FOXBORO, Mass. — If Albert Haynesworth could give it all back, he would.
The hulking defensive lineman gushed over his time with the Patriots on Thursday night, and he said if he could do it all over again, he'd give his money back to the Redskins in order to sign with New England in 2009.
Haynesworth can do a lot of special things on the football field, but he can't rewrite history. He said the trade to the Patriots was a career-saver, and he wants to do it right by his new organization
"To me, it's a career-saving place for me to come," Haynesworth said. "I had no idea it would be like this, but it's unbelievable, and I wish I took two years ago and came here."
Haynesworth's run with the Patriots is merely a month old, but he has already shown his value on the field. Granted, he missed the first three preseason games and hasn't practiced all that often, but his limited amount of reps have been high-quality ones. He showed it again Thursday night in the Patriots' preseason finale against the Giants, pushing through one-on-ones and wreaking havoc on double- and triple-teams.
It's been a good start, so much so that there's no end in sight. The speculation that this could be a one-month tryout, or a one-year experiment has hit the backburner for the time being. But when the end comes, Haynesworth claimed his NFL run would be done, too.
"If God forbid I got cut from this team, yeah, I know I can go out there and play for another team, but I feel like this is going to be my last place that I'm going to play," Haynesworth said. "If it doesn't work out here, then I'm not going to play anywhere else."
When pressed about the differences between New England and Washington, Haynesworth said, "You name it," and "You can pull them out of the sky." His respect for Bill Belichick has been starkly different from his heated battles with Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan who, ironically, has long since been one of Belichick's better friends.
"You don't have to watch your back or anything like that," Haynesworth said about playing for the Patriots. "You know everybody is here for you, and I really enjoy that. I know my head coach is for me. I know my owner is for me. I know my players are for me. I feel relaxed. I'm having fun again. I'm having fun playing football again."
Haynesworth, who said his conditioning level felt good but still wants to improve his explosion, also heard the Gillette Stadium crowd give him two loud ovations when he was announced as the tackler on two plays in the first quarter. It's yet another reason why he can't get enough of New England, and that positive attitude could revitalize him as one of the league's most feared defensive players.
That's why he wished he could do 2009 all over again, when the Patriots tried to sign him but he instead took the historic $100 million offer from the Redskins.
"Well, you know what, all said and done, hell, I'd give that money back and then come here," Haynesworth said.