Albert Haynesworth Saga: Are NFL Conditioning Tests Fair to Players?

Ryan CookFeatured ColumnistAugust 3, 2010

ASHBURN, VA - JULY 29:  Defensive lineman Albert Haynesworth #92 (R) walks with Defensive Coordinator Jim Haslett (L) after the Redskins first day of training camp on July 29, 2010 in Ashburn, Virginia.  (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Win McNamee/Getty Images

As if this offseason hasn't been filled with Albert Haynesworth dilemmas, once again we find ourselves staring straight at the face of the big man who, yet again, has another problem.

In case you've gone by blissfully unaware so far this past week, Albert Haynesworth has ultimately failed at one of the most important things every NFL player is expected to become accustomed to throughout his career: fitness.

Looking at Albert Haynesworth's 350-pound frame, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to realize the big man may not be the healthiest guy in the world. 

Notable for his nickname "Fat Al," Albert Haynesworth is one of the larger proportionate guys in football, and has gone through his career with quite a bit of luggage in the truck.

However, when it comes right down to it, Albert Haynesworth isn't the only big guy in the league.  For name's sake, Ray Lewis himself is quite a large athlete, but somehow manages to squeeze through fitness tests year in and year out.

So why has Big Al been singled out as an unfit player?  Sure, he's failed a handful of fitness tests and has had his stroke of controversy in the past two months, but like every player who strikes up a headline, there is normally a good reason behind such a saga.

Yes, fortunately for all of us, Albert Haynesworth is no exception. 

"And what is the reason?" I hear you ask.  It's simple...two words: Mike Shanahan.

For those who are unfamiliar with Mike Shanahan, let me break down his demeanor in one very simple word: Strict. 

Ask anyone, and they won't hesitate to tell you Mike Shanahan firmly implements a no-nonsense policy, and he frowns upon laziness and tardiness.

Therefore, go ahead and check all of the boxes, as Albert Haynesworth fits into all of these categories.

But perhaps the more alarming point of this story is Shanahan has taken on the old-school coaching role and has decided to make an example out of Albert Haynesworth.

For you see, the situation is simple.  Seeing as though Albert Haynesworth is yet to pass a conditioning test, this factor alone prevents Washington from moving forward in the positive direction they had hoped for.

Unfortunately for Albert, though, old-school Mike isn't prepared to turn a blind eye and let Albert Haynesworth join the roster after never having passed a fitness test.

Whether you believe this is fair or not is, of course, your own opinion.  Coming from a fan of the old school though, I personally commend Mike Shanahan for his firmness and control of the situation.

However, before we go ahead and give the old coach a barrage of high fives, one small thorn may still stick in the side of not only Mike Shanahan, but the entire Washington Redskins team in general.

Looking back to when Albert Haynesworth reached an agreement with Washington, everything seemed fine. 

Nowadays though, if Albert Haynesworth is unable to play for Washington due to fitness concerns, he may be left with a wad of cash and a question to ask the Redskins staff this season.

This, of course, may never happen, and the speculation could be as useful as a left-handed hammer.  But if it does occur, expect Albert to play his cards wisely, especially when a wad of cash is on the line.

So what about the conditioning tests?

I guess when it comes down to it, they are a little unfair.  Expecting a defensive tackle to run six 50-yard dashes in a short period of time is a little unfair, given Albert's weight and size.

Like the old saying goes, though, "take the good with the bad," and Albert Haynesworth may have to do just that.

Until this story blows over, which it definitely will, the progress being made in Washington has been delayed a little.  The team's focus is now on Albert Haynesworth, and for the most part, this whole incident has created unnecessary attention.

Fortunately for the Redskins, Albert hasn't pulled a Darrelle Revis and held out of training camp, even though many of us thought he would. 

Maybe some credit is due for Haynesworth; after all, he did try.  But until the day comes that he posts a healthy record, Mike Shanahan will follow him around like a bad smell.


Ryan Cook is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. He is also an NFL columnist for Real Sports Net and a Green Bay Packers writer for Fan Huddle and PackerChatters. Ryan is also a contributing writer for Detroit Lions Talk.  Don't forget to follow him on Twitter.