Two years have brought two seasons of nonstop nonsense for the Washington Redskins. The downtrodden franchise, once among the best in the league, finally rid themselves July 28 of the 6-foot, 6-inch, 335-pound headache that was Albert Haynesworth.

Mark the date on your calendar, Redskins Nation—July 28, 2011, the day Washington shipped the former all-pro to the franchise where all former all-pros go to resurrect their career: the New England Patriots.

Getting rid of Haynesworth was a must for the team’s future, but also a symbol of all of their moves over the past few years: Washington botched it yet again. The Patriots dealt just a 2013 fifth-round pick for Haynesworth’s services, marking the second time in four years that New England has swindled a team, getting a talented NFL veteran for peanuts.

In two years, Haynesworth was all but worthless for Washington, recording 6.5 sacks in just 20 games after signing a record seven-year, $100-million contract in 2009. At the time, it was believed that the Redskins were getting the most disruptive defensive player in the league. For what it’s worth, Washington did in fact get the most disruptive defensive player in the league—but the disruption didn’t take place during actual games as he squabbled with coaches over the position he would play and, they claimed, a refusal to cooperate.

Haynesworth will probably go on to resurrect his career in New England, playing in their multiple defensive set that employs both the 3-4 and 4-3 alignments. He balked at the idea of playing as a 3-4 nose tackle in D.C., but with veteran All-Pro Vince Wolfork manning the middle in New England, Haynesworth will shift to defensive end in their 3-4 sets and back to tackle when they deploy their 4-3. Patriots coach Bill Belichick knows what he’s doing.

It wouldn’t be a surprise to see Haynesworth return to his days of dominance as a Patriot. When a player has risen to dominance playing one position, you don’t try to enforce your will, line him up at another position and expect the same results. Haynesworth’s behavior deserves no excuses, but Washington’s handling of the situation should be questioned as well.

Fans in the District are going to be rooting for him to fail in Beantown, partly because of his sour attitude and the lack of commitment he displayed while he was here. But perhaps the real reason ‘Skins fans will root against Haynesworth is that any success he finds there will only prove how far behind the football curve this Washington organization really is.

The goals in the NFL are to compete, to win and to sell tickets. The team just dealt Haynesworth to New England for nothing and Donovan McNabb to Minnesota for practically less than nothing. Washington has finished at the bottom of the NFC East for the last three seasons, but how bad is this franchise, really? The 2011 seasons of McNabb and Haynesworth will be the measuring stick.


Stephen D. Riley

Special to the AFRO