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Mike Shanahan is my kind of guy.
That’s not entirely accurate, so let me restate.
Mike Shanahan is my kind of leader.
It’s not that I like the Washington Redskins, the team Shanahan coaches.
For the record, I don’t particularly dislike the ‘Skins. In fact, I rank the Redskins right up there with cauliflower. I’m indifferent.
But I love the leadership lessons that Shanahan is giving to all of us.
He could not handle the Albert Haynesworth situation any better, in my view.
That’s because Shanahan is not trying to rehabilitate Haynesworth’s attitude or his work ethic (or his mysterious ailments, for that matter).
There is no happy ending to the ongoing drama between the head coach and the team’s premier down lineman.
No, this one ends with Haynesworth heading off to sunnier climes. That will happen prior to the opening of next year’s camp.
Shanahan feels no responsibility for getting the Redskins’ money’s worth from the $21 million bonus that was foolishly lavished on Haynesworth.
Nor should he.
Shanahan has no sense of duty to “give in” to Haynesworth’s gripes merely because some front office bean counter saw it wise to lavish scads of money on this man.
Nor should he.
Make no mistake about it. Shanahan’s torment of Haynesworth is not about Haynesworth.
It is about the other 52 men on the Redskin roster. And the guys on the practice squad.
And anyone else who might don the burgundy and gold under Shanahan’s watch.
You see, Shanahan is practicing a time-honored and time-tested technique of management.
That technique: Show ‘em who’s boss.
When Shanahan accepted the role of head coach, he knew that he was taking over a talented group of players which had never had its collective kneecaps smoked.
When taking over such a group, you need to quickly and firmly establish yourself as the alpha dog.
Should you take on an unassuming mantle and try to smack heads later on, your effectiveness is muted.
So, the quicker you show your tough side, the better.
You can take on the entire bunch, like they do in boot camp.
You can also take on an individual.
Shanahan chose the latter path, particularly because Haynesworth fit the bill perfectly. Here was a guy who had just gotten a ton of money, had shown no regard for his teammates (skipping pre-camp sessions) and had been vocal about his disdain for where he would be playing.
Shanahan must have thanked the Lord above for such an opportunity.
Certainly, he has made the most of it.
Any other current Redskins player who isn’t giving his full attention and full effort to Shanahan is either an um-dum or is certifiable.
Shanahan has taken on a potential bully and stuck his nose in the dirt.
And he continues to grind it. The fact that Shanahan kept Haynesworth in for nearly every defensive play of the ‘Skins’ final preseason game speaks volumes.
Sure, in the end Shanahan probably “loses” Haynesworth.
He’ll march off to a more accommodating environment while folks will bemoan the loss of the money.
But, it will be worth it, from a Washington perspective.
Every player who ever suits up for Shanahan will have the Albert Hayneworth situation in the back of his head.
My thinking is that the coach’s actions will pay off, in the long run.
You see, the Albert Haynesworth affair is not a tactical matter.
It is a strategic one. Shanahan is thinking long term in how he’s handling the big guy.
And as someone who cheers for another team, I’m worried.