By now, you’ve probably read the letter former Titans and Redskins DT Albert Haynesworth wrote to himself at 14 years old. To me, it’s quite provocative.
There has been plenty of reaction to it online, of course, much of which I’ve studiously tried to avoid. Everyone has their opinion of Haynesworth, and that includes me. Though I often think the media exaggerates players’ behaviors, I think it’s safe to say Haynesworth was not a good guy over the course of his NFL career. That doesn’t make him different from a lot of players out there, of course.
At any rate, here are a couple of points I think are relevant after reading his letter.
- I think a lot of players would make very similar points after concluding their careers. I don’t think Haynesworth is a victim, exactly, but I do think that at some points, he was taken advantage of. Of course, the same can be said of virtually every man, woman and child in America, but that doesn’t make it right.
- Lots and lots of players are ‘played’ by people with influence. Haynesworth charges that someone that Tennessee head coach Phil Fulmer put him in contact with wound up taking his money. That’s tragic but also not uncommon. These young men have so many people coming at them that it’s really hard to know which ones are genuine. How do players reconcile friendship with management? How do they walk the line between finding someone they can trust and someone who is competent? How do they know when someone that is referred to them is really worthy of their confidence? I have no idea. I thought a lot of the ‘Broke’ documentary that was such a popular ’30 for 30′ feature for ESPN was self-aggrandizing, but a lot of it was right on the money (no pun intended).
- “Sure, you only benched as much as some of the safeties at the combine, but you can run. You have that short-burst playing power. You’re going to be a better athlete than 85 percent of the offensive linemen you’re up against.” If you’re an agent, print this sentence out and tape it to your mirror. I can’t tell you how many times a young agent brags to me about how many 225 reps his client can do. Know what? Nobody cares. Bench reps are something that are easy to improve in the weight room. Fast-twitch muscle fiber and the ability to be explosive — that’s what NFL teams will pay for.
- Maybe, just maybe, this story ends happily for Albert. If you read the last couple paragraphs, which describe him flipping properties and actually getting his hands dirty working to improve homes, you see someone who ‘got it.’ This is something that many players never understand. They think their post-career life will be every bit as successful as their pre-retirement life. The work doesn’t end. The players that succeed apply the same work ethic after their playing days are over that they applied during their league days. That may be humbling but it’s true.
I know a lot of these points are pretty on-the-nose, but I thought I’d offer my input. Any surprises that you saw in his letter? I’d love to hear about it in the comments section.