Wednesday September 8th, 2010

If one is so inclined, he can visit the Washington Redskins' website and order a replica Albert Haynesworth jersey for $89 plus tax.

Because, after 11 years of Daniel Snyder's reign of inanity, there remains only one Redskins fan left on the planet. I e-mailed him. Greg Orlando, writer, video game reviewer and Kelly Goodburn enthusiast, believes in standing by his team. He's stood through Heath Shuler and Michael Westbrook, through Dana Stubblefield and Dan Wilkinson. He's hoped for the best and, over the past decade, endured the absolute worst.

So would he fork over the 89 bucks?

"No way," Orlando wrote. "I can think of a lot of better things to spend that money on."

I asked him to name five.

He did ...

1. Dignity

2. A buzz saw and tickets to see Carrot Top.

3. Some type of scalding machine.

4. $89 worth of $1 tacos.

5. Enough Pepto to make the tacos pass without incident.

In short, Orlando can't stand Albert Haynesworth -- not the sight of him, not the sound of his name, not the (increasingly remote) possibility that the defensive tackle might remain on Washington's roster throughout the 2010 season. He hates what he symbolizes, which is everything wrong with the modern professional athlete.

Greg Orlando is 100 percent correct.

In 16 years of covering sports, through Latrell Sprewell and David Beckham, Stephon Marbury and Bobby Petrino, I have never come across a figure with the audacity of Haynesworth, who signed a seven-year, $100 million contract in 2009 (that paid him $32 million over the first 13 months) and has behaved like 4-year-old brat ever since. A two-time Pro Bowler with the Titans, Haynesworth appeared in 12 games in his debut season with the Redskins, accumulating a whopping 56 tackles and four sacks. To say he performed like a dog would be great insult to Norma, my cockapoo. Haynesworth barely existed.

In what appears to be one of Snyder's wiser personnel decisions, Mike Shanahan was hired this past January as Washington's new head coach. After watching the overmatched Jim Zorn bumble around for two seasons, everyone in the nation's capital was ecstatic -- save for Haynesworth. He refused to participate in the club's mandatory June mini-camp because -- boo-hoo -- defensive coordinator Jim Haslett operates a 3-4 system, which Big Albert deemed unsuitable for his skills. He then proceeded to lobby for a trade, to which Shanahan (who, having once coached for Al Davis, knows a selfish lunatic when he sees one) offered an unspoken-yet-100-percent clear "I'd take a bottle of spit and two tickets to a Belinda Carlisle concert to get you out of my life!"

Yet when nothing clicked, Haynesworth accepted a $21 million bonus check from the Redskins. In other words, enough dough to purchase Abraham Lincoln's remains and the Beatles' entire catalog entered Haynesworth's bank account.

So what happens next?

Haynesworth arrives at training camp in lousy shape, finally passing Shanahan's conditioning test on the third try. Then, in last Thursday's preseason finale against the Cardinals, he shows no effort, skips the halftime team meeting and ignores instructions from the coaching staff.

Here's the capper: According to multiple sources, the Titans and Redskins are talking about a trade. Which means Haynesworth might get exactly what he wanted (Warning to the Titans: Be careful what you wish for).

But at what price? Four seasons ago, in a Kermit Washington-esque display of rage, Haynesworth stomped on the head of Cowboys center Andre Gurode. He was suspended five games without pay and all but branded a Dobler-like villain. Yet over time, through exceptional play and visible contrition, Haynesworth regained his good name. Fans, you see, are generally willing to let bygones be bygones. We all make mistakes. We all lose our temper. Things happen in the heat of battle.

This, though, is different. When a professional athlete is handed $100 million, he is expected to perform, and perform brilliantly. When he doesn't -- when he whines and pouts and cries about not being appreciated -- the average fan moves on.

There are a lot of places out there willing to accept a person's hard-earned money. Compared with paying to watch Albert Haynesworth loaf through a football game, $89 worth of $1 tacos sounds pretty darn good.

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