"Despite the club's numerous attempts to persuade Albert Haynesworth to abide by terms of his contract, he has repeatedly refused to cooperate with our coaching staff in a variety of ways over an extended period of time," Shanahan, in a prepared statement, said of the former NFL Defensive Player of the Year, who signed a five-year, $100 million contract in March 2009 to jump from the Tennessee Titans.
"Among other things, he has consistently indicated to our defensive coaches that he refuses to play our base defense or on first-down or second-down nickel situations. He has also refused to follow the instructions of our coaches both during weekly practices and actual games as well."
The latest incident involved Redskins general manager Bruce Allen.
"Yesterday, when Albert was at Redskins Park, he told our General Manager Bruce Allen that he would no longer speak with me," Shanahan's statement continued. "Although suspending any player is not a decision that a head coach enters into lightly, I believe the situation has reached the point where the club clearly has no alternative."
Expect an equally terse comment from Haynesworth, who told The Washington Post there were no truths to reports that he missed Friday's walk-through because he was hungover from being out late the night before.
"I was not hungover," Haynesworth said in a phone interview. "I mean, I did go out, but when I started feeling bad I went home. I mean, I go out every Thursday or so. ... Just because somebody goes out, that doesn't mean I'm out drinking and getting drunk. I've been in this game for nine years and been single, or without a wife, for a lot of that time. The bottom line is, I wasn't hung over or anything like that. I want to make that clear."
The NFL Players Association, sources told FanHouse, intends to fight the suspension on Haynesworth's behalf.
Shanahan and Haynesworth have been at odds since the 6-foot-7, 350-pounder told the team he would boycott all offseason workouts because he did not want to play in the 3-4 scheme Shanahan and new defensive coordinator Jim Haslett brought with them when joining the Redskins last January.
When Haynesworth finally reported for work at training camp in July, Shanahan ordered Haynesworth to undergo a conditioning test that he failed several times before passing and being allowed to practice with the team.
In October, Haynesworth was excused from the team following the death of a half-brother in a motorcycle accident. Shanahan, though, wasn't pleased that Haynesworth took an extra two days after the funeral before returning to the team and deactivated him for a nationally televised game against the Indianapolis Colts.
On the field, Haynesworth has shown flashes of magnificence and laziness, with 16 tackles and 2.5 sacks in eight games.
"I just wish that the team could stay focused and not worry about things like this," veteran defensive lineman Phillip Daniels told The Post. "When I come to the locker room on game day, I expect guys to be ready to go and play. I don't expect to get a surprise on game day that [someone's] not playing ... We need to move forward, man, and the only way this team's going to move forward is get stuff like this out the way, and we all can focus and do the things we need to do on game day."