ASHBURN, Va. -- As bothered as some of Albert Haynesworth's Redskins' teammates are about him stiffing the organization because of the changed defensive scheme, he could -- and maybe should -- be facing more animosity from players around the NFL.
Hayneworth's thumbing of his nose at the team after getting paid $32 million of a $100 million free-agent deal signed in 2009 because he doesn't like the Redskins' new 3-4 front, or that he doesn't care for new coach Mike Shanahan, or whatever, would seem to offend the hundreds of players around the league who didn't get to take advantage of free agency this season like he did in 2009.
Do you think restricted free agents who would have been unrestricted under the system that benefitted Haynesworth -- like Elvis Dumervil, Vincent Jackson, Owen Daniels, Marcus McNeill -- pity him at all? Because of the labor rules governing free agency this year, these players were tethered to their teams via restricted tenders that turned potential $20 million guarantees into a $3 million one-year salary -- if they signed.
Then there are those who have to play in schemes that don't fit their strengths, but have no choice but to do it in order to earn a small fraction of what Haynesworth's been paid... They won't be rushing to his defense either. Haynesworth's former Redskins teammate, quarterback Jason Campbell, has changed more schemes and systems than any quarterback in the NFL. Washington traded Campbell to Oakland after acquiring Donovan McNabb, but you've never heard Campbell complain about having to learn a new system every year.
By being a team player, Campbell ended up in a situation that might turn out to be more beneficial. Haynesworth's approach won't benefit anyone, except himself of course, because he's already been paid.
"When you decided to play a team sport, you have to think about everybody involved in the situation," Redskins respected linebacker London Fletcher said. "This is not golf or tennis or anything like that. This is a team sport. What he's decided to do is make a decision based all about him."
Arizona defensive tackle Darnell Dockett, a Pro Bowler who played far better than Haynesworth last season, said he would play any position for the $100 million Haynesworth was gifted. Come to think of it, Dockett, who has been clamoring for a new contract, pretty much plays any position -- at least along the Cardinals' multiple-look, 3-4 front. Haynesworth apparently isn't even willing to try.
None of us is going to pity anyone making millions, regardless of the amount. Yet for Haynesworth to disregard so many of his brethren -- especially at a time when solidarity is key because of the tenuous labor situation with owners -- in order to force his way out of town could have much bigger ramifications.
NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith and his top negotiators sat down with some of the NFL's top officials Wednesday -- the first day of Washington's minicamp that Haynesworth skipped -- to try to make some headway on the labor issues that currently threaten the 2011 season.
Smith's leverage in trying to strengthen or even minimize some of the possible losses in the guaranteed money portion of player contracts will be stifled with the sheer mention of Haynesworth's actions. Nobody told Redskins owner Daniel Snyder to guarantee Haynesworth $41 million and pay him $32 million in just more than a year, but Snyder expected to have Haynesworth honor the contract. That Haynesworth seems intent on getting out of Washington with millions in his pocket by boycotting team activities all but assures that owners are going to insist on every out clause and bonus-money recouping measure possible in the new CBA.
Ironically, the NFLPA might have to argue on Haynesworth's behalf should the Redskins try to recoup some of his bonus money, which is a definite possibility.
In all likelihood, Haynesworth will show up for training camp in late July to avoid stiff fines and triggers that could strengthen the team's approach in trying to get back some of his bonus money. Whether he'll be in shape or willing to step on the field will be another issue. If he comes in ready and willing to play, a lot of hard feelings could be forgotten. Should he not show up or be unfit to play, what started this week will take on a whole new life.
The damage has been done, though. Haynesworth has alienated a lot of people, and he's also fulfilled projections that he'd go in the tank if he didn't get his way. Some team may want him in a trade or if he buys his way off the team, but he might not have a lot of takers because teams are tightening their financial belts and avoiding headache-inducing players.
In fact, T.O. might end up getting a job before Haynesworth takes the field again.