"Fat Albert" Finally Passes the Test

I'm kind of surprised I haven't dedicated a post about sports yet halfway into my 14 day blog challenge. Had to happen sooner or later, right? Therefore, I'm going to talk about Washington Redskins Defensive Lineman Albert Haynesworth.

People have already been talking about this player for the past few months, especially around here in the DC area. And honestly, I'd be lying to you if I said I didn't have an opinion on him. (I mean in what other trade can you get paid $21 million up front and not show up for work... more on that later). I just held back my opinion until now, because I didn't want to sound like a parrot and say everything that everyone was saying when it was being said. So therefore, I'm going to give a good amount of my opinions now, simply because I want to.

Ever since training camp for the Washington Redskins started last Thursday, all eyes on this sport were focused on Albert Haynesworth, not just in the local media, but also of the national media. Everyone was focused on Albert, and how he was going to be treated by the coaching staff and by the players, because he decided not to show up to the other off-season activities such as mini-camp and working out in the gym. The coverage on this guy was so prevalent, that every time you'd turn on sports talk radio, or watch the sports talk shows in this area, he would usually be the lead story. People talked about him so much, that even the people who were talking about him try to go as long as they can and do their shows to not talk about him. It was silly.

The whole saga with Albert in camp had to do whether he can pass this conditioning test. And this conditioning test consisted of shuttles where he had to sprint back and forth for 50 yards six times for a total of 300 yards in under 70 seconds. Then if he completed that, he would have to do that same exercise in under 80 seconds after a 3 minute rest. That shouldn't be too hard for any professional athlete, or any athlete, to pass, right?

Well... apparently, it was hard for him to pass. He failed the conditioning test the first day he tried it (because he apparently had to go to the bathroom during the break), and he failed the second time he tried it because he didn't complete part 1 of the test in under 70 seconds. The days after that, he didn't even take the test because of his sore knee.

Now, I'm not one to judge, and I don't know the true extent of the damage to his knee, so I'm gonna make these next remarks, from my own experience. When I was in high school, I tore my meniscus, and sprained my ACL (which will later become slightly torn). I didn't have a slightly sore knee, I had a torn knee which needed surgery. In my first few weeks after the injury, I did stay away from practice because I could barely walk, but I still stayed with my team. Then a few weeks before the county tournament, though I still needed surgery, I can walk better and I trusted my body enough that I felt I could gut it out and compete in the County Tournament. So I did. And guess what... I even won a match... with a torn knee! I wasn't getting paid the richest contract in the history of my sport to wrestle... I was just doing it because I wanted to be part of the team, and part of the competition. Surely, if little old unathletic me could do that, someone getting paid millions of dollars should be able to gut it out a little bit?

Back to Albert, he didn't take the test again until this morning, and that's when he finally passed. Now, I do commend him for not giving up and staying with the team and learning the defense while he was "injured" and couldn't do the test. Bravo to him on that. But many would feel that if he showed up for work (though "voluntary") a few months ago, he would be way ahead of where he is now. So in that case, he didn't get maximum points from me (and probably even less from a lot of other people). It is a great thing that he has finally passed the test though, so he can finally learn the defense by being in the field (as opposed to holding a clipboard). It's always known the best way to be great at something is to be in the trenches.

But, let me tell you the reason why the Albert Haynesworth situation has everyone talking. It doesn't only relate to him, how much he got paid, and what shape he's in. What he has done during the past year and a half really hits hard on a lot of people out there, especially working and middle class America. In January 2009, he has signed a 9-figure contract, which is the largest in league history. Later that year, he has had a mediocre season, only recording 4 sacks, leave games, and even lie down on the field quite often because he was exhausted. People who follow this organization then started to question Dan Snyder's investment decision on this guy. The team finished 4-12 for the year (a record that a team with a $100 million dollar player shouldn't be getting).

Then came the off-season. The Redskins fired their coach, fired their management, and the owner even supposedly fired himself and brought in a new general manager, and a new coach. This new management changed a lot, from cutting players, trading (then signing) franchise quarterbacks, to even changing their systems and schemes, with the most notable of the defensive scheme switching from a 4-3 (4 linemen, 3 linebacker) to a 3-4 (3 linemen, 4 linebackers). You can tell everything is starting to change with this organization and things are possibly looking up.

Here's where Albert comes in... I think it was around April, when voluntary workouts started with the Redskins. The organization asked him Albert to show up, and if he takes and cashes the $21 million bonus check due to him... they are expecting him there. Lo and behold, he doesn't show up, and because he doesn't, he upsets his teammates, his coaches, the owner, and most importantly, the fanbase.

Now here's where I believe this particular situation hits a lot of people hard... for the 20 months he has been with the Redskins organization, he has made roughly $32 million dollars (correct me if I'm wrong). So technically, he got paid $8 million for each sack he made last year. Many people would be lucky enough to see $8 million in a lifetime. Most people in America work hard for money, and even lose a lot of money to try to make money, yet this guy doesn't show up for work. Granted this guy worked hard to get the contract he has now, but you usually have to show up for work to get paid what you're due, am I correct?

And in my opinion, you can throw out these "voluntary" excuses, and that he didn't have to do these activities because they were "voluntary". In many workplaces, there are tons of "voluntary" meetings, activities, seminars, and socials that you are not required to attend (some of which, you have to pay for out of your own pocket). However, it is highly suggested you attend them because YOU WANT TO HELP YOUR ORGANIZATION and YOU ULTIMATELY WANT TO BE A BETTER PERSON. Not to mention, like I said a few blogs ago, that you never really know who's watching, and if one of the "higher-ups" see that you are willing to work hard and invest your time in their organization, and see that you truly believe in what they're trying to do, it could eventually lead to a promotion.

So while I'm out here (like the rest of America) is trying to figure out how to make a dollar, and in some cases, even losing money to try to make that dollar, Albert Haynesworth wasn't showing up for work, and not passing conditioning tests (despite being a finely tuned professional athlete), all the while, making millions and millions of dollars. That is what hits hard with a lot of people.

Now will things get better? I'm optimistic and hoping that it will. What's done has been done, and you can't move forward by looking back. He passed his conditioning test, and learning the defense so we can put all that happened last year, and the past few months behind us and focus on the future. And because he can finally practice with the team, there's hope he can turn things around and win back many of the teammates, coaches, and fans. 

As I said in my last post, from heartbreak, failure and disappoint can come greatness. And as a Redskins fan, I'm hoping this is the case here. But only time will tell...


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