"Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me." -- F. Scott Fitzgerald. In 1926.
Who knew that he and Albert Haynesworth were acquainted?
With $32 million in his pocket and no sense of obligation to the people who paid him, the very large defensive lineman (that would be Haynesworth and not Fitzgerald) stiffed his team on Wednesday by failing to show up for a mandatory minicamp.
He wasn't here for any of the voluntary work, he isn't here for the mandatory sessions and he said in a statement released Tuesday night through his agent that he wants to be traded.
Other people like having jobs. Most of us would be happy to say we have $32 in our wallets and $320 in the bank. Forget about $32 million.
Selfish, self-centered, self-serving, help yourself to any of the descriptions Haynesworth's teammates offered of him after their rain-shortened workout.
"Selfish," said defensive end Phillip Daniels.
Can we get an amen?
"I agree with the assessment that Albert has made a very selfish decision," linebacker London Fletcher said. "When you decide to play a team sport, you have to think about everybody involved in the situation. This is not golf or tennis where it's an 'all about you' sport."
There are good teammates and bad teammates, in every workplace and locker room. We show some loyalty to our employers. We hope our employers return the favor. We want to be productive, engaged and someone our co-workers count on and respect.
Okay, not all of us. For some, it's strictly about getting paid. So if Haynesworth doesn't fall into the first camp, he's surely in the second. The ideal world blends those aspects. Please, please, please tell me how to book passage to such a paradise.
Part of getting paid, so far as the standard NFL contract reads, is that the player report, practice and play to get paid. That's reality.
Haynesworth has his issues. What he, his agent and club management discussed about his role when he signed his seven-year contract in 2009 may well be as his side presents it. Even if that is true, the world changes and people must change with it.
Or not. Maybe they can remake the world, or at least their chunk of it. Which seems to be Haynesworth's goal.
After a 4-12 season, the Redskins altered their landscape significantly. The new general manager, Bruce Allen, and the new head coach, Mike Shanahan, hired a staff, determined the best ways to use personnel and began to install different schemes.
It is the 3-4 defense that Haynesworth appears to dislike most.
Of course he was not enamored of the style of 4-3 the Redskins ran last year. He said he felt too restricted, too limited, that former defensive coordinator Greg Blache kept him from making plays, where the Tennessee Titans permitted his free-lancing.
"What he's decided to do is make a decision based all about him and it's no different than his attitude and approach to last year's defense and wanting everything to revolve around him," Fletcher said.
Now Haynesworth won't even give the 3-4 a look. He turned up his nose at playing nose tackle, though how much the Redskins would have used him in the middle is still an open question. Most likely he'd have been the right end.
"I don't understand it," defensive lineman Kedric Golston said. "Football is football. In any job, you might not like everything but it's always working toward a greater good. I can't speak for Albert because I don't know what he's thinking."
The Redskins have said repeatedly they expect their defensive linemen to move around, to play more than one position. Nose tackle often gets the reputation of all dirty work and no glory but look at the Pro Bowl roster from last year.
Three defensive tackles made the AFC team and two of them were pure nose tackles (Vince Woolfork, Casey Hampton). One of the four on the NFC side (Jay Ratliff) was a nose tackle. This is clearly a valued position and one more in vogue with about half of the league now lining up in a 3-4.
How many players in the NFL get to do exactly what they want, whenever they want?
Some teams don't allow their quarterbacks to audible. The quarterback does not demand a trade. Most running backs would like the ball on every play but that's no way to run an offense. The running backs don't demand a trade. Plenty of linebackers would love to blitz on every down but they must play in coverage instead. They don't ask for a trade.
Football is about fitting in. About being one of the guys. When one of those guys is among the highest paid in the league, blessed with talent and size, his teammates expect leadership, not endless disruption.
Redskins players grew weary last year of attempting to get Haynesworth's attitude adjusted. They talked and cajoled and ultimately did not succeed. Now this.
Let us note that Fletcher has played 12 seasons, most of them in a 4-3 defense as a middle linebacker, and now becomes an inside linebacker in a 3-4. He's here. He knows accountability counts.
"I want teammates who I can depend on, who I can count on, who in the fourth quarter of a situation I know is going to be there to make a play or to do his job that the defense calls, whether his responsibility is holding up a lineman or penetrating a gap, containing the quarterback, things like that," Fletcher said. "We need people we can depend on and right now he's shown that he can't be depended upon."
Haynesworth has made his stance clear. The Redskins will formulate a strategy to deal with him. The issue will linger until there's a suitable resolution and what will that be? Threats? Fines? Fining a multi-millionaire probably won't buy a lot of happy compliance.
Getting this team put right after consecutive playoff absences and a 12-20 record over the past two years never figured to be easy.
"Last year we had a lot of selfishness and 4-12 took place," Fletcher said. "We can't have that."
Fixing it requires change and hard work, both of which Haynesworth rejects. In part because he can.
"Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me."
F. Scott Fitzgerald. In 1926. True then, true now.