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Is Albert Haynesworth Walking Away From $100 Million? The Redskins Think So.

Submitted by on June 19, 2010 – 11:04 am6 Comments

Defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth, III seems ready to do just that.

Widely considered the “most dominant defensive tackle in the league,” Haynesworth signed a 7-year contract for $100 million with the Washington Redskins just last year. The contract made him the highest paid player at his position in the history of the NFL, however all has not been well with Haynesworth and his new team.

Toward the end of last season, Haynesworth criticized the defensive system, saying that it didn’t allow him the freedom to produce at the same level as he did with the Tennessee Titans. It appears that the coaching staff in Washington was listening, as they attempted to make a change this offseason.

The Redskins are attempting to move to the 3-4 defensive formation. Although Haynesworth asked for a change, he is not at all happy with the change his team made and expressed his displeasure by refusing to show up to mini camp and requesting a trade.

Interestingly enough, because of the defensive giant’s criticism of the Redskins, he was told that he could be released from his contract in exchange for $21 million in bonus money. Haynesworth declined, took the money, and now wants a trade.

There’s plenty to be said about professional athletes, the level of comfort and preference they receive, and their egos. The issue in this situation has little to do with this. This is about being a man. To be a man is to honor one’s commitments even when doing so is not convenient (especially if you’re being compensated to Haynesworth’s extent).

The very least he could do is actually come to camp and try the system out, having clamored for a change to the defensive system. On top of that, the Redskins expressed good faith in his skills by making him the highest paid player at his position—the least he could do is honor the judgement of the team’s management by performing well.

The highest amount of  money Haynesworth can be fined amounts to a little less than $10,000. Of course, this won’t make much of a difference to someone in his income bracket. What will hurt is the wrong message he’s sending to other coaches, GMs, and players, which may make it difficult for him to get the trade he so desperately seeks. His own coach and teammates are already weighing in.

Obviously, he took the check, so I was surprised he wasn’t here today.…Don’t take our check and then say that, hey, you don’t want to be part of our organization.”

- Coach Mike Shanahan

“It’s getting to be selfish. He’s hurting the team. It doesn’t sit well with the players.…You can’t really count on him right now.”

- Center Casey Rabach

You can read more of  what Haynesworth’s teammates have to say here.

These types of issues in professional sports seem to mirror issues in the music industry, as love for one’s craft has given way to love of money. This shift has caused a major decline in the loyalty and quality found in both industries, accompanied by a major decline of public interest and support.

Instead of focusing so much on money (when pro athletes get so much of it), shouldn’t they focus more on their legacies within their sports, specialties, and as people? It seems clear—if athletes showed the same amount of effort on the floor as they do at the bargaining table, we would all win.

Haynesworth needs to be aware: He who tries to ‘have his cake and eat it too’ runs the risk of going hungry while begging for crumbs.

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