Ah, Albert Haynesworth. Can we make it through a week without some blown-up story about Big Al?
Stories circulated that the Washington Redskins were on the verge of trading Haynesworth to the Tennessee Titans earlier this week. The story died a quick death when Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan said Haynesworth is not being traded. Tennessee Titans head coach Jeff Fisher was decidedly ho-hum about the topic.
I mean, coaches wouldn't lie about about a thing like this, would they?
Yet it was the second time since April that a rumor of the imminent trade of Haynesworth to another
sucker team was born. What on Earth is going on? Here are five theories for the story:
1. Someone's in a snit again. Trading Haynesworth on the cheap is just the sort of quick fix that has bedeviled the Redskins since 1999. There are only two fixers around Redskins Park with the juice to pull this off. The first has done this to the team before. The second is here to keep that sort of thing from happening again. Must I name names? Maybe calls were made before cooler heads prevailed.
2. Messing with Albert's head. You know how it goes. New boss comes in and suddenly you're not the star anymore. You wistfully remember how good it was at your old job--the one you dumped for better money without giving them much of a chance for a counter-offer. So your GM calls call the folks at your old job just to prove that they barely remember your name. (If this hasn't happened to you yet, stay tuned. It will.) Call this the grass is greener at FedEx Field theory.
3. Messing with the Cowboys' heads. Is Haynesworth staying or going? Is Haynesworth playing or inactive? Is he a nose tackle or defensive end? Is he motivated or pouty? I like this theory. If Jason Garrett has to burn brain cells to construct two different blocking schemes for whether Haynesworth is in or out, that's less time thinking about how to beat the Redskins. That works for me.
4. Doing homework. It's every NFL general manager's job to have a first-hand feel for the value of the players on the roster. Trade value is part the assessment. If Bruce Allen weren't working the phones to gauge other team's interest in Haynesworth, or anyone else, he would derelict in his duties. It's due diligence, or what the Boy Scouts call "Be Prepared." The NFL 2010 trading deadline is October 19.
5. Boost the TV audience for Redskins-Cowboys. Nobody expects the Redskins to win Sunday night. The team has to manufacture more drama than Mad Men.
Put aside any notion of Haynesworth as a locker room cancer. Donovan McNabb spoke up for Big Al as essential for any hope of winning. Titan players said they would welcome Haynesworth back to the fold, if he ever returns to the fold. Not that Haynesworth isn't a distraction. But he's labor in conflict with management. Players side with the laborer.
The Titans made clear last Spring that Big Al wasn't welcome back, or rather, wasn't worth valuable draft picks. If Big Al wants to change minds, he has to be successful in the 3-4 defense. That will boost demand for his services in 2011 from both 3-4 and 4-3 teams. This is a virtual contract year for Albert. The Redskins won't let him go without value in return. His fastest way off the team is to have a good year right here while avoiding episodes of bad behavior.
Stomping Dallas Cowboys in the head is something we don't condone around here.
Point After: With the departure of Colt Brennan, Albert Haynesworth has become the traffic magnet for Redskins blog sites, drawing more eyeballs than news about, oh, Donovan McNabb. He seems to be the face of the franchise for the moment. There was a brief flirtation with T.J. Houshmandzadeh last weekend. Hits were off the chart for our stories that he might be headed to Washington.
We won't speak of Who's Your Momma again while hoping the next newsworthy Haynesworth stories involve sacks, hurry-ups and turnovers. With real football starting tonight, the soap opera should fade away.