- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 1, 2009

Perhaps no one has suffered through this miserable Washington Redskins season more than the players, the ones who put in the time and work and end up with another loss more often than not. It also hasn’t been easy for those who have yet to suit up for a game and can only watch, sometimes from a distance.

Especially defensive end Renaldo Wynn.

Wynn believed he had seen just about everything during his 13-year NFL career. But that was before he was released by a team for the first time ever, re-signed, released again and again re-signed, all within 11 days last month. “You gotta laugh about it,” he said.

It wasn’t ha-ha funny, though.

“You go, ‘Man, this is weird,’ ” Wynn said.

Wynn has not dressed for a game all season. But his roller-coaster ride had more to do with punter Hunter Smith’s groin. Smith got hurt against Tampa Bay on Oct. 4, and the Redskins quickly signed Glenn Pakulak to take his place.

Someone from the 53-man roster had to go, and it was Wynn, 35, who started 64 games for the Redskins from 2002 to 2006. He rejoined the club as a free agent in March after playing with New Orleans and the New York Giants.

After missing the next game, against Carolina, Smith believed he might return the following week. Pakulak was released, and Wynn came back. But after Smith determined he couldn’t play against Kansas City, Pakulak returned. Wynn again got cut. He wasn’t exactly thrilled, but Smith, his former Notre Dame teammate, was even more upset.

“It’s really unfortunate,” said Smith, who has recovered and is punting again, allowing Wynn to rejoin the squad. “Renaldo has a great perspective on it, but every time it happened, I got all bent out of shape. I’d go over to him and have to apologize. And he says, ‘Don’t worry about it.’ He’s not losing any sleep or money.”

Wynn, personable and chatty, found Smith’s guilt trip amusing.

“I told Hunter, ‘Look, man, no apology needed. It has nothing to do you with you,’ ” he said. “He said, ‘I know. I’ll just feel better if I apologize.’ ”

Wynn said the coaches kept him informed throughout, assuring him he would come back - at some point - and that it was nothing personal. “He knows he’s part of our football team, and to do what we’re doing is only a product of the rules,” coach Jim Zorn said. “It’s not how we feel.”

Being inactive, even while on the roster, has been a strange and disconcerting experience for such a durable performer. From 2001, his last year in Jacksonville (which drafted him in 1997), through 2005, Wynn started 79 of 80 regular-season games. Even with the defending Super Bowl champion Giants last year, he played in every game.

“You’re at home and you’re thinking about the schedule, what the guys go through, as if you’re on the team,” he said. “It’s like always having a bye week. The second time, it was a crazy thing. We were at home. It was, like, a nasty day. I guess the positive is I didn’t have to take my daughter [9-year-old Kennedy] in the rain and go through all that stuff.”

While watching the Redskins lose to Kansas City, Wynn flipped through the channels during commercials and caught the Houston-Cincinnati game. He saw Bengals defensive end Antwan Odom, at the time tied for the NFL lead in sacks, carted off the field with a season-ending Achilles tendon injury. “All of a sudden, it was, ‘Man, that dude’s hurt,’ ” Wynn said.

Bengals coach Marvin Lewis was the Redskins’ defensive coordinator in 2002, so Wynn instantly wondered if he might get a call. Sure enough, the phone rang. It was his agent, Peter Schaffer. The Bengals were interested.

“You go through all this stuff,” Wynn said. “They might be a playoff contender or whatever the case may be. But you think about a lot of other things, things that might affect my family, my wife and daughter. You have to evaluate everything, all at one time: ‘OK, this could be a possibility.’ But all along you’re expecting to come back [to the Redskins].”

Wynn said he instructed Schaffer to tell the Bengals “to put something on the table.” But they stalled, and Wynn made an easy call. He would stay. “That was cool, too,” he said.

Wynn said he considered re-signing with the Giants during the offseason, but the Redskins made a good offer, he knew the system and, not least of all, he still owned his home in Ashburn, Va., near Redskin Park.

“I was paying for a mortgage that I wasn’t in,” he said. “It seemed like a win-win situation. Kind of a no-brainer.”

But the Redskins probably are deeper on the defensive line than anywhere else, forcing Wynn to the sideline. Yet he remains positive and tries to set a good example, ready for anything.

“My whole thing is, I’m a true professional,” he said. “I’m a Redskin, and you’ve got to stay focused because you never know what’s gonna happen. In this league, you never know when you’re called. I’ve seen when guys weren’t ready, young guys, they kind of get in this mode where [they think], ‘I’m not playing anyway. I’m not gonna prepare.’ And then all of a sudden they’re called, and boom, they’re not ready. … Yeah, it’s disappointing. But you can’t worry about things you can’t control.”

Amid the gloom, Zorn has noticed how Wynn conducts himself.

“I just appreciate him being able to do what he does, not be embarrassed about it, going about his business,” he said. “And we’re staying true to what we’ve told him. I hope we don’t have to do it again. It’s not a good part of the game, but it’s a necessity.”

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