It's hard to believe, especially if you don't have any, but apparently money doesn't guarantee happiness. The latest evidence comes courtesy of Albert Haynesworth, the man the Redskins saw fit to sign to a seven-year, $100 million contract (including $41 million in guarantees) prior the 2009 season, only to bench him for most of 2010 before trading him to the Patriots this offseason for a 2013 fifth-round pick.
On Thursday, Haynesworth took the field as a Patriot for the first time all preseason and showed glimpses of what makes him one of the most disruptive defensive tackles in football. After the game he was unusually ebullient, no doubt happy about his great fortune, both financially (thanks, Dan Snyder!) and personally (thanks, Bill Belichick!).
"To me, it's a career-saving place for me to come," Haynesworth said, according to NESN.com. "I had no idea it would be like this, but it's unbelievable, and I wish I took two years ago and came here."
When asked about the differences between Washington and New England, Haynesworth didn't hesitate.
"You name it." He continued: "You don't have to watch your back or anything like that," he said about playing for the Patriots. "You know everybody is here for you, and I really enjoy that. I know my head coach is for me. I know my owner is for me. I know my players are for me. I feel relaxed. I'm having fun again. I'm having fun playing football again."
You often hear the cliche that "a change of scenery" can be good for a player's career and Haynesworth is living, breathing proof. And it would make for a heartwarming story if not for all the Redskins' fans still bitter about Haynesworth quitting on the team.
Take the Washington Post's Dan Steinberg, for example. He has trouble reconciling the new Big Al with the guy who spent two years in DC collecting a paycheck and not much else. He found this quote from Haynesworth particularly irksome.
“Well, you know what, all said and done, hell, I’d give that money back and then come here," he said Thursday night, when talking about signing with the Redskins.
Sure he would. The man who accepted that 2010 option bonus even when he knew he would subsequently refuse to play the position the Redskins wanted him to play while throwing away a year of his prime would just give back that money to go elsewhere.If there's a lesson here it's this: Skins owner Dan Snyder must be stopped. Haynesworth is clearly at fault for his no-show performance in DC, but he never should've been signed in the first place. But building the roster like you're playing Madden has been a hallmark of the Snyder era, and predictably, it's been a disaster. Hopefully that changes permanently under general manager Bruce Allen. Either way, the fans have every right to be angry.
There is a silver lining of sorts. Whatever happens, Big Al ain't coming back to Washington. "If God forbid I got cut from this team, yeah, I know I can go out there and play for another team, but I feel like this is going to be my last place that I'm going," he said.
So there's that.
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