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Bob Ryan

End of the line

The time had come to say 'uncle' on Albert

By Bob Ryan
Globe Columnist / November 9, 2011

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Well, let’s see. He was signed on July 29. He made it to Labor Day, Opening Day, and Columbus Day. But he couldn’t make it to Veterans Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, or the playoffs.

Guess that rapport Albert Haynesworth supposedly had with Coach Bill wasn’t so great after all.

Coach Bill was classically disingenuous after Sunday’s game with the Giants. No, no, no, he said. The fact that Albert didn’t play in the final 24 minutes of the game did not mean the coach was unhappy with his overall performance. The fact that he had a little public sideline row with assistant coach Pepper Johnson had no bearing on anything.

Oh, no, no, no. It was a rotation issue. This team is so clearly awash in talent that it’s difficult to find sufficient playing time for all the top-quality defensive linemen on his roster. Of course. How could we laypeople be so unaware?

“We had a lot of defensive linemen active, and they played in different rotations,’’ Bill Belichick explained Monday, with, I might add, a straight face. “Vince [Wilfork] is a guy, obviously, that we don’t want off the field, but the rest of the guys, they can’t all play. One guy plays for a while, and then somebody else plays, and they rotate.’’

We - you, me, the entire Western world - are supposed to accept this ludicrous explanation for Albert’s absence at face value. The coach’s contempt for the rest of us, and our intelligence, is relentless.

I must admit, I’m with him on the Wilfork thing. Even a layman such as I recognizes that Vince Wilfork indeed can play this game.

But Coach Bill made it clear yesterday that Albert Haynesworth cannot - at least not to his satisfaction. Albert Haynesworth has been rotated to the unemployment line.

The Grand Experiment is over, having lasted 102 days. That’s 30 days longer than the Kim Kardashian-Kris Humphries marriage, for those of you scoring at home.

Coach Bill may or may not be familiar with the Kardashian clan, but he is familiar with the National Football League, and what he did by trying to extract Albert Haynesworth’s legendary raw talent on behalf of the New England Patriots was a reasonable gamble. Coach Bill gave the Washington Redskins a fifth-round draft pick, and he did not take on a great deal of salary.

If it worked out, great, the Patriots had stolen one. And if it didn’t, it was pretty much going to be no harm, no foul. The option was always there to dump Mr. Haynesworth if things did not work out. And so they have.

We all knew the pros and cons from the start.

Great player. Check that, great talent. Talent is merely a start. A great player also has work habits, dedication, and a sense of professionalism. A great player strives to make full use of his talent. Haynesworth has great tools. If you were to draw up a defensive lineman, you’d probably like one who’s about 6-6, 330 and has great feet and explosiveness. In other words, Albert Haynesworth.

But, oh boy, are there any number of “buts’’ with him. What’s the first time most of us ever even heard of Albert Haynesworth? I’m talking about the generic sports fan, not people who would like to trade places in life with Mel Kiper Jr. It was when Haynesworth stomped on the head of Cowboys center Andre Gurode.

He made the Pro Bowl in 2007 and 2008, but he also attracted the attention of law enforcement authorities on several occasions. When he arrived here, he had a court date pending from an alleged groping of a waitress back in February. A settlement was reached and Albert took his place with the Patriots.

The hook here was going to be Albert’s relationship with two people, Bill Belichick and Vince Wilfork. The coach was supposed to be a Haynesworth fan dating from those good ol’ Senior Bowl days. Wilfork was supposed to be a buddy from those aforementioned Pro Bowls.

The first idea was that Albert never would disrespect Coach Bill by giving anything less than a thousand percent effort. The second idea was that Albert would join forces with his friend Vince to terrorize opposing offensive lines, something, he said, they had discussed doing since becoming amigos at those aforementioned Pro Bowls.

Playing for the Patriots, in other words, was motivation enough for Albert to play the way he was once capable of playing.

“This is a great organization,’’ he said during his first Foxborough media encounter. “I’ve been a fan of theirs for a long time.’’

There was a lot of splendid rhetoric being spewed forth that day. It all sounded good, but our mommas didn’t raise no fools, and most members of the media were very careful to preach caution.

Believing anything Albert Haynesworth said was a risky proposition. We all urged our readers, viewers, and listeners to be wary of his words. It was probably all unnecessary. Anyone who had followed the NFL for the past five years knew that Albert Haynesworth was not someone to be trusted.

There are no new lessons to be learned here. There were never any illusions. It was always a gigantic hope that Albert Haynesworth would marry his undeniable talent with a will to be great. Had it happened, it would have been a beautiful thing.

We are now halfway through the 2011 season. I’m guessing the over/under on how long Albert Haynesworth was going to be a New England Patriot was eight, right from the start. Most people probably took the under.

Bob Ryan is a Globe columnist and host of Globe 10.0 on Boston.com. He can be reached at ryan@globe.com.

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