If the hardest thing to master in sports is excelling beyond expectations, and Albert Haynesworth is one of the Washington Redskins richest players given an enormous deal, then Fat Albert is the biggest disappointment in the league, wasting the coaching staff’s time, and even some of his impatient teammates’ time.
The latest installment of the Haynesworth circus is seemingly upon us, tearing down the team’s chemistry with all the unhappiness and absurdity floating around Redskins Park, absorbing all the attention for failing to pass his conditioning test. But he’s a spectator at the Big Al’s Circus, disgruntled and creating havoc.
Haynesworth missed the Redskins offseason conditioning program because he refused to play in a 3-4 formation, installed and mandated by coach Mike Shanahan, whose fallout with Fat Albert is getting uglier it seems.
What is unfortunate for the Redskins is owner Dan Snyder wasn’t hesitant in signing a dramatic Haynesworth to a richer deal in which he has already earned $32 million in his first 13 months at Washington, collecting large amount of paychecks, but have nothing to show in return.
In short, he’s turned out to be a bust. He probably is the worst signing in free agency ever, acting poorly with a franchise that is too compassionate in allowing him to dictate and inflict principles within an organization. As with the disastrous drama and feuding, both sides obviously aren’t reaching a consensus understanding. And as much as Shanahan nitpicks and ridicules Haynesworth because he’s out of shape and overweight, he suddenly pulled a switcheroo.
The storyline in the nation’s capital is the deriding of the oversized, lazy 350-pound defensive tackle, described as a harmless underweight. So this is the position the Redskins are in. This was the year the hapless franchise looked to revamp itself, aiming for grandiosity by putting the horrid past behind them and contending in the NFC East.
But when a veteran misses more than a half of the offseason workouts at team facilities, it escalates to further troubles. Haynesworth, discontent with the newly installed defensive scheme and upset with Shanahan, has been disqualified from practicing without passing the conditioning test.
And now, he’s rebuffing on accepting a rigorous task in training camp, selfishly giving up on the Skins, even when one of the most polarizing owners in sports paid an oversized, overly praised star that is quickly dropping as a fallen star.
In other words, he was never a sturdy defensive end, but rather a callous mercenary who is now willing to abandon the Redskins, and not pay the organization a dime for taking a risky gamble on someone with a history of conduct issues.
By the time the season begins, Shanahan won’t see much improvement or a huge difference in weight loss or watch Haynesworth complete two 300-yard shuttle sprints in 25-yard increments.
When Shanahan accepted the coaching job at Washington, he began building a foundation by demanding guidelines and positive character. But as an intolerant coach, he evidently won’t allow Haynesworth to be a detriment to the franchise or a distraction, during his regime.
Shanahan is on the verge of losing Haynesworth, the highest-paid defensive player in the league.
Even though he’s a prima-donna and a self-absorbed player, he still is the primary defensive star on the roster. Still, Shanahan is the man with the leverage and the loudest voice on the Redskins practice field.
There’s no telling what happened after he collected a $21 millon dollar signing bonus in the spring. But we all know, in his first attempt, he failed the test last Thursday and disrupted the drill for a bathroom break. In his second attempt, he failed the test and become a bigger distraction by the hour at training camp. And for the entire weekend, he never participated and sat out with a sore knee.
The Redskins are expecting a lot this season. Along with the acquisition of Pro Bowl quarterback Donovan McNabb, who needs to perform at the highest level, the Redskins also need the presence of a defensive tackle, such as Haynesworth to perform his best.
It’s not jarring that Snyder spent foolishly on a rebellious player known for dazzling on the national scene since 2006 as a member of the Tennessee Titans, trusting him to help the Redskins rise on the national stage next season.
Instead of toughing up the lousy franchise, the presence of Big Al could backfire in the face of Snyder. Washington won four games last season, and hasn’t won an NFC title since 1991 or advanced to the playoffs since 2007. With Haynesworth around, it isn't helping.
The point of the matter is that Haynesworth’s knee requires an MRI, and he’s expected to undergo one on his sore left knee when Redskins mandate it. In order to play, he will have to meet Shanahan’s standards by passing the test before stepping onto the practice field. For whatever reason, Shanahan believes he’s not in shape or fit, but Haynesworth seems firmed and muscular. For whatever reason, Shananhan expects much from a defensive tackle in a fitness test.
Oh, I know, he’s using him as an example and placing heavy burdens on the shoulder of his vital defender, even when he acknowledged that Haynesworth missed significant time of practice last season.
Shanahan calls it a “preventative measure.” But his philosophy is teaching the fundamentals and methods, by practice, practice and more practice.
Yes, it has been a dreadful period in the nation’s capital.
And it could only become worst without the presence or distractions of Haynesworth.
It’s a wild circus in town, and may turn uglier in mere minutes. Hey, hey, hey!