Albert Haynesworth is a very large omission from the NFL Players’ Top 100 List
I think — speaking very generally here — the players did a good job capturing which players were among the 100 best in the NFL. Perhaps one of the most surprising things is that two of the top 20 players, as voted on by the players, qualified for unrestricted free agency in the last year or so: Nnamdi Asomugha of the Raiders, and Julius Peppers of the Bears. However, one big name with the same qualifications as those two players was left off the top 100 list presumably because of events that occurred after he signed a large free agent contract.
That player is Albert Haynesworth.
Not only does Haynesworth deserve to be on the list, but depending on his usage pattern, there are a couple of players in the top TEN who don’t offer the impact on the game that Haynesworth does. I have no problem with Ray Lewis, Troy Polamalu, or Julius Peppers being in the top ten on the Top 100. But none of them are quite as dominant at their craft as Albert Haynesworth has been at his over the course of his career.
Haynesworth’s career is in the process of being irreparably stained by his tenure in Washington, and since this is a list with a bias towards the current, the combination of Haynesworth’s recent disappointments, and generally being a pain in the ass to his teammates and other players across the league is going to keep him from reaping the recognition for being a great player from his peers. But whether to prove a point, or simply an objective evaluation of what has been recently, it’s hard to argue that as long as the defining promise of the list is the best 100 players of 2011, Haynesworth needs to be recognized as one of 2011’s best players.
There is plenty of uncertainty over whether the Washington Redskins will even allow Haynesworth to play this season. Certainly, they aren’t going to trade him to the division rival Eagles, who could have had him in the McNabb trade, but now want him with former Titans DL coach Jim Washburn on the staff. And with the Lions out of the running for his services, there aren’t a lot of other options for the Redskins beyond waiting him out and trying to use Haynesworth to the best of their ability. So Haynesworth is very likely to play this season in Washington, and however reluctantly, will probably find his way into Washington’s 3-4 defense because he has no other option.
Once Haynesworth puts his personal pride aside, I think he will find out that he’s actually quite good as a 3-4 nose tackle. Perhaps he’ll be better than any other nose in football. Only time will tell. There’s a lot of days left before he has a Carson Palmer type decision on his hands. And Haynesworth is nothing if prideful. If he has to dominate NFC East teams simply to win his freedom from Washington, I could see the Redskins agreeing to an incentive-based termination of Haynesworth’s contract.
I fully expect Haynesworth to be on the players’ list when they do this again in 2012. I mean heck, Michael Vick is the 20th ranked player on the 2011 list, and who in their right mind would have ranked him above Haynesworth prior to 2010? Haynesworth is both a great football player and a dominating force. And typically, history has shown that those factors aren’t obscured for very long by personal transgressions.