So, Farewell Then Albert Haynesworth
11 November 2011
Albert Haynesworth left the Patriots earlier this week. He was pushed.
Some people reading this might be thinking, who in the name of Batman is Albert Haynesworth? For those people, here's a quick explanation. Everyone else, talk amongst yourselves.
Albert is one of those big heavy blokes who play American football, but don't really do anything other than try to stop other people doing stuff. They're there to tackle and bring down and break up and leave a scorched field of destruction every time a nancy boy quarterback waits a second too long to throw his pass.
Albert played for Tennessee for five years and did a fine job. His contract ended and he was free to go to the highest bidder, which turned out to be Washington, who gave him a contract worth $100m. That's a big number, but NFL contracts always have big numbers, and rarely, if ever, does a player stay until the end of the contract, thereby getting to see all that money. The media just like to print big numbers. That's not to say that Albert didn't get a lot of money from Washington. He spent it, mostly on doughnuts, and from the off did not do a very good job. A new head coach arrived and they didn't get on.
Albert finished last season sitting at home watching football on TV; that is, if he was even watching football at all, he might possibly have been watching poverty porn and eating quadruple deep-fried bananaburgers with custard. It's kind of like what's happening with Fernando Torres at Chelsea, although imagine that Fernando Torres had doubled in weight and, rather than trying his heart out and looking really sad and depressed like a kid who's dropped his lollipop every time he fluffs the ball over the bar, he looked like he couldn't be fucked crossing the halfway line, never bothered chasing after a ball, and only showed a turn of pace when the ice cream van sounded in the street outside the stadium. Torres inspires pity, while Albert inspired loathing, hatred and a rational desire to hold him down and inject some work ethic formula into his substantial backside.
Albert needed redemption, and got the chance this summer when Bill Belichik's New England Patriots traded for him. In return the Patriots gave Washington a voucher for a twelve pack of Krispy Kremes.
Until last Sunday it seemed to be going all right. Albert wasn't great, but as far as anyone could tell he appeared to be at least applying himself, and was slowly - admittedly, very slowly - finding his feet. I believe we all had our hope that eventually he would turn into Tennessee Albert, rather than Washington Albert, and that the Patriots defence would stop playing like a charity and start acting like a marauding Visigoth horde. And then on Sunday he was shit, got pushed around a few times, came off, got a roasting from one of the coaches, said his bit in return, and then on Tuesday he was gone. Some say that the Patriots took the opportunity to clear his locker while Albert was snacking at the mobile Dunkin' Donuts van that took up residence outside the Patriots practice facility the day they traded for him.
He's already been picked up by Tampa Bay, the team owned by the owners of Manchester United; the only team who seem happy trailing across the Atlantic once a year for a game in London. Maybe Albert will be in London next October, if he lasts that long. Maybe, while in Britain, he'll discover fish suppers and deep fried Mars Bars.
What can we learn from the tale of Albert? That sometimes when you give people a huge amount of money for something they're good at, they quit trying and become rubbish. Which is something that people who are in a position to give other people a lot of money ought to know by now. Someone at Piatkus Books once said to me that you could spot the point in The Horse Whisperer where Nicholas Evans was given his enormous advance and gave up trying. I read The Horse Whisperer but couldn't spot it. I think there was some publishing jealousy at play. With Albert, however, the point of decline was precipitous and obvious.
So farewell then, Albert Haynesworth. When you were around, no one had to ask Who ate all the pies?