The 2009 Washington Redskins couldn’t even get through Christmas Day without controversy.
Defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth, the team’s highest-paid player, was late to Friday’s team meetings and was sent home before practice after a lengthy discussion with coach Jim Zorn on a field adjacent to where the rest of the team was going through warmups.
“I sent Albert home for disciplinary reasons,” Zorn said. “I think all that will be kept between Albert and I. He wasn’t belligerent or nasty to me and I was not nasty to him. It was just something that needed to be done. It was a difference in logic maybe and differences of priority.”
This was Zorn’s first experience with such discipline during his two years as coach.
“It was necessary,” Zorn said. “It’s not unique to me. It happens around the NFL. I see those things handled all the time. Hopefully I’m handling things in a proper way.”
Zorn said he hadn’t explained the situation to the rest of the players, but they couldn’t help but notice.
“It’s like a circus around here,” said one veteran player. “It’s always something, even on Christmas.”
Another said the incident was the latest episode of “As The Redskins Turn.”
On a more serious note, a veteran recalled that Haynesworth had publicly questioned the team’s leadership after Monday’s embarassing 45-12 loss to the New York Giants, saying, “I just think we’re all going in different directions and we need somebody to lead us in the right direction.”
Shaking his head, the teammate said, “And then Albert goes and does this.”
Zorn said that Haynesworth, who signed a seven-year, $100 million contract with Washington in the first hours of free agency on Feb. 27 after two All-Pro years with the Tennessee Titans, will rejoin the Redskins for Saturday’s walkthrough and will play in Sunday’s home finale against the Dallas Cowboys.
This is not the first incident for Haynesworth, who has a seven-year, $100 million contract with $41 million guaranteed. He infamously stomped on the bare head of Dallas center Andre Gurode in 2006. His wife requested a restraining order against him in October in the wake of a battle over child support and alimony. And Haynesworth is being sued by a Nashville man, who was injured in a car crash last December in which Haynesworth was cited for speeding.
Haynesworth was limited in Thursday’s practice with a leg injury. Zorn said he felt better on Friday. He’s officially questionable for Sunday’s game.
— David Elfin