On Oct. 1, 2006, I was sitting in a press box in Nashville when Titans defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth took his enormous right cleat and pounded it twice into to the head of Cowboys center Andre Gurode. The second blow opened up a large gash that required 30 stitches.
Gurode had just blown open a hole that running back Julius Jones followed through for a short touchdown run before the center was attacked by Haynesworth. It was one of the most cowardly acts I've witnessed during any competitive event and it earned Haynesworth an unprecedented five-game suspension with no pay. And, honestly, I thought Haynesworth got off easy for such a senseless act.
Here's the column I wrote for DallasNews.com the day after the incident. I recall being very impressed with the way Titans coach Jeff Fisher handled the situation and a ridiculous quote from Robaire Smith, who was attempting to defend his teammate.
On Sunday, Haynesworth and Gurode will meet for the first time in a regular-season game since the incident. Haynesworth won't practice this week because of an ankle injury, but he's vowing to play against the Cowboys. Gurode didn't want to discuss the reunion this week, but Haynesworth said via conference call that the two players are friendly.
"We have been talking and everything," Haynesworth said. "We even went out together. So, yeah, we are cool."
Cowboys linebacker Bradie James even found some humor in the fact that Gurode's career seemed to skyrocket after getting stomped by Haynesworth.
"I mean, he's been making Pro Bowls ever since," inside linebacker Bradie James said of Gurode. "It put him on the map. Maybe Haynesworth needs to come knock me out."
It was an ugly act that will always follow Haynesworth, but it's admirable that he's rehabilitated his image since that day. That one awful moment could've defined Haynesworth's career. Obviously, he didn't let that happen.
And thanks to the magic of plastic surgery, you have to look pretty hard to find any evidence of the attack on Gurode's face. Still, something tells me it will be in the back of his mind during Sunday's game.