Former Washington Redskins player Albert Haynesworth said on social media Wednesday that he recently suffered kidney failure. The 38-year-old Tennessee resident shared a photo of himself in a hospital bed and pleaded for a donor.
Since posting the photo, the Vanderbilt University Medical Center has received "hundreds of calls and offers for organ donation from well-wishers and individuals expressing interest,” said the medical center’s chief communications officer, John Howser, in a statement first reported by the Knoxville News Sentinel. Haynesworth’s post, which includes the medical center’s phone number, has generated more than 6,600 likes and hundreds of comments.
Saying that he had been “battling kidney disease for a few years now,” Haynesworth described himself as in “dire need” of a new one, as of Sunday. He said his doctors told him he should “reach out to my family, friends and fans,” and that he was “asking for someone to generously donate a kidney.”
Noting that he suffered brain aneurysms in 2014, Haynesworth said in his post, “It’s hard to believe from being a professional athlete to only 8 season in retirement that my body has taken another major blow.”
A star at the University of Tennessee, Haynesworth was twice a first-team all-pro selection during seven seasons with the Tennessee Titans, who made him the 15th overall pick in the 2002 draft. As a free agent in 2009, he signed a mammoth contract with the Redskins worth $100 million over seven years, with a record $41 million in guarantees and performance incentives that could have added as much as another $15 million.
Suffice it to say that Haynesworth did not appear properly incentivized during his stay in Washington. He lasted just two years with the team, a span marked by clashes with coaches, legal issues and accusations of apathy, before he was traded to the New England Patriots for a fifth-round draft pick.
The 6-foot-6, 335-pound lineman did not make it through the 2011 season with the Patriots. He was placed on waivers after reportedly getting into a sideline confrontation with assistant coach Pepper Johnson. Haynesworth was then quickly picked up by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but they released him the following spring, effectively ending his NFL career.
In a 2015 “Letter to My Younger Self” published by the Players’ Tribune, Haynesworth wrote: “If nothing else, listen to me on this, Albert: Do not leave the Tennessee Titans. … The $100 million will become a huge burden. Take less and stay in Tennessee where you belong.”
Over his 10-year career, Haynesworth had 347 tackles, 30 1/2 sacks and six forced fumbles.
He said in 2015 that he was suffering from cognitive issues, and that doctors told him they couldn’t be certain whether brain injuries he suffered while playing football contributed to those problems or to his aneurysms.
“I don’t want to blame it on football,” Haynesworth said at the time, “and I don’t want to say, ‘Hey, it didn’t have anything to do with it.’ ”