Haynesworth Saga Day 5030 Part I

Steve O Speak

This is what it is beginning to feel like in D.C. in regards to the Albert Haynesworth ‘story’, because all we ever hear about is some new angle on Haynesworth not being in camp for the voluntary workouts. In a recent piece in the Washington Post, where All-Pro tight end Chris Cooley summed it up best by saying “And when the season starts, if he shows up and he’s playing, no one’s gonna give a damn what he did [in May].” Cooley went on further to defend Haynesworth by saying, “I’m so tired of hearing about it, because he’s still not doing anything wrong.” While what Cooley said was a 100% accurate the most interesting thing in that blog post was the fact that Redskins Insider blog has tagged Albert Haynesworth 21 times in the past 40 days. Now that doesn’t even include the number of stories, editorials or times that the D.C. Sports Bog has written about Haynesworth, that is just in the Redskins Insider blog. It also doesn’t count when the Insider talks about Haynesworth without tagging him, like for instance the paragraph written about Haynesworth in the middle of a post about DE Adam Carriker. And that is just one news outlet that covers the Redskins.

It just amazes me that this is such a story in D.C. with regards to the Redskins. Yes, I understand it should be reported, but it has been covered to death by the Washington media (which has also made the story go national). Sure you want Haynesworth in camp, especially with a new coaching staff and scheme, but the reality of it is he doesn’t have to be there. He hasn’t broken any clause in his contract or any conduct policy, and yet he is vilified as a bad apple in the Redskins clubhouse (without him even being there). And while I understand that his absence might get under the skin of the coaching staff, they shouldn’t blame Albert for a CBA that defines voluntary and mandatory workouts separately. What makes this Haynesworth saga even more bizarre is the fact that it isn’t anything new, as players around the league are holding out for better contracts, and that Haynesworth is right.

Right now dozens of restricted free agents unhappy with their contract offers are missing voluntary workouts to show their dissatisfaction (and those are players who literally need to play for their next contract). In addition to those players, there are a fair number of players around the league who workout on their own every offseason and that rarely ever participate in any of these voluntary workouts. These are players with no issues with contracts, or playing time, but feel it is best to workout on their own. On top of the restricted free agents and the star players who workout on their own, their are a handful of players under contract who are holding out because they want a new contract. The most notable of which is Titans running back Chris Johnson.

Johnson is an interesting case because of how it parallels with Albert Haynesworth. Johnson is coming off a 2,000 yard season, and wants to get paid like one of the top offensive players in the league. So far he has missed every voluntary workout for the Titans, and the rumblings are that he is willing to miss the mandatory workouts as well. There has even been speculation that Johnson will sit out all of training camp, and possibly even the start of the season to show how unhappy he is. While some of it is speculation, it is out there and legitimate. Yet for some reason this isn’t nearly the national or local story that Haynesworth is (and I don’t mean local D.C. I mean local Nashville). In the past two days in the Tennessean there has been a blog post and a story about Johnson being absent from workouts. In both (and really the story is just a more detailed version of the post) there is no mention of Johnson doing anything against the team, hurting his teammates or coaches, it is just the cold hard facts. The fact is that Johnson is unhappy with his contract and is holding out. There is not even mention of the speculation that Johnson could holdout of the mandatory workouts, compared to all the speculation of Haynesworth wanting to be traded coming out of Washington. What is even crazier is the fact that in the same Tennessean, one of their columists, Joe Biddle ran a piece putting Haynesworth over the coals for not attending workouts. So in a piece that dedicated more ink (pixels) to Haynesworth (the former Titan) than the post and story combined did to Johnson (the current Titan) Haynesworth was taken to task, but Johnson wasn’t even mentioned. How can you not even correlate the Johnson situation to the Haynesworth one?? Even if you agree with Johnson’s motives and not Haynesworth’s, you should at least mention your own player who is holding out.

Some how and some way the Haynesworth situation is getting more press from the paper of record in Nashville, than the Johnson situation (also it is worth noting that two of the Titans restricted free agents are holding out and they barely get a mention). Look both are stories, but the Haynesworth story has been investigated to the fullest, where every player, coach and person ever associated with Hayneworth has been asked to weigh in. When it comes to Chris Johnson, players and coaches are rarely asked what his absence means to the team, and have been given every opportunity to defend him, and not vilify him. Frankly I’m not going to lose much sleep over either situation (other than the fact that Haynesworth is being thrown under the bus), because neither player has done anything wrong. But I think it is high time that the media attention focuses on one of the 1,000 other issues confronting the Redskins this season. Since they likely won’t, I will explore in part II of my take on the Haynesworth saga, why the Redskins are wrong about the situation and how they can fix it while saving face.

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