Haynesworth: Warped Sense of Reality

Recently, Washington Redskins DT Albert Haynesworth stated to reporters, “We need somebody to lead us in the right direction.” I could not agree with him more; but he better look himself in the mirror before making such rash comments.

Haynesworth tried to retract his statements in a post-game interview with reporters after an embarrassing 17-0 loss to the Dallas Cowboys Sunday night, stating that he spoke out of “frustration”.

In his own commentary, Haynesworth states, “I’m a competitor. I want to win, no matter what I do. I want to win. Like in the offseason, as far as boats and stuff like that, I got to have the fastest boat. I got to have the fastest car, which got me in trouble a few times. I always want to win at whatever I do. So the same thing with football. This is my livelihood. I’m very competitive. I definitely hate to lose no matter what.” Albert is not the only person in the world who is a competitor and wants to win every challenge he faces. There are millions of people with “livelihoods” who are just as competitive as he is, but do not act in such childish ways, blaming everyone else instead taking personal responsibility for the good and the bad.

When asked if he thought his lucrative off-season contract worth $100 million over seven years, justified him taking on a role of leadership with the team, Haynesworth stated, “A contract don’t make you, as far as leadership. I’ve never been a guy that wants to talk or get in front of the team and say whatever. That’s not me. I just like to play the game and do that. I’m not the kind of guy who wants to hype up people and all that stuff. I’m not sure. I don’t even want to be a captain and go out there in the middle for the coin toss because the other team is the enemy.”

So which is it for Haynesworth? He cannot have it both ways. In one breath he states that he is a competitor and a winner, but as soon as the spotlight focuses on him in a negative or critical capacity, he turns-away and completely deflects the responsibility of winning he has sought stating its everyone else’s fault.

How many times did Michael Jordan, Reggie Jackson, Kobe Bryant, Tom Brady, Dwight Freeney, or Larry Bird turn away from the responsibility that comes with being a competitor, a winner, a champion? It is one thing to place blame where blame is due, but completely irresponsible to not take the blame when one is ‘smack-dab’ in the middle of it and can positively effect the necessary change.

In April of 2002, before he was selected with the 15th overall pick by the Tennessee Titans, I took Haynesworth to dinner and breakfast during his visit to Arizona. He was a young 20-year old man then, and I remember thinking, “This guys is young, immature, and is going to be drafted very high in the NFL. His ‘real-life’ learning curve is going to be so skewed because he is so talented as a football player.” What I was referring to was his arrogant disposition, his large diamond-studded earrings, his gold and diamond encrusted necklace, and diamond encrusted  watch; ALL of this before he was even drafted! Because he is such a talented football player, coaches and front-office types will look at him as a huge commodity and a way for coaches and front-office types to keep their current jobs and win games.  He was already experiencing a warped sense of reality in college, so I did not see him viewing life any different once he was drafted, and his career seems to be moving along just as I had envisioned. At some point in the not so distant future, his bright star and playing ability will fizzle out, but until then, he will continue to garner demand from those teams who want to win and see him as an integral piece of the puzzle.

In further conversation with Jason Reid of the Washington Post, Haynesworth states, “You (Washington Redskins front-office/coaches) brought me here to make us better and to create the havoc that I create. But you’re not letting me do the things that we did” in Tennessee, alluding to his lack of production with the Redskins.

According to Reid, in 14 games with the Titans in 2008, Haynesworth had a personal-best 8.5 sacks, was credited with 51 tackles, including 41 unassisted, and had three forced fumbles. Although an ankle injury has sidelined Haynesworth for three of the Redskin’s last five games, through 15 games of the 2009 NFL season, Haynesworth has contributed an astonishing 38 tackles, 4 sacks, 5 passes defensed and one fumble recovery. This is a far cry from the production I am sure the Washington Redskins thought they would be getting from such a high-profile player.

Haynesworth plays for the Washington Redskins now, not the Tennessee Titans, and was hired to perform in the manner for which they sit fit in paying him to perform a job and duty. It is not about what he did in Tennessee, it is about what he is doing in Washington now.  How does he not get that? Football and a player’s ability to perfect his skill and craft can be categorized as an art, such as that of an artist who paints on canvas. However, if an artist paints his masterpieces on private property or any place he deems necessary for him to make his point, he may then drift into area of graffiti. This is how Haynesworth is projecting his arguments. While a player holds creative license to be an outstanding football player, he must do so within the system and scheme for which he was hired otherwise he is just another rogue player doing what he want to do and that only creates disharmony and dysfunction. 

I say this in my own commentary: Albert, stop blaming everyone else for your troubles, frustration, and lack of production. No one player can win or lose a game in the NFL, but learn to take responsibility for your own actions and accept the responsibility of what it means to be a true leader not just in the NFL, but in life!

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