NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Nov. 12, 2006) -- Albert Haynesworth has served his time for swiping his cleated foot across Dallas center Andre Gurode's unprotected face. Now the Tennessee Titans must decide how well he took care of himself during his unprecedented suspension.
Haynesworth was eligible to return to the Titans on Nov. 13, and his agent said the lineman planned on reporting for work. That would allow the tackle to start trying to get back the respect he lost Oct. 1 with his angry outburst in a loss to Dallas.
"My goal is to get back, work as hard as I can and just bust my butt on the field and try to earn that respect back from everybody. It's not going to happen overnight. It's not going to happen this year or not even next year," Haynesworth said at his news conference on Oct. 5.
"I'm going to keep working until I do."
The five-year veteran remains under contract through next season. He started the last 28 games he played.
But he has been away from the Titans for six weeks -- their bye week came during his suspension by the NFL, which was more than twice as long as the league's previous punishment for an on-field act.
Haynesworth also lost five game checks, and Tennessee formally asked him to return a prorated slice of his bonus money for this season.
The Titans expect a one-week exemption for Haynesworth while they see what kind of shape he is in and can make a decision Nov. 18 whether to activate him on Nov. 19 against the Philadelphia Eagles.
The defensive tackle has tried to show his remorse in various ways. He held a news conference expressing he was sorry, even though he could not explain why he tried to smash Gurode's head, leaving the Cowboy needing 30 stitches to repair his slashed face.
Haynesworth spent game days eating pizza and talking to at-risk youth at a Nashville community center to drive home the importance of making the right decisions.
And he tried to keep in shape by working with an ex-college teammate at his fitness center three days a week, and then with ex-NFL defensive lineman Chuck Smith in Atlanta.
Coach Jeff Fisher, a former player himself, has not tried to hide his anger at Haynesworth's actions. He refused to comment on Haynesworth early in the suspension or even speak his name in recent weeks.
Part of Haynesworth's redemption now might mean convincing his head coach the player who had fought with his own teammates in practice, even kicking Justin Hartwig in the chest in 2003, was gone.