ASHBURN, Va. (AP) - Mike Shanahan leveled a scathing critique at Albert Haynesworth on Thursday, saying the former Redskins defensive lineman was ''lazy'' and had a ''lack of passion'' and ''lack of character.''
The Washington Redskins coach was responding to comments made this week by Haynesworth, who told Tennessee Sports Radio that Shanahan is ''conniving,'' self-centered and will run quarterback Robert Griffin III ''into the ground.''
Asked for his reaction, Shanahan began his answer and then stopped himself and started over - because he wanted to ''say it the right way.''
Then he hammered home a zinger.
''When you don't get along with somebody as a head coach or an assistant coach, it usually falls into one of those areas - lazy, lack of passion, and a lot of times lack of character,'' Shanahan said. ''And he fits all three.''
Haynesworth signed a $100 million free agent contract with the Redskins in 2009, but he and Shanahan clashed frequently after the coach arrived in Washington a year later. Haynesworth became an NFL punch line when he needed 10 days to pass a conditioning test at the start of training camp and lost his starting job. He was eventually traded for a fifth-round draft pick and is perhaps the biggest free agent bust in league history.
The latest back-and-forth began when recently retired Redskins tight end Chris Cooley, who now has his own radio show, called Haynesworth ''an awful human being.'' Haynesworth then went on the radio to say that Cooley ''sounds as stupid as he looks'' and then went after Shanahan, pointing out the coach's lack of success in the playoffs with the Denver Broncos after John Elway retired.
''He's conniving and everything like that. ... I mean, the guy is all `me, me, me.' ... They're always going to try to blame RG3 for something,'' Haynesworth said. ''It's never going to be the head coach's fault. Ever.''
It's unusual for Shanahan to respond to such vitriol from a former player, but this time he did so with a smile.
''You usually take the high road as much as you can, I usually do,'' Shanahan said. ''But he's been talking quite a bit, over the last couple of years, so I thought at least I'd be honest with you guys and tell you how I feel.''
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org
Follow Joseph White on Twitter: http://twitter.com/JGWhiteAP