He thinks it's all a game
Redskins defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth found every reason not to come hang out with his football team, even after they paid him more than 30 million dollars to. Finally with a mandatory minicamp upon us, Albert revealed his devious plan: keep the money and demand a trade MWAHAHAHAHAAA. What he does not realize is now the guys on the other side of the table are grownups. The Curly R's two part series on the Albert Haynesworth trainwreck concludes.
Part One: You Hurt My Feelings and Besides I Already Have the Money
Part Two: Under New Management
Let us set things straight here from the outset: Fans would be pissed off at this situation no matter the year, no matter the coach, no matter the player. Sean Gilbert, Dana Stubblefield, Deion Sanders and more recently Brandon Lloyd, Adam Archuleta and even Clinton Portis have all felt the sting of Redskins fans turning on them. The fact that the team decision makers behind these fiascos were mostly incompetent was and always will be beside the point.
Now that we have that straight we can examine the Albert Haynesworth situation through the lens of Washington's new management team, an executive group that had nothing to do with Albert's signing in the 2009 offseason:
1. Albert and his contract can be hung right around the neck of former shadow general manager Vinny Cerrato. Even if was entirely Dan Snyder's doing, new actual general manager Bruce Allen and head coach Mike Shanahan have a disappeared and plausible scapegoat at the ready.
2. Mike Shanahan is thick in the new sheriff in town portion of his tenure, he was out of football for a year after losing a struggle over power in Denver and he is heavily invested in the Redskins job as vehicle to demonstrate to the football world that he is competent to the highest levels of football authority. Vague threats from Albert's agent are only going to get coach Shanahan's dander up, I bet you he is already working on his who the fuck do you think you are dealing with speech.
3. In February, before Albert was due his big check on 1 April, the team pushed back from the table in the run up to the 21 million dollar bonus he got that day and told Albert and his agent the team would release Albert if Team Albert could another club to sign with, presumably that new team would assume part or all of the 1 April bonus. They could not and I suspect that was less because of interest or lack thereof by other teams and more due to the demotivating presence of such a large guaranteed check, my guess would be that couple calls were made then they said fuck it, let's take the money and deal with it later. Another option of course could have been a mutually acceptable delay in the payment while gears turned. That did not happen either.
Either way, the team made it clear IF YOU TAKE THE MONEY YOU ARE ON THE TEAM (op. cit.). Management will not take kindly to Albert trying to have his cake and eat it too.
4. Albert has sabotaged any real or realistic opportunity to move him for fair compensation. No one has seen him play or had a chance to evaluate his conditioning so there are football questions. Clearly there will also be character questions about a guy that will take 32 million dollars before playing a thirteenth game with a team and still bitch about scheme and role before even coming in and trying it out. While we as fans may see it as Albert being an asshole, every general manager in the league is looking at it clinically, wondering if I bring him in how long until he does this to us? The Redskins owe him no favors at this point so why would they entertain taking an obvious loss on moving him when he can be of use disgruntled in burgundy and gold?
Albert has made a grave miscalculation. You see, he thinks with his contract that he calls the shots. And misguided and immature as that viewpoint is, it is not entirely without justification. In years past with Vinny Cerrato and Dan Snyder trying to be really smart behind closed doors then folding like deck chairs in public, yesterday would have been the beginning of a negotiation that would have ended with assurances that Albert can be Albert in whatever defense the team plays, that the team quote remains committed to the investment made in Albert Haynesworth unquote. Being so unqualified in football decision making inevitably led to that old management team getting pushed around. A lot.
No indeed, this management team could not give a rat's ass about Albert Haynesworth. This situation is a guaranteed public relations slam dunk for Bruce Allen and Mike Shanahan. If they work things out with Albert then that means Albert backed down and we know who is in charge. The team benefits from Albert's play and the fans put anger on hold.
If things do not change and Albert is forced to stay with the Redskins, then 2010 will be a seven month walk of shame for him, every broadcast team is going to have a camera fixed on him the entire game, every pained, disgusted or blank expression on his face all season will be seen on every highlight show. Even better will be if he sits out and racks up ten grand a day in fines. Either way football fans have turned on him and we will have fun mocking him and lay none of the blame for his lack of productivity or wasted salary on management.
And if the team does part ways with him, either by cutting him and taking a potential salary cap hit in the future, or by trading him for a ham sandwich or by buying him out, whatever the means does not matter, then fans will forgive whatever the consequences because no matter the cost in the short term, this is a long term decision to improve the team.
Albert thought he could call the shots or walk away with more than 30 million dollars for twelve games' work. And he still may but I can tell you what, he will not get out unscathed and he will never get another contract close to what he got last year, he has assured his legacy is one of greed and selfishness, not commitment to winning. The days of overpriced veterans coming to Washington and running the show are over.
Albert Haynesworth: Reuters Pictures from here.