Shutdown Corner - NFL

Well, here's the latest on the ongoing Albert Haynesworth(notes) vs. the Washington Redskins saga: Haynesworth personal trainer Tripp Smith says that the defensive lineman has dropped 32 pounds since he started working out with Smith in April.

"Albert, he's the type of person that doesn't want to disappoint anybody, but he's very business-minded," Smith recently told Fredicksburg.com. "I think it has motivated him quite a bit, just seeing what his teammates are saying about him and seeing what everybody in the press is saying about him." 

Haynesworth's teammates have expressed concern about his conditioning and how he looked winded during games. 

Dropping 32 pounds from what weight is what we don't know — maybe Haynesworth was heading to IHOP every morning during his extended holdout and he now needs to get back to his playing weight of 340-350.

However, there's another theory making the rounds: that Haynesworth is dropping pounds from that playing weight in order to force the Redskins to play him outside at 3-4 end. At 310-320, he might be a less-appealing nose tackle, the position he clearly doesn't want to play. Lighter nose tackles like Jay Ratliff(notes) of the Dallas Cowboys play different gap schemes and have bigger ends around them.

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At age 29, Haynesworth may want to be less concerned about his sacks and more worried about his legacy. As great as former New York Jets lineman Joe Klecko was, the main reason he still gets Hall of Fame consideration is the fact that he made Pro Bowls as a defensive end, defensive tackle and nose tackle. There's a respect for players like Klecko that Haynesworth will never get if he keeps resisting the change.

— Speaking of linemen who won't see the inside of a 3-4 defense anytime soon, the indefinite suspension of Green Bay Packers end/tackle Johnny Jolly(notes) might lead one to believe that there's either more to his story than a little bit of purple drank, or that the NFL is (finally) taking the problem more seriously. Jolly was arrested outside a club in Houston in 2008 with more than 200 grams of codeine in his possession, and his upcoming drug trial speaks to the increasing use of the street drink in the league. Former San Diego Chargers end and current NFL analyst Marcellus Wiley first became aware of the problem when teammate Terrence Kiel, who died in a car crash in 2008, was busted for shipping prescription cough syrup to Texas. From AP:

"It doesn't have the negative connotation it should, the same negative connotation there is with crack cocaine or heroin," said Wiley, an ESPN analyst. "People think of this purple drank as kind of a cool thing. Because people think it's cool, it invades that mentality, invades that culture, without alerting people to the dangers of it. [...]

"Before that, it was more relegated to the entertainment world," he said. "I had heard that in the South especially some of the rappers mentioned syrup, purple drank. It was kind of part of that subculture, but it never invaded the locker room, it never invaded pro athletics, until the Terrence Kiel incident."

The NFL is putting its figurative head in the sand on this issue. Just as game-related concussions have never caused long-term brain damage (ahem), there is not an increasing problem with purple drank in the league. At least according to NFL spokesman Greg Aiello. "We do not see evidence of a particular problem among NFL players beyond what we see in normal society," Aiello recently said. Well, we'll see.

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— Pete Carroll's recent book tour hasn't gone as well as the eternally optimistic Carroll would like. The new head coach of the Seattle Seahawks is getting more heat than expected during media jags for his "Win Forever" book. Specifically, the media seems to want to know what Carroll knew about the actions that led to USC's recent sanctions. Carroll seems surprised that people aren't satisfied with his standard "I don't know what was going on" answer, which does seem rather disingenuous when Carroll was in charge of the football team for a decade. During a recent interview with Andrea Kremer on HBO's "Real Sports," Carroll said that he would have stopped the improprieties had he known what was going on.

At best, Carroll's "we didn't have the awareness to know" defense portrays him as a man with a worrisome lack of institutional control. At worst, he knew more that he's saying, and now, he's trying to fabricate an alternate reality.

Personally, I think it's absolutely ridiculous that college athletes don't get paid when they bring so many billions of dollars in revenue to their schools. I also think that Pete Carroll is a fundamentally good person who may have gotten in over his head in this department. But the rules are what they are, and the USC issues weren't representative of a group of people working for the greater good. It was the usual story of people with their hands out, and the system getting played. What Carroll knew is less important than the fact that the story is still so nebulous.

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