ASHBURN, Va. – On the day he signed his $100 million contract, Albert Haynesworth famously said: "You're not going to remember Albert Haynesworth as a bust."
On Wednesday, the Washington Redskins used a more scathing word to describe the two-time All Pro defensive tackle: selfish.
Haynesworth was a no-show at the Redskins mandatory minicamp Wednesday because he doesn't like the team's new defense, escalating a months long showdown with coach Mike Shanahan. Players responded with some of the harshest comments that can be directed at a teammate.
"Albert made a very selfish decision," said linebacker London Fletcher, the team's most respected veteran. "When you decide to play a team sport, you have to look at it and think about everybody involved in the situation. This is not golf, tennis, things like that, where it's an all-about-you sport. What he's decided to do is make a decision based on all-about-him."
Fletcher and others went further, painting a portrait of a player who has been self-centered since the day he joined the Redskins.
"It's no different than his attitude and approach to last year's defense," Fletcher said, "about wanting everything to revolve around him and him making plays. And if it didn't benefit him, he wasn't really willing to do it."
Meanwhile, Shanahan revealed that Haynesworth was given the option of freedom or money — and chose money. The coach said he told Haynesworth in February that the Redskins would agree to release him and let him go to another team — in exchange for not paying him a $21 million bonus due April 1.
"Obviously, he took the check," Shanahan said, "so I was surprised he wasn't here today. ... Don't take our check and then say that, hey, you don't want to be part of our organization."
The Redskins can fine Haynesworth up to $9,442 for missing the minicamp practice, hardly a dent in the money he's collected from the team for one season's worth of work. He been paid $32 million of the $41 million guaranteed in the seven-year, $100 million contract he signed as a free agent last year.
Ironically, Haynesworth missed a practice that lasted all of 15 minutes, with the players stretching and running 10 100-yard dashes before a thunderstorm cut the session short. The two-day minicamp wraps up Thursday.
Shanahan did not say what the Redskins will do next. They could release Haynesworth, try to trade him, look through the nooks and crannies of contract legalese to see if there's a way to get some of the bonus money back, or keep him on the roster and force another showdown when training camp opens July 29.
"We'll make some decisions here shortly," the coach said.
Having pocketed his money, Haynesworth simply wants out of Washington. He is unhappy that the Redskins are switching to a 3-4 defense and prefers a scheme that would allow him the type of freedom he had during his seven seasons with the Tennessee Titans. Hoping for a trade, he did not participate in the team's offseason conditioning program and skipped two voluntary minicamps.
Haynesworth's agent, Chad Speck, did not immediately respond to requests for comment Wednesday.
But Haynesworth's teammates were talking. And they made it clear that if he does show up for training camp, there will be fences to mend.
Defensive end Phillip Daniels: "I think I speak for every guy on this team: We all feel like he turned his back on us."
Center Casey Rabach: "It's getting to be selfish. He's hurting the team. It doesn't sit well with the players. ... You can't really count on him right now."
Fletcher: "There's ways he cannot be a Redskin: Give the money back. We'll move on without him. I want teammates who I can depend on, who I can count on, who in the fourth quarter I know is going to be there to make a play or do his job that the defense calls (for). We need people that we can depend on. And at the end of the day, right now, he's showing that he can't be depended upon. ... Last year we had a lot of selfishness that took place, and we got 4-12 out of that. This year, we can't have that."
Cornerback DeAngelo Hall, who spoke with Haynesworth for about an hour on the phone Tuesday night, was one of the few willing to publicly empathize with the disgruntled player, saying that "promises were made" about the way Haynesworth would be used when the contract was signed.
Still, even Hall conceded that Haynesworth is all about Haynesworth.
"We know Albert's going to do what he wants to do," Hall said, "whether it's going to benefit him, benefit the team, or if it's a stupid idea or a good idea, he's going to do what he's going to do. It's kind of hard to change his mind."