Albert Haynesworth is a slackadaisical bumbler who has failed all four tests administered to him since the new regime came to Ashburn: He bailed on the offseason program which was always more about commitment than it was about conditioning; he showed up to camp out of shape and let himself become the story; he failed to take care of himself once he was cleared to practice, becoming dehydrated and ill and missing more practice; and finally he failed to keep dirty laundry in house, instead choosing to present himself as victim of a cruel conspiracy.
Behind that global conspiracy for Albert domination is Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan, one of the hardest men in football, a man who nearly died on the football field, the man that ended Jerry Rice's career because he would not give Jerry a lifetime achievement award, a coach that has scripted and evaluated the team's every step since he took over and lives by the rule that good players make practice and vice versa.
Albert is in so far over his head he may never get out with this team, even if he stays and plays all
sixteen twelve games he may always be that guy with the look on his face that says what did I do this time. Because he is just not very football smart. Here is how things go on this football team:
1. Mike Shanahan has little sympathy for medical conditions brought on by being out of football shape. Rhabdomyolysis is a condition typically brought on by dehydration and muscle trauma, both of which would be present in an out of shape athlete engaging in intense activity at the height of summer. The hilarious thing is, how the hell can Albert possibly have been dehydrated with as little practice as he had? He missed the first ten days and thirteen practice sessions, only working out for a week before falling ill, if he got strained and dried out working out that little then one would have to look at Albert as borderline not physically qualified to play a full game of football.
You could hear the butthurt in Albert's self abuse postgame tirade Saturday night: air quotes, telling reporters that his condition was worse that reported, he even frew up one time and the team held back to make him look like he was not really ill, just unmotivated. And he frew up, did I mention that?
2. Mike Shanahan has no sympathy for players that play victim. In Albert's mind this is all payback for his missing the offseason program, in reality this is not the case, the other players learned the basics and established a trust and comraderie in that program that is simply not there with Albert, so when he struggles to keep up and sees no one else falling behind he thinks he is being singled out. It is like skipping the first month of classes and then asking the professor to start from the beginning.
This is about the team and not about Albert and every moment he wallows in self pity is a moment he is not thinking about the team because the team will achieve a final record this season, not Albert. Coach Shanahan does not speak whinese.
3. Mike Shanahan wants players to earn their spot on the field and work every day to keep it. There are no entitlements on this team, look how quickly coach Shanahan moved to set up a challenge for tailback Clinton Portis with Larry Johnson and Willie Parker, for my part I wish Brian Westbrook had come to this team for that very reason. Albert thinks, regardless of performance that he deserves to be on the field with the starters, that at his years of service, contract size, former Pro Bowl status, whatever, he should not be playing with second string players.
The bad news for Albert, and in fact the real worst case scenario for Albert this season, is that he is not playing above second string. He is out of shape and got ill from it, does not practice much and wants to cruise on his name. That will not be the case for this team, Albert will get to play in the spot he has earned, I do not subscribe to the philosophy of Mike Wise at the Washington Post who wrote that whatever playing time Albert gets should be with the starter because that is where he will be playing.
In fact I think the opposite, if Albert never becomes a first string player on this team, defined by practicing hard and well and staying in football shape, then he should never displace a player with perhaps less god given talent and more heart and a stronger work ethic yielding better results.
Meanwhile back on earth Albert's teammates are doing the right thing, saying the whole thing is a distraction and it is time to move on, because they want to do what Albert did not, which is keep matters in house. The fans are pretty pissed and at least one longtime local writer is calling for the team to cut Albert outright, bonus Jeff George reference by the way.
For my part the team should get rid of him before the season starts or else the whole thing will cast a shadow, combine this easy to predict hassle with the inevitable injuries, challenges and stumbles for an old team with new leadership and you have a recipe for disappointment.
We are past the stability point, things are not going to get better with Albert, he has already escalated to the maximum with a promise that he will not be in town next offseason for the program either (op. cit.), that he will be taking care of himself and feeling good about himself. The team should cut him outright or ship him off for the best pick they can get the moment some other team's starting defensive tackle goes down for the season.
Ben Folsom has a Don Draper complex and is the editor of The Curly R, a blog covering the Redskins and the NFL since 2006. The Folsom Point appears Tuesdays at Hogs Haven.