Let me start by saying I am pumped to crank up the mighty machine that is the Manly House for another season of professional football - but please be gentle. I don't want to say I'm feeling a tad rusty as I loosen up on the sidelines with the old MacBook Pro, but my hunt-and-peck finger just failed Mike Shanahan's conditioning test. Again and again and again…
How 'bout that Albert Haynes(not)worth(it)? My man has a $60 billion contract, but once he reports to two-a-days, all that green can't protect him from getting punished in front of his classmates like a fifth-grader. While it's not as awkward as LeBron's TV special, both of these trillionaires shoot to the top of the athletes-in-need-of-new-advisors list.
Speaking of the newest member of the Miami Heat, I had the good fortune of talking with Bob Costas the day of "The Decision," and we both assumed there was no way LeBron would be doing a special if he wasn't going back to Cleveland, just based on the inevitable evil factor of crushing a town's dreams to the tune of the top-rated show in primetime on a Thursday! On the other hand, if he hadn't, we would never have been exposed to the spectacle of a big-time team owner acting out sans filter. That, my friends, is something you never see in this massage-the-message world we live in.
In Haynesworth's case, all he accomplished was setting himself up for a classic showdown: The uber control-freak coach trying to change the culture in his first camp versus the current poster-clown for "Who cares, I got paid." And at the end of the day, do any of us really believe he finally passed the test in a secluded setting at 6 a.m.?
While we have certainly seen this before, I remain fascinated that no one seems to be making the obvious counterpoint: With all this talk of finally capping rookie salaries so we don't see JaMarcus Russell make more money than every QB currently in the Hall of Fame, Haynesworth is the veteran version of the same mess - the guy who gets the big payday and immediately stops producing.
Unproven thieves vs. Proved-it-once-and-done thieves: Both can break your team, both can break your heart. But at the end of the day, which bust should have a harder time sleeping at night?
Let's see how they stack up at…
Nick Bakay's Tale of the Tape:
Rookie bust vs. veteran bust
What clouded their thinking?
Rookie bust: Threw seven interceptions when he confused the Vikings secondary with a case of purple drank.
Veteran bust: Sexting while audibles are being called.
Advantage: Rookie - at least interceptions can't get pregnant.
How they got there:
Rookie bust: Rode a brilliant college coach's system to the top of money mountain, but, in truth, still can't comprehend which dude is the slot receiver.
Veteran bust: Full comprehension of the infinite beauty of the term "contract year"
Where the really easy performance escalator money goes:
Rookie bust: Bottle service in the VIP lounge for his crew
Veteran bust: The $250,000 minibike he flips and tears an ACL on.
Advantage: Rookie -- at least he shared.
What they use to sign the contract:
Rookie bust: The same pen a smart kid used to take his tests for him.
Veteran bust: A fine Monte Blanc, brimming with blood of every fan that thought he was the missing piece to a Super Bowl victory.
Advantage: Push, there are no winners here.
First big purchase:
Rookie bust: A $700,000 diamond necklace festooned with the name of his imaginary friend.
Veteran bust: Special landscaping and enclosures to house all the jungle cats he bought on the cheap from Mike Tyson.
Advantage: Veteran - you hate to see magnificent animals working the streets in a bad part of town.
What should have been their first purchase:
Rookie bust: A small device that fits in his ear and drowns out boos.
Veteran bust: A mansion specially coated to repel eggs.
More signs of trouble:
Rookie bust: Should an NFL quarterback consistently misspell "fizzorward pazz"" when he tweets?
Veteran bust: He missed a team flight because he crashed his Bentley into his yacht.
Where does it all end?
Rookie bust: Trying to resurrect yourself returning punts for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
Veteran bust: Congratulations, you just traded in an NFL career for a chain of dry cleaners.
If it's any consolation…:
Rookie bust: Is going to put every cent of that contract back into the economy… and fast.
Veteran bust: Five years from now, we will look back at an $80 million contract and think it was a bargain.
Advantage: Veteran, I guess
Our small token of revenge:
Rookie bust: The odds are pretty good that someday soon he will be cooking your quarter-pounder with cheese.
Veteran bust: Well, at least his children, and their children, and even their children will all be too wealthy to have to play football for a living and mess up your favorite team.
Advantage: Veteran, for protecting future generations.
So there you have it. It's all so simple when you break things down scientifically. In a throwdown bankrupt of any moral fiber, the advantage goes to… the agents who commissioned the deals. Look, there was no way the good guys were going to get anywhere near this one. Until next time, I'm Nick Bakay, reminding you the numbers lie.