Albert Haynesworth: How to lose friends and alienate teammates
Thursday, June 17, 2010
Albert Haynesworth has been the vuvuzela of the Redskins' offseason, that annoying buzzing you can't get out of your head. Would he report for voluntary workouts? OTAs? Minicamps? Would he show up at mandatory minicamp in shape? What did his coach think? His teammates? The fans? The media? Betty White?
The buzzing reached World Cup levels Wednesday, when Haynesworth failed to report to mandatory minicamp in an apparent attempt to force a trade.
Big mistake. Until Wednesday, Haynesworth hadn't completely torched his bridges in Washington. Some fans were sympathetic to his anger at being moved to nose tackle, and some fans and teammates felt he was being unfairly criticized for failing to show up for activities that were, after all, voluntary.
But then he blew off Wednesday's mandatory workout, and afterward Coach Mike Shanahan, finally showing a little of the frustration he must have been feeling, revealed that the team had offered to let Haynesworth walk away if he could find a better situation.
In a classic carrot-and-stick scenario, the Redskins say they told Haynesworth's agent that if he could find a better situation for Haynesworth, they would release the reluctant defensive lineman. That's a big carrot. The catch: Haynesworth had to be gone by April 1, before a payment of $21 million came due.
"We told him, if you take that check, we expect you to be the best nose tackle in football," Shanahan said. "Obviously he took the check. He made the commitment to the Washington Redskins."
Now comes the stick. Shanahan wouldn't reveal what the team has planned for Haynesworth -- "we'll make some decisions shortly" -- but massages and aromatherapy candles seem unlikely.
Haynesworth may have picked the wrong coach with whom to play chicken. Shanahan hasn't spoken with Haynesworth himself since his introductory meeting with the players after his hiring -- ironically, the only voluntary activity Haynesworth has attended in the offseason. Has he tried to contact Haynesworth? "I'm here every day. I'm working every day. You want me to chase him around Miami?"
(Actually, yes, if only to see what Shanahan would do to him once he caught him. And let's face it: He'd catch him pretty quickly.)
I've had no sympathy for Haynesworth from the start of this saga, and I certainly have none now. He has had ample opportunity -- and 32 million reasons -- to make the arduous journey from Tennessee to Virginia to play at least one down under Jim Haslett's system before making up his mind he hates it.
"You don't know if you fit the scheme because you haven't been here," said London Fletcher, who was even more blunt in saying, "Albert made a very selfish decision."
"When you decide to play a team sport you have to look at everybody," Fletcher added. "He's made a decision that's all about him."
I also don't understand how Haynesworth and/or his agent, Chad Speck, decided that the way to make him more attractive to the rest of the NFL is to miss all but one day of 47 days' worth of voluntary activities, and then skip the only two mandatory days as well. Throw in his wonderful sense of irony -- "My number one goal has always been to help my team win -- period," said the statement he issued to explain why he was refusing to come anywhere near his team -- and his bloated, egregious mistake of a contract, and the Redskins will get fewer nibbles than Charles Manson's eHarmony profile.
And his agent isn't really helping, either, with vaguely threatening remarks: "He has made it clear to me that he does not want to play for the Washington Redskins. This situation will be a distraction to the Redskins and to Albert and his teammates. I am certain Mike and Bruce [Allen] want to get the most out of their first year, and it's probably in everyone's best interests for the Redskins to make a deal and trade Albert."
Haynesworth also tried to pin his unhappiness on lies told to him by "upper management." It's a move that might have worked for a different player, or from Haynesworth if he'd tried it several months ago. After all, the Redskins faithful are usually ready to blame owner Daniel Snyder and former GM Vinny Cerrato for everything from the oil spill in the Gulf to the death of Gary Coleman.
But from him, now, it smacks of desperation. Besides, surely Haynesworth realizes that change happens. Did he honestly believe Jim Zorn was going to file his Medicare papers from his desk at Redskins Park? Does he honestly not know who determines offensive and defensive schemes? Seriously?
I was in a cemetery on Memorial Day, watching the granddaughter of a friend elude capture by running from tombstone to tombstone, sitting down, crossing her arms, sticking out her lower lip and shouting, "Me mad!" I immediately thought of Haynesworth.
But he's not a precocious yet spoiled 3-year-old. It's just hard to tell the difference sometimes.