On Sunday morning, I was walking out of the green room here at NFL Network after Mark Sanchez threw his pick on the opening drive against the Bills. No, I was not happy.
On the way out I passed by Kurt Warner who asked me what happened. After relating the story of the worst interception I've seen since, well, Sanchez' previous interception, I wanted to know if Warner could get to Buffalo for the second half if I got him a Jets uniform. Warner shook his head and said to me, "Everyone always loves you more after you're gone."
Well … that's not always the case. There are a few guys we're seeing at the end of the road, and there's a big fan base for each that won't be sorry about it. I'd like to attach the Boyz II Men song so you can get the appropriate musical accompaniment while you read this -- which I believe is the next level of Internet consumption.
ALBERT HAYNESWORTH -- Tampa Bay will be the last NFL uniform you see him don. The Buccaneers were the only team to put in a claim for Haynesworth after his release. What does that tell you? Here is Haynesworth's career in review. He at times dominated. He stomped on Andre Gurode's head. He got a $100 million contract from the Redskins, yet got traded after two seasons. Every time he got in his car you held your breath that he'd stay off the police blotter. He flamed out in New England after an altercation with assistant coach Pepper Johnson. Now he's in Tampa Bay. Let me get this straight. The Bucs, who didn't want to bring in anyone in the off-season to mess with their chemistry, bring in Haynesworth. Next, Lindsay Lohan is going to advise Justin Bieber. (Wait, unless that's happened already.)
First of all, if you sign a $100 million contract and you still find a way to be unhappy, that's a red flag in my book. You chose to melt down and find a way out of Washington because you were unhappy with the defensive alignment? Seriously? That's like me winning the lottery and complaining that too many people are calling me for loans. Oh, the humanity! Then you get a lifeboat in New England -- the new Home for Wayward Talent (formerly headquartered in Oakland) -- and can't make it in a place where Randy Moss lasted three seasons. Haynesworth is over 30 and his productivity is declining. As NFL.com's Steve Wyche pointed out, his final play as a Patriot was getting blasted out of the way on Brandon Jacobs' touchdown run. He sat on the bench the rest of the game against the Giants. Who's going to say he's worth signing after this? Bill Belichick is the ultimate litmus test for renegades. When you can't succeed for him, you can't succeed anywhere else. Good luck, Raheem Morris. I say the over/under for Haynesworth in Tampa Bay is Dec. 1. Then he'll officially be known as ex-NFL'er Albert Haynesworth.
PEYTON HILLIS -- He will be a DNP the rest of the season for the Browns. If I had to tell a young player how to succeed in the NFL, I would point them at Peyton Hillis and say, "Do the opposite." You have to know how not playing because of strep throat is going to go over with the team and the fans, especially when it gets out that your agent allegedly advised you not to play because you're in a contract year. If it all stopped there, Hillis would have been salvageable. But it didn't. Hillis can't stay healthy. He missed a Boys & Girls Club event. Hey, at least LeBron raised a lot of money for the B&G before breaking Cleveland's heart on national TV. Then Hillis got married on his off-day a couple of weeks ago, had a party and then flew back for practice Wednesday. There is no player in the league in more dire need of a great PR agent than Hillis. The coup-de-grace was the 'intervention' that was staged by Browns vets to try to get him going. "Hey Peyton, seriously, dude, how hurt are you? Since etiquette tells me I have a year to get you a wedding present, I'm going to wait to see if you're still here before I go out and get you some silverware from Target."
Not only will Hillis be out of Cleveland after this season, I don't think he suits up again in 2011. The Browns already have said they're prepared to let him leave during the offseason. This is not a year in which you're competing for a division title, so there's no real need to get him back into the lineup. The Browns will focus on Montario Hardesty once he gets healthy and should give Colt McCoy a heavier burden to see if he's for real. There's no real impetus for Hillis to see the field again, so he won't. Teams always want to look at their future whenever possible. If you're not going to be a part of it -- as is the case with Hillis -- you sit and watch.
MIKE SHANAHAN -- This should be his final year in Washington, and the only reason I say 'should' is because I don't know who else Daniel Snyder would get to take the head coaching job in a loaded division where the talent cupboard is bare. So he may stick with Shanahan, but let's be realistic -- if any other coach made the personnel decisions Shanahan's made in Washington he'd be laughed out of the league. He decides on a John Beck/Rex Grossman quarterback derby, despite plenty of other QBs available both in the draft and in free agency. The only people who were excited about this competition were relatives of those two mediocre signal-callers. Beck didn't win a game in Miami; Grossman's last good season was 2005, and it wasn't that good. Shanahan thought Tim Hightower, who was never a clear-cut number one, was going to be a difference maker at running back. Hightower averaged fewer than 3.5 yards per carry after Week 1, and then he got hurt. After Ryan Torain had one big week followed by a month of minimal production, he's turning to unproven Roy Helu. Helu had a good game in Week 9 and has people excited, but if he's that good, why is he just now getting a chance?
It's time to take the car keys away from Shanahan. The Redskins are devoid of playmakers and are at the bottom of the league talent-wise. Say what you want about Snyder, but at least he spent money to bring in over-rated players instead of leaving it to Shanahan's unknowns and unprovens.
Shanahan aside, what do players like Haynesworth, Hillis (and also Terrell Owens and Tiki Barber, who can't find their way back into the league) have in common? Their issues aren't confined to the field. The saying used to be: If you can produce, I don't care what you do, there's a place for you on my team. Not anymore.
You can't argue Hillis has the talent to be a top 10 back. Owens can still perform at a high level, as we saw with Cincinnati. Yet none of these players are generating much interest. They're just not worth the risk anymore. That should be the question every player asks himself before he causes a potential distraction: Do I have enough cache to say what I want to say and not get released? If the answer isn't a resounding "yes", then shhhhhh. You'll play longer and you'll get paid longer.
See Jason Smith on "NFL Fantasy Live," airing Sundays at 11:30 a.m. ET on the NFL RedZone channel, and Tuesday-Friday on NFL Network at 2 p.m. ET and 12 a.m. ET/9 p.m. PT. He writes Fantasy and other NFL pith on NFL.com daily. Talk to him on Twitter @howaboutafresca. He only asks you never bring up when the Jets play poorly.