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Titans might punish Haynesworth more

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Oct. 5, 2006) -- A repentant Albert Haynesworth won't be charged with assault for bashing his cleat into the bare head of Dallas Cowboys center Andre Gurode. An unprecedented five-game suspension might not be the end of his punishment, however.

After consulting his family all week, Gurode said he has decided not to press charges against the Tennessee Titans defensive tackle.

But with their own fans still angry about Haynesworth's latest trouble, the Titans are investigating their options and trying to decide if they even want him around anymore, according to spokesman Robbie Bohren.

As a former player himself and co-chairman of the competition committee, Titans coach Jeff Fisher has been angry with his top run stopper all week.

"To me, the respect factor was violated by Albert," he said Oct. 2.

Seven games will remain on the Titans' schedule once Haynesworth's five-game suspension ends. The five-year veteran has one more season on his contract, but the winless Titans will have enough salary-cap room in 2007 to easily absorb the hit if they release him.

Haynesworth's stomp has been shown on countless TV replays, lampooned by national comedians and unanimously criticized -- even overseas.

Haynesworth stepped up damage control with a news conference in which he apologized to all who watched what he did Oct. 1 in a 45-14 loss to the Dallas Cowboys. He admitted he was an emotional player who is starting counseling and will work with Nashville children to share the lessons he has learned.

He got welcome news shortly before his news conference, when Gurode announced through his agent that he would not seek charges -- despite still having 30 stitches in his face and headaches.

A lawsuit remains a possibility.

"He's agonized and he's deliberated back and forth on this, and he has no desire to pursue any criminal charges at this time," said his agent, Kennard McGuire. "But I think in going forward this young man just wants answers."

For all his contrition, Haynesworth could not give the one answer to the question everyone is asking: Why?

"It was a blur. It was a big, big mistake and something I wish I could do anything to take that back," the 6-foot-6, 320-pound tackle said.

Haynesworth said he got what he deserved in a five-game suspension that is three games longer than the highest previous penalty for on-field behavior.

"Now Albert Haynesworth is known for something despicable, just not for being a good player or the face of the NFL like Chad Johnson or Terrell Owens, for that matter. It's known for this incident, so I know I lost a lot of respect," Haynesworth said.

"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."

Neither Haynesworth nor the players' union will appeal the suspension, and Haynesworth planned to meet with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell next week.

Haynesworth had no answers for his previous altercations either, such as when he was asked about a college incident -- he got in a scuffle with a teammate, left the field, and then returned with a long metal pole looking for him. Coach Phillip Fulmer intervened.

In 2003 with the Titans, he kicked center Justin Hartwig after a play in practice. He also was deactivated for a game in December 2003 after swinging at a player's head from behind and being ordered off the field.

Haynesworth admitted he had been immature and thought he has since grown up. He said his children, including a 5-year-old, couldn't understand why his daddy attacked Gurode.

"To this day, I don't know," Haynesworth said.

Cowboys coach Bill Parcells said Gurode went through a full practice and was expected to start Oct. 8 in Philadelphia. Parcells said he was considering dressing an extra offensive lineman, "just in case."

"I think he's playing, unless something unforeseen happens," Parcells said. "I think the cuts have healed up fine, I really do."

Gurode might require plastic surgery to repair the damage. His blurry vision is starting to clear, but he is still suffering headaches, according to McGuire.

Haynesworth, meanwhile, said he would stay in shape working out in Atlanta with former Falcons defensive lineman Chuck Smith. He planned to watch his teammates on the next five game days while eating pizza with children at a Nashville community center.

He also plans to seek anger-management counseling for his on-field outbursts.

"I got what I deserved," Haynesworth said.

AP NEWS
The Associated Press News Service

Copyright 2006, The Associated Press, All Rights Reserved

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