NFL Didn�t Follow Its Own Policy In Fining Haynesworth For His Actions

By Gregory Moore
Updated: October 4, 2006

SAN ANTONIO — �Every employee is entitled to a safe and professional workplace free of criminal behavior, violence and threats against personal safety. Criminal conduct in the workplace or against other employees is prohibited. Any Covered Person who commits or threatens violent acts against coworkers, regardless of whether an arrest is made or criminal charges are brought, shall be subject to evaluation, counseling and discipline, including termination of employment.� � from the NFL�s Personal Conduct Policy It�s something that just befuddles me at the present. Albert Haynesworth gets a five game suspension and the NFLPA wanted to actually put in the paperwork to appeal the suspension. For what? I want someone in that Washington, D.C. office to explain that reasoning. If Gene Upshaw and his crew haven�t figured out why the American public can�t stand his organization right now, it is because of this very act of business as usual. First things first though and the first order of business is to say that Haynesworth will not be contrite and he will do something outrageous again. It�s in his character to be disrespectful t the game and to other human beings. He�s got priors folks. He has kicked a former teammate during practice. He has thrown his helmet down during games in anger outbursts. If he isn�t a classic case for an anger management course then I don�t know who is.

So when I heard the news that the suspension was going to be five games I was floored. I knew the league didn�t have the balls to do something more substantive. What�s the matter Commissioner Goodell, an eight game suspension wasn�t good enough or too hard to fight with the union on? I don�t think so. I think the league shied away from such a punishment because they didn�t want to look like the bad guy in all of this. Yet maybe the league should read their own personal conduct policy. Once again, if the league is about employee safety, then the first paragraph of this op/ed piece is quite befitting of justifying a very harsh punishment.

Let it also be noted that sympathy is only afforded to those who believe they are truly sorry for their actions. Haynesworth wants sympathy and forgiveness because it is not in his character. Yeah right. Just like Adam �Pacman� Jones doesn�t believe that the Tennessee Titans need more guys who are of the goody two shoe variety. The savageness that took place when a play was over is now the hot button on the sociological ramblings of zillions of writers. And that is because of the thinking that Jones and Haynesworth seem to want to have as the basis of them playing a sport that pays them a lot of money. Forgiveness is easy when it�s warranted but when the person asking it has yet to understand that even in a world where brutal strength and big hits brings out the primal beast in all of us, it is the honor and respect of others that allows you not to become the bastion of the zillions of writers wanting your ceremonial head on a platter.

LEAGUE, UNION SHOULD HAVE SENT STERN MESSAGE The union wanted to fight for Haynesworth and get his suspension reduced. That�s typical and under normal circumstances I wouldn�t have had a problem with the union wanting to file a grievance. But in this case I have a major problem and that is the fact that the union has done little to nothing in regards to Andre Gurode�s rights as a player or �employee� of the NFL. I have a problem with the union because instead of them following the very paragraph that they also have on their website under the rules and regulations tab, they have decided that a player who assaulted another player deserves the right to have his case heard in front of an arbitrator. That, in my opinion, is very unacceptable behavior.

Let�s forget the fact that Haynesworth has waved off the appeal on his behalf. That is the first sign of him realizing that he has a problem. Let�s focus on the league�s punishment for a moment. There is an unwritten rule in football that you never do anything to injure a defenseless opponent. You do not clothesline tackle. You don�t chop block. And when it comes to a player who�s head is exposed from being without his helmet in a play, you err on the side of caution. I would have expected the league to stand up for Gurode a lot faster than for Haynesworth. I would have expected the decision makers there to explain to Haynesworth that the union is about protecting one�s financial resources; not about protecting a privilege. That is what I was expecting and I�m sure many other people were expecting the same thing. In essence I was expecting Upshaw and the union to defer not in filing a grievance on behalf of Haynesworth but to actually file one on behalf of Gurode against Haynesworth as a monetary punishment for one union member deliberately harming another. I think many would have called it policing their own.

But that didn�t happen. To date I have not seen a single news report or press release from anyone in the NFLPA saying that they will back Mr. Gurode should he decide to formally press charges against Haynesworth. The only player union representative that backs that idea is Gurode�s teammate, Greg Ellis; the team�s union representative. And the only other players who back that idea happen to be from Gurode�s teammates. That�s expected because he is family to them. But what of the overall family unit that is known as the NFLPA? Where are the other family members in regards to this situation?

The league and the union flubbed this opportunity big time. Albert Haynesworth is a loose cannon and it�s an easy bet that he is probably more comfortable apologizing in front of television crews than to those he inflicts harm on. This punishment of five games is awfully weak. Whether people like it or not, I think this act deserves the ultimate punishment and that is being fired from the Titans. Floyd Reese, Jeff Fisher and Bud Adams need to send a serious message from the Titans� front office that savage acts on or off the field and borderline criminal acts will not be tolerated in that organization.

The team needs to take this further now and simply deactivate Haynesworth for the rest of the season for actions detrimental to the welfare of the franchise. Pay him the rest of his salary but have him sit at home with his kids. That�s the message that should have been sent by the league and the union should be backing such a decision. After all if both organizations truly believe in that very first paragraph, then the ultimate punishment would have been dealt and the rest of us would be feeling a little better about ourselves as sports fans of the game.