Dan Shaughnessy

Basically, he is outta sight

By Dan Shaughnessy
Globe Columnist / August 21, 2011

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It looks like the 2011 Patriots are destined to be the greatest team in the history of football. This is going to be revenge for Glendale, Ariz., and don’t you forget it.

Tell Mercury Morris and friends to put away the champagne. Even though the Seahawks, Jets, Ravens, Packers, Steelers, Bears, Cowboys, Cardinals, Colts, Vikings, Eagles, Chargers, and Giants have all won playoff games in the four years since the Patriots last won a playoff game, it’s pretty clear that this is the best team ever.

The lockout is in New England’s favor. You saw what Bill’s Boys did to the Jaguars and Buccaneers. It was men against children. The Patriots are deeper, more prepared, and smarter than every other team. It’s obvious. It’s going to be the same thing when they play against teams that are actually trying.

Best of all, they have a secret - and we mean secret - weapon that is almost never seen, rarely practices, and is unlikely to be deployed in a preseason game. Don’t tell the Dolphins, but the Patriots plan to surprise them in the season opener Sept. 12 when they wheel out the great Albert Haynesworth. I can’t wait to see the look on Tony Sparano’s face when he turns to his assistants on that first Monday night and says, “Hey, when did the Patriots get Haynesworth?’’

Other than a fan’s Twitter photo (which surfaced this week) of Albert eating Italian ice on Atlantic Avenue, there was no record of Albert’s whereabouts from Aug. 4 until yesterday, when he watched practice.

“Watched’’ is the key word. Haynesworth did not participate in anything. Not even light running. No one is saying whether he is hurt or out of shape. Bill Belichick says he is “day to day,’’ but won’t say whether he’s planning on Albert for the opener. We don’t know where the Big Fella fits into the 3-4, 4-3, or the vaunted 6-2-and-even.

Despite all this inactivity, many fans believe Albert is going to be a fearsome combination of Dwight Freeney, Big Daddy Lipscomb, and Roosevelt Grier. And everyone at Patriot Place is absolutely thrilled with Albert and his work ethic.

Here’s Patriots defensive line coach Pepper Johnson talking about Albert last week: “He’s very unlike what a lot of you read about. Albert is a great guy. It’s kind of hard to see some of the things that you hear that are negative about him coming from that person. You need to know both sides of the story. His past is his past.’’

Jonathan Kraft was equally positive when he spoke about Haynesworth on 98.5 The Sports Hub’s pregame show Thursday night.

Twinning Haynesworth with Chad Ochocinco (who does practice and even played in the game Thursday), Kraft said, “Each of those guys have truly been nothing but professional. Their teammates are responding to them and they’re both very excited to be here.

“Robert and I sat down with them before they joined our team and had good discussions with each of them. They’re guys that have been in the league a long time with different franchises. And they wanted to come here to play with Coach Belichick.

“I know things have been written about Albert that are just patently wrong. I think everything [Pepper] said earlier in the week was right.

“A lot of people get banged up and bruised, and we don’t want to push the physical side of this until the games start. But I feel pretty strong that people are going to be pretty excited that both of these guys are Patriots when the games kick off.’’

Kraft added, “We just want [them] to understand what it means to be a Patriot and that there are certain things that are as important to us, and in some cases, more important to us, than winning.

“And if you’re going to be a part of this organization, there’s a responsibility and a sense of obligation that comes with it, because in my family’s mind, you’re carrying our last name as well.

“I know some of Albert’s stuff has been talked about, but it’s pretty clear that they both [he and Ochocinco] love football, they both want to play in this organization, and they both want to win and . . . everybody to a man is excited that they’re each a part of this organization.’’

The legion of Patriot sycophants constantly remind us that the Patriots never claim to be different from other organizations. That’s just a creation of the media, they say.

Wrong, fanboys. The Patriots regularly distance themselves from the rest of the league with comments like Kraft’s.

Certain things more important to us than winning.

So there you have it. The Patriots have Haynesworth and they’re not going to be dopes and show him to the opposition. He doesn’t need to practice. It worked with Randy Moss in 2007 (9 catches, 183 yards in the opener after a no-show preseason) and it’ll work again.

Meanwhile, the Patriots PR machine (including actual Patriot employees) prepares to nominate Albert for a Nobel Prize and Time’s Man of the Year.

Never mind the rap sheet that’s longer than Ted Williams’s Hall of Fame plaque. So what if the Redskins gave Albert a $100 million contract, then sent him home for the last four games of 2010 rather than have him around to poison their team.

It’s all good now. Albert is a Patriot. He’s on the straight and narrow.

Forget the past. It’s all about the future.

Haynesworth’s sexual assault trial starts Tuesday in Washington.

Dan Shaughnessy can be reached at

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