Titans allow Haynesworth to return, with anger counseling

Tuesday, November 14th 2006, 5:12 pm
By: News On 6

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) The Tennessee Titans are requiring Albert Haynesworth to continue anger management counseling he started during a five-game NFL suspension for stomping the face of a Dallas opponent.

Haynesworth worked out at the team's headquarters Monday, the first day he was eligible to return. But the Titans had a few more questions they wanted to review before letting Haynesworth rejoin the team at practice Wednesday.

They finally satisfied themselves and held a news conference Tuesday afternoon detailing what coach Jeff Fisher called one of the most difficult situations the team has faced since he became coach in November 1994.

``We believe ... that Albert is prepared to put this incident behind him, move forward and play this game with the respect and the integrity with which it was designed to be played with,'' Fisher said.

Haynesworth started counseling six days after swiping his cleats across the unprotected face of Dallas center Andre Gurode on October 1st in a loss to the Cowboys. He has had four sessions so far, and Haynesworth said he didn't know how many he would need.

``I'm glad the (suspension) time is over with, and I'm allowed to come back to work and participate,'' Haynesworth said.

The counseling was a key factor for the Titans. Fisher said obviously ``something went wrong'' when Haynesworth left Gurode needing 30 stitches to close his cuts.

Fisher credited Haynesworth with immediately recognizing after the game he had done something wrong.

``What we want to do as an organization (is) an effort to help Albert. And also the right thing to do is to do everything to ensure this kind of conduct does not happen again,'' Fisher said.

Owner Bud Adams has been aware of all the discussions, according to Steve Underwood, the team's chief operating officer.

``As an organization, we're satisfied the process is going to give us a great chance it'll never be repeated,'' Underwood said.

So Haynesworth will talk to his teammates Wednesday when he returns and practices.

Whether Haynesworth plays Sunday when the Titans (2-7) visit the Philadelphia Eagles (5-4) won't be decided until Fisher sees what kind of football shape his tackle is in. Haynesworth said his weight is 335, and he has been working out and running to be ready when his suspension ended.

``Six weeks is a long time to be away from this game,'' Fisher said. ``He hasn't had plastic on in six weeks, pads. I'm confident he's in shape. He's indicated to me he's worked very hard.''

Haynesworth said his six weeks away from the NFL and the prospect he might not play again or even be hired for any job was very scary. Asked if he figured out why he exploded, he called it a bad moment, probably one of the worst in his life.

But he said everybody makes mistakes, and he thinks this one changed his life.

Haynesworth said he has learned through his first four counseling sessions, including one Tuesday, that he should talk with others and let people help him with problems. He already has learned to talk more with his wife, and said he is eager to continue the counseling.

This wasn't an isolated incident for Haynesworth, merely the one where he hurt someone else the most. He picked up a metal pole to track down a college teammate he sparred with, only to be stopped by a coach. Later he kicked then-Titans teammate Justin Hartwig in the chest among a handful of fights in practice.

He also realizes he will be a target for opponents and fans who will try to push him to explode once again.

``That was just one bad play. I can't guarantee, but I can say in my power it'll never happen again,'' he said.