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FIRST PERSON: Hold on for the hold outs
by Paul Shirley
Date: Aug 11, 2010

BRANDON, Fla. (BP)--Football season is upon us, and around this time of year two things always come to my mind.

The first thing that comes to my mind is, “Big deal, it's still baseball season!” After that thought, as I try and get myself excited about another NFL season, my mind always seems to come back to 2 Thessalonians 3:10. Here the apostle Paul writes, “For even when we were with you, we used to give you this order: if anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either.”

At this point you may be wondering why this particular verse seems to rattle around in my head this time of year. It’s simple — hold outs.

Inevitably at the beginning of the season one the top players in the league decides that he is not going to play unless he receives a contract superior to the one he actually signed. Granted, this issue can sometimes be a bit more nuanced than I have portrayed it as being, and usually the players holding out feel as if they have mitigating circumstances that justify their demands. However, in the end there is no way around the fact that a player holding out is not willing to honor the contract that he originally agreed to.

The latest, and somewhat unique, example of this has come to us through the exploits of Albert Haynesworth. It all started when Haynesworth, defensive tackle, decided that he didn’t want to play in the new 3-4 defense that the Redskins switched to in the offseason. This after agreeing to a seven-year, $100 million contract.

The Redskins knew that Haynesworth was not happy, but they were hoping that the $21 million bonus he received in April would perk up his attitude. Unfortunately, they were wrong, and Haynesworth declared to the world that he was not going to play for the Redskins.

In the end, after the Redskins stood firm and refused to trade him, Haynesworth changed his mind and decided to report to camp. Just one problem: Haynesworth had missed what the team deemed to be crucial offseason conditioning (and some have speculated that Haynesworth let himself go a little in the offseason as well). Thus, in order to test Haynesworth’s fitness level (and more importantly to teach him a lesson) Coach Mike Shanahan decided that Haynesworth would have to pass a conditioning test before being allowed to practice with the team.

This seems like a reasonable resolution, and something that shouldn’t be too difficult for a $100 million athlete. Problem solved, right? Wrong. Haynesworth failed the test three times and failed to attempt it three times before finally passing.

Haynesworth claimed that he could not complete the test because of his knee — which, incidentally, is not serious enough to require an MRI. However, it doesn’t make much sense that running in a straight line would pose a problem for a guy with a mild knee irritation unless the guy with the knee irritation is irritated with his coach.

Haynesworth’s failure to get on the field and honor his contract is all too common in the NFL at this time of year, and it leads me right back to 2 Thessalonians 3:10.
Paul Shirley is student minister at Grace Bible Church in Brandon, Fla.

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