The Washington Redskins have long been the champions of the offseason, paying too much for big names in free agency. The story was the same when Albert Haynesworth hit the market and promptly signed a seven-year, $100 million deal with Washington. The man formerly regarded as the best defensive player in football has quickly become the biggest headache for the Redskins and the league at large.
Haynesworth is single-handedly setting a bad example for current and future NFL players.
If you look around the league, it has become the norm for players to hold out for bigger, better contracts. Chris Johnson and Darelle Revis wanted to be paid as the best players at their position, just as Haynesworth did before the 2009 season. While we have yet to see either Revis or Johnson make good on their promise to continue being the best at what they do, it is implied that they will.
Haynesworth went for the big money too, but has yet to follow through on the field the way his contract demands him to.
Haynesworth spent much of his first year in Washington flopping on the field, limping to the sideline, or being carted off for a multitude of ultimately minor bumps and bruises. This offseason, he made it known that he was not happy with the team's switch to the 3-4 defense, which move him into a a space-eating role instead of a havoc-wreaking role he prefers.
That was until he got his first taste of play in the preseason, to which he said, "It's different, but I like it. It's something I got to get used to. Other than that, it's going to be a good defense. It'll allow me to pass rush and everything like that, which is important to me."
Note the abuse of words like 'I' and 'me' his assessment of the switch. This is a man who is not a team player.
Haynesworth has made numerous remarks about wanting to be the best, but only if the situation suits him. He doesn't feel the 3-4 suits his style of play. Here's an idea: Put your supposed superior strength and skills to use in your new role and carve out a new legacy, rather than prove the critics right by acting like a spoiled child who only plays hard when he has to, or it benefits you the most.
The Redskins were trying to focus on new coach Mike Shanahan and the changes he would make on offense and the overall culture of the team. Haynesworth got a first-hand taste of the iron will of the two-time Super Bowl winning head coach.
After he skipped OTAs, voluntary team workouts held in the spring, Shanahan made it clear to Haynesworth that by taking his $21 million bonus that he would be making a promise to show up to the mandatory mini-camps and ultimately training camp.
Haynesworth took the money and opted to train away from the team despite the agreement. In that time, he dropped 35 pounds and looked fantastic when he strolled into the Redskins' training facility in Ashburn.
Upon arriving to training camp, he was made to pass Shanahan's conditioning test. The test consisted of two 300-yard shuttle runs to be completed in 70 seconds and 73 seconds with a three and a half minute break in between..
Haynesworth couldn't do it the first, second, or third time. The one time he technically completed the test, he took an extended bathroom break which took much longer than the allotted time. Some people tried to say that Haynesworth was being treated unfairly, that no other players had to take this test and that it was merely a power play by Shanahan.
Mike Golic, 46 years old and out of the NFL for 16 years, completed the test live. Fox reporter Lindsay Murphy was unable to complete the full test, but finished the first shuttle run in 68 seconds.
The reason Haynesworth was the only player to take the test was because he was the only player that didn't show up to any offseason activities, mandatory or otherwise.
Not to play the impressionable youth card, but with the right agent (Drew Rosenhaus) any player of any caliber can get a contract with a ton of guaranteed money and then cruise through their careers. Haynesworth was the best defensive lineman, arguably defensive player, in the NFL with the Titans in 2008. He recorded 51 tackles, 8.5 sacks and forced three fumbles. It was also his contract year.
If there is one thing everyone knows about Haynesworth it is that his motivation is money first and foremost.
In contrast, Brett Favre may be a diva for toying with the Vikings and the NFL with his retirement and unretirement, but he plays the game with the same intensity week in and week out. He will ultimately be remembered as one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history for his achievements on the field, regardless of his recent media antics.
Terrell Owens, the king of 'me first' may be a public moron for his driveway workouts and sideline blow-ups, but he brings it every week regardless of his role. He may cry for more catches, but when the ball starts coming his way, he doesn't whine about getting too many opportunities.
Haynesworth doesn't have one iota of the passion for football that Favre has or the intensity Owens plays with. He may hate the way he's being treated by Shanahan, but he brought it on himself for his performance last year and his overall attitude toward the team this offseason.
He can be quoted as saying he just wants to play football, but when he has yet to show that to anyone in Washington, least of all the coaching staff.
It may have created a rift between fans who want the big contract player on the field no matter what and fans who like Shanahan revamping the culture of the team. To the former I ask if they saw his play against the second stringers in the last two preseason games? His effort was pathetic and he showed no intensity or will to play the game.
Josh McDaniels may have parted with a lot of talent in Denver between Brandon Marshall and Jay Cutler, but at least players know that bad attitudes are not tolerated on his team.
Football is a game, but when you're making the kind of money Haynesworth is, football is a business. His recent body of work speaks to his desire to truly be the best he can be. He may not like his new role with Washington, but it isn't like the Redskins are asking him to be the battering ram on kick coverage. He isn't even being asked to be an exclusive nose tackle.
Adalius Thomas played linebacker, defensive end, some cornerback and safety for the Ravens. He didn't complain.
Haynesworth knows he won't get his sacks and tackles for losses, so he doesn't want to be the space-eater. Defensive coordinator Jim Haslett made it clear that Haynesworth would play some defensive end, and he would be allowed to create havoc as is his specialty. Haynesworth could care less about the function of his role. He knows he doesn't buy into it 100-percent.
Another example of his 'me' before 'we' approach to the game.
The number of players that won't get the chance to play in the NFL after college should despise Haynesworth for making the kind of money he is and displaying next to no interest in the game whatsoever.
I'd rather have the seventh-rounder who will give every ounce of blood, sweat and tears to the team over Haynesworth, despite his enormous talents.