Talented. Distant. Underachiever. Malcontent. Dirty. Dominant. There are many single-word phrases one could use to describe one Albert Haynesworth, Professional Defensive Tackle … but one would not generally be "Mentor." A guy who basically malingered his way off the rosters of the Washington Redskins and New England Patriots in the last year wouldn't generally be seen to be the kind of teammate you'd want your younger players to look up to.
However, according to Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman, Haynesworth has been that kind of guy since the Bucs recently picked him up. Talking on his weekly radio show on WDAE, Freeman praised Haynesworth's approach to the game. Haynesworth has said some things about how some of the Bucs' young defensive players don't know how to let a bad play go and move on, which also leads to defenders being afraid to make mistakes.
"I had a conversation on Monday about it, and I think it's great," Freeman said. "You've got a veteran guy who's been around the league and played with different teams, and he's seen it done every which way. For him to see that and relay the message that it's a long game, and there's so much that goes on — you can't let one small thing affect you, whether it's a play or a penalty."
Well, if anyone would know about how to let go of his mistakes, it would be Haynesworth. That said, he did have a good game against the Houston Texans last Sunday, and his five-tackle performance showed what he's still capable of when he actually wants to play football.
"Talking to him, he enjoys the locker room and the camaraderie we have from teammate to teammate," Freeman continued. He feels like he's in a good place."
Having seen players have their outlooks changed by the right locker room and overall circumstance, I'm willing to partake of the notion that if there's more good football left in Albert Haynesworth, it could very well be consistently seen in Tampa Bay. It's still a very long shot, but he's playing in a defense he likes, and he apparently sees a role for himself beyond the bench, or planking on the field, or wasting the money of capricious owners.
Could Albert Haynesworth actually have a positive football future? Stranger things have happened.