In a night full of unpleasant visuals, one of the least pleasant was the sight of Albert Haynesworth lying prone on the field for five seconds while Michael Vick composed an entire villanelle before finding Jason Avant in the back of the end zone for yet another touchdown. Haynesworth offered an explanation for this during open locker room yesterday.
“Well, I got taken out by friendly fire,” Haynesworth said. “It was Vonnie Holliday — he, like, ran into my leg. Then I had, like, a horse, a charley horse in my thigh or whatever.”
Whether you believe Haynesworth’s explanation or not — and I’d say 97% of the people I’ve heard from in my email don’t — I can say this for sure: if it was Holliday who took Haynesworth out of the play, the fire was definitely friendly. Holliday is a thirteen year NFL veteran and generally classy guy, and he’s got nothing but good things to say about the controversial defensive tackle.
“Albert’s a guy,” Holliday said, “he’s from South Carolina, defensive lineman, so we do get a chance to spend time together. We live in the same area. Off the field, great guy. A guy that you want to be around, funny, likes to have a good time.”
And it’s not just an off-the-field friendship. “On the field, he’s funny too,” Holliday said. “The rift between the organization and him, between the new scheme and the coaches and him, kind of shed a bad light on him.”
Holliday is a pros pro, a guy who became a leader in the locker room just weeks after he walked into the building. So when he says that Haynesworth is growing, I tend to believe him. And he most definitely said that: “I think that a lot of things have happened with Al over the course of this preseason, this season, and what I’ve seen is a switch. A light has gone on, something has changed him, in terms of his approach to work, his approach to what’s really important, his approach to how he’s going to go through the rest of the season. And it’s been pretty impressive.”
Holliday also believes — hopes, yes, but seems to believe — that it’s more than just a cursory, surface change. “Some people say [to Haynesworth], ‘Well, now you’re buying in.’ That’s one way to look at it,” Holliday said. “I just think that because of the things that have happened over the course of the season, personally, professionally, he’s changed. And I think he’s changed in a good way.”
It’s a process that Haynesworth seems to have undergone with everyone in the locker room. Here’s Donovan McNabb, in his conference call with Tennessee media yesterday: “Albert has gotten better with everyone,” McNabb said. “Everyone supported him, just like I did early on, and we continue to support him. We’re family over here, a team that has each other’s back in the tough times as well as in the good times. I think for all of us we’d love to see guys be able to be successful. Albert has done a great job for us so far and he’ll continue to do a great job.”
Now as long as all the people who are supportive of Haynesworth don’t also charley-horse him out of the game, maybe the defense will really continue to gel.
Tags: albert haynesworth, vonnie holliday
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