The Washington Redskins’ disgruntled 100-million dollar man, Albert Haynesworth, has been a punching bag for the media due to his inability to pass the team’s conditioning test and thereby get cleared to practice, although training camp is fully underway.
Now, everyone from local D.C. news reporters to ESPN personalities are lining up to attempt the test: a 300-Yard Shuttle performed in 25-yard increments—25 yards down, 25 back. [Watch Super Bowl MVP Drew Brees perform a variation of it.] The Shuttle must be performed twice, with a 3½-minute break between sets. A passing grade for defensive linemen is 70 seconds on the first set and 73 on the second.
Most who have attempted the test have reportedly passed, including a 61-year-old magazine writer and Mike Golic, a former NFL defensive lineman and co-host of ESPN’s "Mike & Mike In The Morning."
So on Sundays this fall, we should expect to see these guys anchoring the line of that newly-deployed, 3-4 defensive front for the 'Skins, yes?
Of course not.
The point is that running a 300-Yard Shuttle, or, for that matter, any mandated conditioning test, does not make an NFL player. In some cases, such as Haynesworth's, training and preparing for a trial of this nature may have a reverse effect on an athlete’s role on the team. In other words, Big Al is being paid his handsome salary not to run fast but to be a massive, space-eating force in the middle of the defensive line.
I’m not justifying his failure to pass the conditioning test. As ESPN football analyst Mark Schlereth stated during a recent ESPN Radio interview, "Conditioning tests are more about 'are you tough enough, have you mentally prepared for this, and can you suck it up [for the team].'"
For this occasion, the spotlight again shines brightest on Haynesworth, because he is the only Redskin required to pass the conditioning test, due to his absence from voluntary off-season workouts. If a player is present for a certain percentage of those sessions, he is cleared to fully participate in camp.
Haynesworth makes his off-season training home at his alma mater, the University of Tennessee, where for the past three summers, he’s trained with Tripp Smith of Competitive Edge Sports. And although he shed nearly 30 pounds off last season's playing weight, Haynesworth did not train for the test. Rather, his focus this off-season was on developing explosive power. So before you call him "soft," "Fat Albert" or "Big Baby," take an inside look at one of Haynesworth’s off-season training sessions:
As the old adage goes, football is a marathon. While he may be unable to pass the Shuttle, the true test will be whether Haynesworth is on the field for a higher percentage of defensive plays this season—something he's struggled with in past years while playing at a heavier weight.
Time—and the clock—will tell.
In the meantime, check out video of Albert Haynesworth on STACK TV for the full library of training videos from his workout.