Albert Haynesworth is just one of many (un)professional athletes whose careers have been marked or tainted by egotistical behavior, but he is definitely up there on the list.
Haynesworth's first question of character occurred in 2006 as a member of the Tennessee Titans, when he decided to attempt to stomp on Cowboys center Andre Gurode after removing Gurode's helmet. Haynesworth connected on his second stomp, sending Gurode to the team doctor for 30 stitches.
Titans coach Jeff Fisher was forced to apologize on behalf of the organization and Haynesworth got docked five games without pay (the longest suspension in NFL history for an on-field incident). Haynesworth should have been suspended for the remainder of the team's games as Gurode's injury could have been much more drastic than it was.
This was not not the first time that Haynesworth showed lack of on-field restraint. In 2003, Haynesworth began kicking his former team in the chest during Titans training camp. He had to be restrained by his teammates.
Haynesworth rebounded with a Pro Bowl season in 2007, helping to damper the memories of the stomping incident. He ended the season with six sacks, but what was most noticeable was his relentless presence as the coin of the defensive tackle position.
Haynesworth boosted his stats in 2008, with 8.5 sacks and increases in tackles/assisted tackles. He was a shoe-in for his second Pro Bowl selection and his worth became even more noticeable as the year went on. This all worked out quite well for Haynesworth, being that he was in a contract year.
As an unrestricted free agent going into the 2009 offseason, Haynesworth wasted no time, signing with the Washington Redskins to the tune of $100 million on the first day of free agency (February 7). The Redskins were expected to pay Haynesworth $32 million in his first 13 months, and $41 million guaranteed, along with incentives, potentially boosting his contract to $115 million.
When signing a free agent of Haynesworth's magnitute, it is important to ensure that the character of individual is of reliability and determination. In other words, it is about more than the money. This is the mistake that the Redskins made in guaranteeing Haynesworth such a hefty sum.
The Redskins defense seemed padded heading into the 2009 season, until their massive acquisition became a massive problem.
Haynesworth's numbers dipped dramatically in all categories in 2009, only recording four sacks and seemingly lacked the speed and discipline that made him a staple of the position in previous years. Haynesworth insisted that it was not that he was out of shape or lacking vivaciousness.
After a 45-12 Monday Night Football loss to the Giants, Haynesworth said that he could not, “Survive another season in this system if it stays the way it is,” that he needed to be allowed to “create havoc,” and that “if they keep this system the way it is is, then they would label Albert Haynesworth a bust who didn't live up to his contract.”
Haynesworth was sent home later that week for practice tardiness and claimed that coach Jim Zorn and the rest of the Redskins coaching staff used it as a reason to discipline him for his post-game comments.
The 2010 offseason brought a new coaching regime under Mike Shanahan, but the same old Albert.
Haynesworth skipped all offseason work in an attempt to defy the team's new 3-4 defensive methods. Haynesworth then showed up to training lighter, but failed the team's conditioning test multiple times. The essence of the tests were three 300-yard sprints to be run in a reasonable amount of time.
“The bottom line is we're going to get him into shape,” coach Shanahan has said. Haynesworth finally passed his conditioning test on August 7, but his head remains as big as ever.
After missing the first nine days of training camp, Haynesworth has been forced to practice with the backups in hope of getting him in shape for the season. Once again, Haynesworth has been interviewed by CSN Washington, saying that the Redskins have prevented him by playing on the first string as punishment for not participating in the offseason workouts, not because he is out of shape.
The list of Haynesworth's defiant episodes seems endless. In the past few years, he has successfully exposed his major character issues to anyone that will listen. The best choice for the Redskins might be moving the expensive problem elsewhere before the next issue arises.
Haynesworth is good at putting himself above his team and this season seems to be no different. Shanahan is a no-bull coach, which could force Haynesworth to wise up, or it might just contribute to the next disaster.
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