Reporting David Elfin
Albert Haynesworth is due in Fairfax County Court today to face an assault charge stemming from an alleged road rage incident on Feb. 4.
This legal difficulty is not to be confused with Haynesworth’s alleged groping of a waitress at a Washington hotel eight days later. He pleaded not guilty on May 10 to a misdemeanor charge of sexual abuse and is scheduled to stand trial on July 11.
These off the field embarrassments add to Haynesworth’s litany of bad behavior since the Washington Redskins foolishly gave the All-Pro defensive tackle a $100 million contract with $41 million guaranteed to leave the Tennessee Titans. I’m no Johnny Come Lately on this. I argued against his acquisition in The Washington Times the day they signed him.
Since then, Haynesworth has feuded with two coaches, although much more vociferously and for much longer with current boss Mike Shanahan, who suspended him for the final four games of 2010 and to whom he hasn’t spoken since the Democrats still ran the House.
Haynesworth, who has provided just 6.5 sacks and 53 tackles while missing 12 of 32 games for various reasons, has become a laughingstock for lying on the field as the action progressed and gasping for air on the sideline.
After he skipped the entire offseason program because he was offended at being asked to move to the self-sacrificing nose tackle spot, it took the mountainous malcontent 10 days once training camp began to pass Shanahan’s conditioning test and join his teammates in drills.
These same teammates had ripped Haynesworth for failing to show up for the mandatory minicamp in June and joked about him during their players-only practices this week during the NFL lockout. That’s how highly Big Albert is regarded in Washington’s locker room.
Look, there’s no doubt that Haynesworth can be a force if he’s motivated and in shape. He had an impact in Washington’s upset of NFC North champion Chicago last year and his presence inside in 2009 helped make Brian Orakpo and Andre Carter dynamic pass rushers outside. The Redskins have been better with Haynesworth than without him, but the difference between 7-13 and 3-9 isn’t worth the aggravation.
The Redskins only owe Haynesworth $9 million more of the guaranteed money so he’s no longer scandalously expensive for a stud player.
But as the cliché goes, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. Haynesworth had a road rage incident during his final season in Tennessee and stomped on the bare head of fallen Dallas center Andre Gurode in 2006.
Less than a month from his 30th birthday and after almost always getting his way, Haynesworth isn’t going to change. He doesn’t want to play for Shanahan and the coach doesn’t want his bad attitude causing further distractions for a team with so many issues.
The lockout prevents the Redskins from trying to trade Haynesworth. But once the league is up and running again, trade or no trade, convictions in court or not, the sooner Haynesworth is an ex-Redskin the better for all concerned.
David Elfin has covered sports since he was a junior at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School in 1975. He is the Washington representative on the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee and is the former President of the Pro Football Writers of America. A pre-game regular on 106.7-The Fan during the 2010 Redskins season, he returned to the station as its blogger in March.