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SIMMONS: Haynesworth lesson in not playing nice

Are you ready for some football? Whether your answer is no or in the affirmative, a professional athlete is offering a perfect learning tool for parents whose children play team sports.

The NFL season kicked off Thursday night with two of Americas favorite quarterbacks, Drew Brees and Brett Favre, and on Sunday night the Washington Redskins and the Dallas Cowboys take the field in a classic American showdown.

The rivalry is reality TV at its finest, but this season there's a hitch.

Drama queens and kings have "The Real Housewives of D.C.," and Redskins and Dallas fans will have "The Albert Haynesworth Show," whose season ender might now hit the airwaves until Redskins fans learn whether their team will be playoff contenders. (My fingers have been crossed since Redskins owner Daniel Snyder hired Bruce Allen as general manager and Mike Shanahan as coach.)

In the meantime, somebody needs to tackle Mr. Haynesworth and put a Pampers diaper on his huge behind, because he isnt acting like a team player. Perhaps the Big Guy making the big bucks wasnt weaned properly.

Mr. Snyder promised Mr. Haynesworth $100 million to do with the Redskins what hes been doing since he was a freshman at the University of Tennessee - knock the socks off offenders.

The agreement was mutual, but Mr. Haynesworth doesnt want to seem to hold up his end of the seven-season bargain.

A defensive tackle, he began complaining last season after an embarrassing drubbing by the New York Giants, saying the teams disciplined approach on defense prohibited him from creating havoc.

Instead of leveling on-field threats, Mr. Haynesworth leveled one off the field, saying he wasnt certain hed be able to "survive another season" if the defensive system failed to change.

Hence, the Haynesworth watch. A paternity suit brought by a New York stripper. Several traffic violations. A $2.3 million lawsuit filed by a bank. Opting out of voluntary training camp. Opting out of two voluntary minicamps.

By June, when he began whining yet again - this time about Mr. Shanahans defense strategy - even his teammates were calling him selfish. The Haynesworth soap opera went viral when he was a no-show at mandatory minicamp.

Now, with the Skins facing the Boys in a season opener, the Big Guy continues to make himself the center of attention.

Every player in team sports has a role to play. Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan learned the hard way that personal statistics are important, but if an athlete puts himself above the concept of team, then he should switch to tennis or golf.

In a press conference this week, Mr. Shanahan was grilled on rumors that the troublesome Mr. Haynesworth would be traded back to the Tennessee Titans, where the Big Guy earned the reputation of being the most dominant defenseman in all of pro football.

Mr. Shanahan tried his best to quash the yakety-yak. "He will be with the team on Sunday," he said.

Mr. Haynesworth has been blessed with the financial fortunes of an owner who is paying him to work. But this ongoing drama is not about money.

Its about the intangibles, such as character, integrity, putting forth your best efforts and a man keeping his word.

The Redskins, like the NFLs other 31 teams, trimmed its roster to the maximum 53 players and Mr. Haynesworth survived.

His performance on and off the field of play is the only thing that matters now.

The Haynesworth soap likely wont fade after fans leave FedEx Field Sunday night, which means parents still have plenty of show-and-tell opportunities. Imagine, for instance, a DVD underscoring the selfish antics of Mr. Haynesworth, Terrell Owens (who had his own reality show) and other high-profile players who think "me first."

A smart entrepreneur could make such a coaching tool happen, and it would sell like hot cakes at a tailgating party in Any City, USA.

c Deborah Simmons can be reached at dsimmons@washingtontimes.com.

© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

About the Author
Deborah Simmons

Deborah Simmons

Award-winning opinion writer Deborah Simmons is a senior correspondent who reports on City Hall and writes about education, culture, sports and family-related topics. Mrs. Simmons has worked at several newspapers, and since joining The Washington Times in 1985, has served as editorial-page editor and features editor and on the metro desk. She has taught copy editing at the University of ...

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