(photo by Brian Murphy)
The big topic this week, as most fans of the Washington Redskins know by now, is Albert Haynesworth.
New head coach Mike Shanahan started the team’s offseason workout regimen last week and said from day one that, although the workouts were “voluntary,” he expected his leaders to be present.
Well, Haynesworth showed for the first day, listened to Shanahan’s first comments to the team and then was nowhere to be found after day one. Later we learned that Haynesworth had apparently committed to an individual workout regime with a trainer who helped him become one of the most dominant players in football back when he was with the Tennessee Titans.
“Last year I worked out with the Redskins and the year that we had wasn’t great by any means, very disappointed in my play and stuff like that, so I’m getting back to basics, what got me to be one of the top defensive guys in the NFL, and that’s what I plan on doing,” Haynesworth said during a radio appearance yesterday. “I told Mike, and he was like ‘Well, I wanted you to train with our guys and all that stuff.’
And I said ‘I totally respect that, but to get me back to where I want to be, I need the serious training, I need the stuff that got me where I’m at.’ We do a lot of specialized stuff. My trainer comes up with some great stuff that’s just for me, basically. Not just maybe a defensive lineman, but just for me, stuff that I can improve on to help me get stronger and things that help me focus better. Nothing against them or whatever, but I want to get back to being the best defensive tackle in the NFL, and I need to do this.”
Here’s the thing, maybe we have a different perspective because of our military background. Maybe concepts like loyalty and sacrificing for the good of the team mean more to us than it does to a “me-first” guy like Haynesworth.
But if our boss asks us, as one of the team leaders, to make sure we’re available for team workouts, then we’re going to be there. If we had previously committed to something else, we’ll quickly pick up the phone and cancel. It’s a new day with a new head coach, and Haynesworth owes it to Shanahan and friends to be a part of the team, not continue to be a hired assassin.
“My thing is, they pay me to play football,” Haynesworth said. “As long as I’m dominating and being that great player, then that’s all that matters. No matter how I get there, as long as they want me doing that, then that’s what matters.”
And that’s where the disconnect is. Haynesworth is only here to collect that paycheck. He doesn’t care about being a member of a team or doing what’s best for the organization. He’s only concerned about taking care of him and if that doesn’t work for anyone else, he couldn’t care less.
Some folks are going to look at Haynesworth’s explanation, hear him admit he wasn’t in ideal shape a year ago and begrudgingly give Albert a pass on this. But it’s not about the workouts. It’s about being there day in and day out as Shanahan, along with Redskins general manager Bruce Allen, rebuild this entire franchise from the ground up. If they ask you to be there, you need to be there.
Because Jim Zorn and Vinny Cerrato were so woefully in over their heads, there’s a lot of work to be done at Redskins Park. The quicker everyone within the organization buys into what the new guys are selling, the quicker this team can return to respectability. If you’ve already made plans to be elsewhere, then you owe it to your new bosses to free up your schedule and set an example – especially if you’re cashing checks every two weeks on a $100-million contract.
That kind of money doesn’t give a player the right to do whatever the hell he’d like six days out of the week as long as he performs on Sundays. No, when you’re the highest-paid player in that locker room, like it or not, the rest of the players in that room are going to pay attention to everything you do.
If you’re a team player who is willing to make personal sacrifices for the betterment of the Washington Redskins you can bet others will follow suit. Likewise, if you turn your back after one day to go off and do your own thing, the rest of the locker room will also notice.
If Haynesworth truly believes these workouts really are the missing link to return him to the league’s elite, then he should have figured out a way to do both. Hell, fly this magical trainer in, have him talk to the team’s trainers to see what program they have for Haynesworth and then he can customize his plan from there. Work smarter, not harder.
But like we said earlier, this has nothing to do with the offseason workouts. This is simply Haynesworth sending a message to the Redskins that he’ll only play along when he feels like it. He’ll be a Redskin only if he feels he can benefit from it. Otherwise, Haynesworth is happy to be an individual, even if he’s letting down 52 other men in the process.
[Update: Turns out Haynesworth also used his personal trainer last year when, you know, he was on the ground once a game because he was too tired to walk to the sideline.]