Albert Haynesworth Recounts His Mistakes — Including Leaving Tennessee — In Letter To Himself
The second half of the once-stellar career of Albert Haynesworth is perhaps best summed up by The Onion article "Report: Albert Haynesworth Just A Mound Of Ice Cream And Hot Dogs." The University of Tennessee and later Tennessee Titans star had issues, both self-inflicted and otherwise, from the day he signed a $100 million deal with Washington in 2009. He was never the same player, and he has since left the NFL.
Blame whomever you want for the way that disastrous contract turned out. Most likely, you blame Haynesworth -- though it should be noted that Washington is a terrible, awful franchise. Not surprisingly, Haynesworth blames... not Haynesworth. In a letter to his 14-year-old self in The Players' Tribune, Haynesworth recounts the mistakes of his youth and not-so-youthful days, including his decision to leave the Titans at all. He also recounts the mistakes of others.
On mixing friends with business:
During your freshman year, Coach Fulmer will introduce you to a psychologist who will become one of your best friends. He’ll listen to your problems when you’re struggling. You’ll go tubing and water skiing on his boat and hang out with him all throughout college. He will come to your house and meet your mom. I know this sounds crazy, Albert. But do not trust this man. As soon as you decide to declare for the NFL Draft, he will say, “You know, I do some investing on the side. I’ve been helping other guys out for years. You should let me handle your money.”
On the stomping incident:
You will approach games as war. I don’t mean that as a cliche. There will be many times where you feel like your opponent is trying to steal your entire life. In October 2006, you’ll be playing against the Dallas Cowboys, rushing against the guard like you have thousands of times before, when you get your knee clipped from behind. You’ll get up, furious, and see that it’s the center, Andre Gurode, who hit you. This is an unspoken rule among lineman. You don’t do it. But maybe it was an accident. You say, “What the hell was that? You ain’t man enough to block me straight up?”
“Nah,” he’ll say, “I’m trying to put your ass out.”
This will be one of the most significant moments of your life. You will go the sideline, and your vision will be red. You will be madder than you’ve ever been in your entire life. A switch will get flipped. You will not be able to control the monster, and you’ll step way over the line for the first time. I know this will seem impossible to you — but you will stomp on Andre’s head, cutting him above his eye and causing him to get 30 stitches.
On leaving the Titans:
What I know is that you’ll make back-to-back Pro Bowls in 2007 and 2008, and you’ll start to believe that you’re unstoppable. That you can do anything. That’s when you’re going to do something really dumb.
If nothing else, listen to me on this, Albert: Do not leave the Tennessee Titans. Your defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz is a mastermind. No matter how much I tell you this, you’ll probably never realize it until your career is over, but it’s true. You’re like a system quarterback. You thrive in a very specific scheme. When you hit free agency, the Washington Redskins are going to offer you $100 million. Everyone will talk about this (they won’t talk about the fact that most of that money is not guaranteed, or that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers offered you $135 million). The $100 million will become a huge burden. Take less and stay in Tennessee where you belong.
And finally, on playing for Mike Shanahan:
People are going to be all over you for your contract, and you’re going to feel really frustrated. You’re going to do some dumb things. But what people aren’t going to see is Mike Shanahan calling you into his office and saying, “Albert, we just want you to eat up space. All we want you to do is grab the center and let the linebackers run free.”
You’re going to look at this famous NFL head coach in total disbelief and say, “You want to pay me $100 million to grab the center?”
And he’s going to say, with a straight face, “Albert, if you have more than one sack this season, I’m going to be pissed.”
Not many people have heard Haynesworth's side of the story of how his career arc plummeted. Then again, Haynesworth's side of the story doesn't include the parts about showing up for Washington training camp out of shape, or how he lasted only a few months with the Patriots. But this is what Haynesworth believes, and for what its worth, he says he's happy now.
How do you feel, Washington fans?
Read the whole letter here.
Photo via The Onion
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