The big top this year has moved from New York to Tampa to Miami to Washington. The tent has remained in D.C. for nearly a week, and a guy who used to play there has given the circus another ring.
Appearing Thursday on Tennessee Sports Radio (via the Washington Post), Haynesworth said that coach Mike Shanahan’s contract includes a provision preventing owner Daniel Snyder from talking at length with players.
“[W]hen Shanahan signed his deal, he made it to where he has in his contract where [Snyder] can’t talk to players,” Haynesworth said. “He can only have short conversations, like, ‘Hey how are you.’ Things like that. I used to talk to Dan and tell him how I’m playing, or what I’m trying to do, or whatever. Not that he went down to the coaches or whatever and said anything; just kind of like a friend I’m having a conversation with.
“And once Shanahan got there, I could never even talk to [Snyder] again. He was never in his office, or he was always busy. I always had to come back or something, which never amounted to me ever talking to him. I mean, the only time I talked to him or saw him was when my brother passed, and he was there for my family and flew us to Nashville and to South Carolina for my brother’s funeral. That was really the only time I seen Mr. Snyder.”
While there could be plenty of other reasons for Snyder avoiding Haynesworth after Haynesworth’s first year in Washington, it wouldn’t be surprising to learn that Shanahan negotiated a term aimed at preventing Snyder from maintaining relationships with players that could undermine the coaching staff. Indeed, Shanahan had the leverage and the reason to get such a commitment.
As Rich Tandler of CSNWashington.com explained on Monday’s PFT Live, running back Clinton Portis relied at times on his friendship with Snyder to get out of practice when Jim Zorn was the coach. We’ve heard other stories of Portis disrespecting Zorn, and of Snyder doing nothing about it.
Snyder badly wanted to hire Shanahan. That gave Shanahan the power to ask for pretty much anything he wanted, including an agreement that Snyder wouldn’t buddy up to players.
If Haynesworth’s assessment is accurate, Shanahan may be holding more cards in this game of contract-buyout chicken than previously realized. At a time when Snyder reportedly is studying the contract for language that would support stiffing Shanahan, it’s possible that Snyder already has violated the deal via a relationship with Robert Griffin III that reportedly put Shanahan at the brink of resignation.