The Sports Daily > Redskins Hog Heaven
ESPN To The Defense of Albert Haynesworth
ASHBURN, VA - JULY 30: Defensive lineman Albert Haynesworth  of the Washington Redskins works out following practice on the second day of training camp July 30, 2010 in Ashburn, Virginia. Haynesworth failed a team mandated conditioning test for the second day in a row prior to the morning practice. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)


Albert Haynesworth has his defenders and they come from the Worldwide Leader in Sports: ESPN.

The first is a case presented by freelance writer Patrick Hruby who makes a pair of analogies so ridiculous he must have written them tongue-in-cheek.

In An Albert Haynesworth defense motion, Hruby cooks up a story about a pastry chef facing new work conditions.

“Imagine you’re a pastry chef. The top pastry chef in New York. A bunch of restaurants want you. One restaurant offers you more money than the others, plus the opportunity to run the dessert menu. You take it. A year later, the same restaurant switches to an all-fondue format and demands that you become a sous chef, chopping chocolate-dippable fruit wedges in the back room.”

Hruby says Big Al has a right to act out in frustration. I get that. He says anyone so annoyed at being jerked around would call in sick and check the want ads. I get that too. Then he insults Redskins fans by says we should direct our ire over his position at some of the team’s decision makers for striking the bonus-rich deal with Haynesworth.

Where the bleap has this guy been since game three last season? In making his case, Hruby omits a few key points.


DETROIT, MI - SEPTEMBER 27: Defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth #92 of the Washington Redskins lays on the field injured as he is attended to by trainers in the first half against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on September 27, 2009 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Scott Boehm/Getty Images)


Fan ire’s already been directed at the decision-makers, one of whom is already gone, the other urged to fire himself.

As for Hruby’s analogy, if that guy is indeed the best chef in town, he could and would quit and get a better job anywhere.

That’s exactly the deal Haynesworth was offered by Mike Shanahan. We’ll let you out of your contract. Make your best deal anywhere and you’re free to go–as long as you don’t take the big bonus to stay.

Guess what? The great chef found out that he’s not so much in-demand. His last restaurant refused to take him back. Maybe he’s lost some skills or has a bad attitude. The other joints in town know that conditions change all the time. If they don’t change, they will lose. They need chefs who can help them. Nobody else loves him like his current restaurant. If he stays, he might become a better chef.

ESPN’s Jemele Hill makes the more serious argument in The stakes in Mike Shanahan’s leverage.

Hill wonders if the Redskins are overplaying their hand. With so much at stake, with a Pro Bowl quarterback under center, Washington needs a Pro Bowl season from Haynesworth to get anywhere this year.

“The last thing this team needs is a distraction of this magnitude before the season even begins.”

Preseason is just the time to get distractions out of the way. Haynesworth played better than given credit for last year. It was not a Pro Bowl performance, largely because of conditioning. What’s the issue now? Conditioning.

It’s football. What happens when an injury forces coaches to move players to different positions? Can’t Haynesworth do what Lorenzo Alexander did last year and play on the defensive and offensive line? (Come to think of it, Big Al would be a pretty fierce tackle. But don’t mention that to Shanahan.)

Here’s what will happen if Shanahan goes too far. The veteran team captains will whisper in Shanny’s ear: enough. Shanny will whisper in the strength coach’s ear: your watch is too slow.” The strength coach will declare Haynesworth fit without ever saying whether he passed or not. The coach will mumble something about employee confidentially.

Whispers may already have gone into Shanahan’s ear. Commissioner Roger Goodell visited Redskins Park. He met privately with Haynesworth. Hmmm.

This whole issue is a crises only to Haynesworth. Sooner or later, he and the coach will resolve it like men, professionally and quietly.

Point After: Goodell said he passed the conditioning test. Right. So did I. So did you. And your grandmother.