I was unfortunate enough to have ESPN’s Monday Night Countdown on in the background before the embarrassment at FedEx this week. The “analysts” — Mike Ditka, Keyshawn Johnson, Cris Carter, Tom Jackson — started the show by taking turns shitting on the Redskins via the infinite wisdom they’ve acquired from having played or coached the game some time ago followed by years of being casual observers, paid to give opinions based on nothing more than their “I Played in the Nat-i-null Foot-bawl League” membership card.
Here was the best of the bunch: Ditka’s thoughts on the signing of Albert Haynesworth:
You bring in a guy for 100 million dollars — 40-something guaranteed — and the guy can’t play. And you knew it. If you’d asked Tennessee, they’d told you he’s not worth that amount of money. He plays 25-30 plays a game, IF he plays at all. And payin’ him that kind of money. He’s gonna make you better? Come on.
Everything after the word “guaranteed” is wrong. Haynesworth “can’t play”? He was widely consider one of the best defensive players in the league after last season. He finished fourth in Defensive POY voting. The entire argument is complete fiction. And Remember: This LED the show. That quote you see above was the first bit of analysis on Monday Night Countdown. That was the best they’ve got. And it’s total fucking horseshit.
Via Ryan O’ Halloran at the Times (we suggest you follow him on Twitter), here are the number of snaps Haynesworth has played in each game this season, compared to the total number of snaps the defense played:
NYG 46 of 64 = 72%
Stl 45 of 53 = 85%
Det 36 of 79 = 46%
TB 45 of 57 = 80%
Car 50 of 63 = 80%
KC 56 of 74 = 76%
Phila 42 of 58 = 72%
Not once has Haynesworth only played “25-30 plays” this season. Even in the Lions game, in which he was hurt (like, actually hurt, not “I need a breather” hurt), he was in on 36 plays.
Don’t get me wrong: Haynesworth takes breaks. We all see him on the sideline on occasion, gasping for air, grabbing an ankle, whatever. But keep in mind: This is a 350+ pound defensive tackle going up against double-teams all game. So, he is essentially attempting to push about 600-700 pounds of human backwards about 45-50 times a game. That’s exhausting.
I don’t have the numbers, but I would guess that the percentage of snaps played by massive tackles who routinely go against double-teams throughout the league is very similar to Haynesworth’s. Just because he is being paid superhuman money doesn’t mean he isn’t human. Give the man a break. Shit.
(I realize Ditka saying something illogical is not uncommon, but I hear a similar argument to the one presented here fairly often, so consider this post just a general address to the haters.)