It’s hard to believe that Albert Haynesworth’s Redskins tenure will wind up including just two seasons, and just 32 games. Well, 20 games, technically, since he missed four his first season and eight his next.
And yet, for only suiting up 20 times, Haynesworth sure leaves behind a lot of memorable highlights. In the “horrible aching pain in the gall bladder” sense of memorable. Before we say good-bye one final time, let’s take a quick look back.
10. Getting carted off the field. It would have been hard to imagine at the time that the team’s star free-agent acquisition needing motorized transport to get to the sidelines in his first month as a Redskin during an agonizing loss to the then-putrid Detroit Lions would only rank tenth on this list, but Albert has a tendency to over-achieve in these things. Still, veteran NFL watchers struggled to think of many times that prominent players took a ride to the sidelines due to cramps and then returned to the game. Not a great look.
9. The preseason rant. The 2010 preseason wasn’t Albert Haynesworth’s finest month — and more on that later, obviously — but an oft-forgotten lowlight came after a scrimmage against the Ravens.
“It was all right,” he said of his stint. “Third quarter, though? I’m a ninth-year pro. I don’t think I should’ve been out there in the third quarter. But for having ‘headaches’ again, that’s what they wanted to do.”
This was also the day Haynesworth pledged not to come to offseason workouts in 2011, and the day he told Mike Wise he threw up coming out of a hot tub.
8. Rhabdomyolysis. In a related story, that preseason rant led directly to several days of rhabdomyolysis talk. Mike Shanahan had said that Haynesworth was suffering from “more of a headache than anything else,” while anonymous sources cropped up saying it was actually rhabdo, which led to a scramble for medical experts to break this thing down. It all felt a tad ridiculous, which is one of the better words for the Haynesworth Era.
7. Teammate torture. Yes, hazing is a part of football. But this was weird. In 2008, Jim Zorn said he wouldn’t tolerate hazing of rookies. In 2009, Haynesworth had this sadistic grin on his face as he duct taped every rookie in sight, and then sprayed them with water. He was the clear ringleader, despite never having played a down with the team.
“I have a lot of experience doing it,” he told me. “We had to do our rookies right out at Tennessee, so I’m teaching my fellow brothers here with the Redskins how to do it. Plus, I’m from South Carolina. That’s not exactly where they filmed Deliverance, but close.”
Trust me, it was unbelievably odd.
6. He doesn’t like black girls. I’ll just use this as proxy for Haynesworth’s several off-the-field issues during his time in Washington. Whatever the ultimate legal resolution of the waitress sexual abuse thing, it was inevitable that stuff like this would be in the indictment:
According to the indictment, Haynesworth told a security guard, “I didn’t touch her” and that the waitress was “a little black girl” and he “doesn’t even like black girls.” Later, according to the indictment, Haynesworth told detectives “I know what this is about, she is just upset I have a white girlfriend. I couldn’t tell you the last time I dated a black girl. She was trying to get with me.”
Pure, unadulterated class, that guy.
5. The introductory press conference. Maybe this wasn’t extraordinary painful in the moment, but in retrospect, it’s pure agony. Or comedy. Laughter and tears, joy and suffering, lightness and weight. The money quote, so to speak:
“With the contract, it's going to be all on me,” he said. “What they want me to come here and do is play football and be disruptive, do what I do, so that’s what I've come here to do. When you get on the field, you're not thinking about dollar signs or anything like that, you're just going out there to play. It's a lot of money, but honestly, I put more pressure on myself than what the contract will do.
“I have such high standards for myself that, you know, [Snyder] can pay me half a billion dollars, and it still would have been the pressure I put on myself. I expect myself to play at a high level and to dominate. And if I’m not making plays, then people around me are making plays. As far as the number, I mean, yeah, it's great. It’s awesome, don’t get me wrong, but as far as the pressure, no.”
Such high standards, huh? Imagine if he had low standards for himself.
4. The Man Apart. If ever there was one image that showed what Haynesworth was doing to the 2010 team chemistry, this was it.
“I’m at a point in the game, I’m so focused I don’t want to be ‘coached’ right there,” he later explained. “Tell me if we’ve got a change [in strategy], or tell me if I bust something, but don't ‘coach’ me. You’ve got all week to coach me, don’t wait for Sunday to start coaching me, so I’ve never sat down and been in meetings or been on that little sideline bench thing or whatever. That’s just who I am and things I’ve done since I can remember.”
3. The Christmas Nightmare. As the token Washington Post Jew in our universe of Redskins coverage, I was in Ashburn on that lovely 2009 Christmas when Haynesworth showed up 20 minutes late, argued with Jim Zorn and then was sent home. I was also in the lobby when veteran players streamed through, obviously talking about their malcontented teammate. One prominent veteran, not seeing the media, was openly talking about how this was a problem that should have been dealt with earlier. Then, in a phone interview with Jason Reid, Haynesworth lashed out, saying he couldn’t survive another season in Greg Blache’s defensive scheme.
“If they keep this system the way it is, then they would label Albert Haynesworth a bust who didn’t live up to the contract” Haynesworth said. “Everybody would say he just took the money and ran off. And I’m still playing as hard as I possibly can. But you can only do so much within the system that’s put around you. And I’m not talking about the players. The players have been great. I couldn’t ask for any better guys. I'm talking about the system.”
This is pre-Shanahan, mind you, and on what should have been a quiet, uneventful day at the end of a nightmare season, everyone had to go into full-on Haynesworth alert mode.
2. Lay Lady Lay. This was, without any doubt, the worst on-field moment of the Haynesworth Era. It was abysmal.
1. The Conditioning Test. This, more than anything else, is how he’ll be remembered, how his era will be defined. He prompted millions of fans and media members to attempt a conditioning test, needed a potty break, exchanged words with his coach (“I guess you have never been in shape,” Shanahan reportedly said), played with garbage cans, and generally turned Shanahan’s first training camp into a month-long farce.
So fare thee well, Albert. May all your carts be mechanized, all your girlfriends be white, all your planking be off the field, and all your conditioning tests filled with copious bathroom opportunities..