Warren Sapp, one of the most dominant defensive tackles of all time and a lock for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, slammed Albert Haynesworth for being an overrated defensive tackle who was too lazy to live up to his $100 million contract with the Redskins or revive his career under Patriots head coach Bill Belichick.
Sapp, who now works as an analyst for NFL Network, was never onboard with Haynesworth’s playing style from the beginning, and he didn’t think Haynesworth deserved to be compared with some of the greatest defensive linemen who ever played the game. Sapp spoke with NESN.com on Tuesday after Haynesworth was released by the Patriots.
When Belichick gave Haynesworth a chance this season, Sapp figured he might be the only coach left who could get Haynesworth to increase his level of play after two disastrous years with the Redskins.
“If anybody can, [Belichick] can,” Sapp told NESN.com. “The last thing you want to do is show up and be a turd that Belichick cuts. But that’s what he was.”
So, is Haynesworth’s career over now that he’s been cut by Belichick?
“Who picked Leigh Bodden up?” Sapp said of the former Patriots cornerback who hasn’t been signed since getting released two weeks ago. “That’s normally what happens. When the genius and the master says you’re no good, the league always says, ‘I agree with you.’ A hundred million dollars couldn’t motivate you, and neither could Bill Belichick. Who wants this challenge?”
Sapp pointed out the first five seasons of Haynesworth’s career, in which he amassed 9.5 total sacks. Then, Haynesworth recorded 14.5 sacks in his next two seasons, when he was labeled the most dominant defensive player in football and signed a seven-year, $100 million contract with the Redskins in 2009.
Sapp said he’s never thought highly of Haynesworth’s playing style, noting his work ethic has never been in place for him to reach a level of greatness. So, when analysts mentioned Haynesworth with the likes of himself, Reggie White and some of the other all-time greats, Sapp was put off.
“A lazy guy playing the motor, defensive tackle position, and now you’re the standard?” Sapp said. “It just didn’t go together for me. I don’t remember this guy playing like this, except when it was time to collect the contract. Don’t go to his contract year. Go two years before the contract. Go three years before. He was a two-and-a-half sack guy for five years. You don’t wake up and all of a sudden become the most dominant defender in the game. It doesn’t happen overnight. But for some reason, for that guy, it did. I don’t know if it was [former Titans head coach] Jeff Fisher‘s influence or [former Titans defensive line coach Jim] Washburn, but all of a sudden Haynesworth is the new Reggie White. I’m like, hold on a second. He went to Tennessee and wore No. 92. That’s it. I don’t want to hear this anymore.”
Sapp said Haynesworth wasn’t ever motivated enough to deserve to be in the conversation with the game’s greats. He thought Haynesworth was simply happy with money.
“When your name gets mentioned with one of the great ones, you relish that opportunity,” Sapp said. “You want to seize it. When they first mentioned my name with the great ones, I said, ‘OK, how do I keep this going?’ Because this sounds pretty good. This sounds great to me that I’m being mentioned with the Jerome Browns, the Cortez Kennedys, the Reggie Whites. I like those names. Come on with it. I don’t think that ever motivated him. I don’t think the greats of the game ever motivated him. I think it was a situation where he got a $100 million payday, and he was like, ‘Oh, this is nice. I can run around in Bentleys and Rolls Royces and stuff.’ The work was never there, so he had nothing to fall back on when all the smoke and mirrors went away. The smoke and mirrors did it, but it has to come down to work.”
Sapp backed up that belief by pointing toward Haynesworth’s historic courting in free agency. Sapp said the Buccaneers — his team for nine seasons — offered Haynesworth more money than the Redskins, but Haynesworth turned them down because Tampa wasn’t a big enough market for him. Then, Sapp relayed a story from one of his friends, linebacker London Fletcher.
“London Fletcher was sitting [in the Redskins' locker room] one day, and the media was there,” Sapp said. “Their lockers were side by side. And the media was talking to [Haynesworth] about this $100 million contract. I was like, ‘Wow.’ It’s one thing to get a $100 million contract. It’s another thing to try to collect it. That’s the key to any contract is collecting it, not getting it. You’ve got to collect it in the NFL. They’ll come to you after two years in the NFL and tell you they’re renegotiating and those things. After the media left, he tapped London and said, ‘Man, I just wish it was six years (to get more money per season).’ That should show you what the man is. I never saw it in his play, so when I saw the money, I was like, you have an unmotivated guy who stepped on Andre Gurode‘s head. Stepped on his head in a football game. But now he’s the first $100 million man? I was dumbfounded by it. I’m like, who was he in his first five years in Tennessee?
“So when Bill got him — I love Belichick, I love that defense, I love everything about the man — but you can’t make a turd out of something that he’s not. He’s a turd. When you’re sitting there beside London Fletcher who has more tackles than God and has Pro Bowls, and you’ve got just two? And you start talking about $100 million in six years instead of seven? Are you kidding me?”
Sapp, a Super Bowl champion and seven-time Pro Bowler, was asked if he has ever spoken to Haynesworth.
“No, because normally I’m at Pro Bowls and Super Bowls,” Sapp said. “You have to be on a certain level to be around. Bill Russell said it best. Champions like to hang around with other champions.”