Former Saints’ head coach Jim Haslett threw one of his current players under this bus this week. Now granted, Albert Haynesworth has been labelled universally as a bad character problem and he’s on his way out as getting suspended by the team last season. Once Haynesworth got paid that $100 million contract, he made it clear that things were going to go on his terms and he was done putting in effort. Haynesworth is the classic case of a horrific football investment where you get an extremely talented player that stops working hard the very minute he “makes it” financially. As much as I love football, there’s a big reason I’ve always had a ton of respect for tennis players and golfers. Less manly, maybe, but those guys go out and earn every penny they make. Their pay is completely based on performance. Play well, you get paid, play poorly you don’t. In football, as we all know, investments are a huge gamble. You’re banking on a guy performing and you hope he doesn’t get hurt. The amount you pay them and the length of the contracts is complete arbitrary and there’s no exact science to it. In Haynesworth’s case, it was a collosal failure, but that’s entirely consistent with how the Redskins do business. They pay top dollar for proven veteran players with talent regardless of their mental makeup. That’s come back to bite them countless times. There’s something about that Redskins model that completely absorbs their players of any hunger to succeed. Too much money is the culprit. But I digress, back to Haslett… there’s two things I want to make note of here.
#1 What if Haynesworth’s issues were partly due to the fact that Jim Haslett does a poor job of commanding the respect of his players?
#2 Regardless of how egregious Haynesworth’s character is, I contend that Haslett going public like this exposes his character as well.
Haslett has had a history of losing players. The whole Willie Roaf leaving New Orleans fiasco was a joke. He should have never left New Orleans. There were rumors about Roaf’s wife that I don’t really care to address, but the bottom line is Haslett had an opportunity to take care of his locker room and instead he allowed his team to fall to shambles. This was less than a year after a direct quote came from Haslett saying “Willie Roaf is the player we can least afford to lose”. Then they lost him. I remember the Saints lost by 20+ points in the last 3 games as the locker room was completely fractured. Players stopped playing. Later on, Haslett was stubborn about keeping Aaron Brooks as his quarterback despite an injury. Again, the entire team questioned his decision. Kyle Turley admitted to me in an interview that the team wanted Jake Delhomme to get his chance because Brooks was injured, and Haslett refused out of fear Delhomme would start a quarterback controversy. Haslett would later admit he made a mistake. Haslett has also admitted to using steroids when he played, and there’s been a lot of rumors about inappropriate behavior while he was in New Orleans. My point in all this is Haslett has a very long history of questionable decision making, and a long history of players not respecting him. If Albert Haynesworth has a character problem to begin with, appointing Jim Haslett as his defensive coach is going to make matters much worse. He’s already proven as a manager/leader of men he has some tragic flaws.
The cardinal rule of a football team is you NEVER EVER EVER go public. You keep issues in the locker room. In Washington, I guess they play by different rules. The Shanahan/McNabb fiasco was also made all too public. At the end of the day, no matter how dispicable Haynesworth’s behavior is, I think Haslett going public is just as unforgivable. As a coach and a leader, throwing players on your roster under the bus publicly is petty and immature. It says a lot about Haslett. Many players are immature and selfish, but all coaches should know better than to behave that way. Haslett is a good defensive mind, but his stubborness and lack of judgment has ultimately cost him success.
Just another example of why I’m so glad I don’t have to deal with rooting for a product he coaches anymore.