- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 1, 2009


“He was just camping down in the lane. I mean, if they’re not calling three seconds - I thought it was a rule, but I guess not.” - Toronto’s Chris Bosh after Shaquille O’Neal scored 45 points in Phoenix’s win Friday over the Raptors


Like anyone else with a pulse, Albert Haynesworth said he was “astounded” by his $100 million-plus deal with the Washington Redskins, $41 million of which is guaranteed. But make no mistake. Although fat contracts (and this one qualifies as morbidly obese) get a lot of attention, they are the exception in the NFL.

Until Haynesworth signed early Friday morning, the story of the week was the Tampa Bay Buccaneers releasing future Hall of Famer Derrick Brooks and other quality starters. That’s the real NFL, the one Jerry Glanville famously said stood for “Not For Long.”

Brooks has had a lengthy career and might sign with another team, but the point is that life in the NFL is a dangerous and risky existence. Unlike in the other major sports, only a relative few contracts are guaranteed. The one certainty is that, given the prevailing threat of injury and the incessant wear and tear, it’s a precarious way to earn a living.

The subject of the overpaid athlete has been hammered thoroughly by fans probably since the Romans raced chariots. It’s a valid discussion, but the NFL is different. A fortunate few, like Haynesworth, are set for life, and so are the next 10 generations of their families. But in a sport where the average career lasts 3 1/2 years, most players are considered no more than replaceable parts, and are treated accordingly.

TWT FIVE ” Redskins free agent busts

1. Dana Stubblefield, DT, 1998 - Had 15 sacks for the 49ers in 1997, but seven for the Redskins during the next three years.

2. Jeff George, QB, 2000 - Replacing quality starter Brad Johnson with the noted malcontent helped set the franchise back a few years.

3. Deion Sanders, CB, 2000 - The “ultimate weapon” according to owner Dan Snyder was the ultimate symbol of the club’s misguided spending.

4. Jeremiah Trotter, LB, 2002 - Big contract, mediocre numbers and back to Philly after just two seasons.

5. Adam Archuleta, S, 2006 - Started total of seven games after becoming the highest-paid safety in the NFL.

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