Usually I'd say in the case of the Bengals chasing a player with serious baggage, that it's owner
But the Bengals' pursuit of
Now, part of the issue is the continuing question about Bryant's health. Last year, he struggled with a knee injury all season, even after having what was thought to be minor surgery. The knee was still bothering him at a June minicamp, when he couldn't practice in every session. The coaches won't know exactly what they have in Bryant until they get on the practice field Thursday at the start of training camp in Georgetown, Ky.
I give Palmer credit for one thing: He realizes he doesn't have a lot of chances left -- in Cincinnati, playoff consistency is an oxymoron -- and he doesn't want to be sitting there in October thinking, I can't count on Bryant, and I can't trust which way Gresham and Shipley are going at nut-cutting time.
He's willing to take a risk that he could have three veteran complainers in the meeting room this year if they don't think they're getting the ball enough. With Cincinnati being a predominant running team, and investing the pick and money in the most athletic tight end in the draft this year, it's entirely possible the leading wide receiver on the team could catch 70 balls -- with the others below 50. I don't care how peaceful Owens is now. If he's catching two or three balls a week, he's not going to be happy.
But if I'm Owens, I'm thinking I've got two pretty interesting options: Take the Bengals' offer (it's got to be somewhere in the $2-million-a-year range, with incentives) and be content with a third-receiver role that could morph into something better if Bryant's health remains an issue, or wait until another team doesn't like what it sees in its receivers in camp or gets an injury at the position sometime in August. Unless the Bengals' offer is going to disappear, I think he'd be smart to wait.
Before I get to my e-mail, I want to make one correction on Monday's column. I wrote that
Now for your first batch of e-mail in a couple of months:
• QUITE A BIT, ACTUALLY.
Yes, there are a few similarities. Obviously, the organization has faith in Kolb to take the reins and keep the Eagles a playoff team, same as the Packers with Rodgers. And, yes, he's been developed by a coaching staff that doesn't fear the unknown. That was the biggest thing in Green Bay when it decided to go with Rodgers, even when
But there's one difference: The Packers would have let Favre return for the 2008 season had he chosen in March to say he'd play rather than retire. By the time he was certain he wanted to play, it was early July 2008, and the Packers, who'd already promised the job to Rodgers, felt they'd had enough of Favre's waffling and wouldn't reverse course. So yes, Favre was traded eventually, but only after he'd retired and changed his mind. That didn't happen with
• I JUST LIKE BRYANT'S FEISTINESS.
I understand your point -- this is a harmless little tradition, and Bryant shouldn't make a big deal of it, and he should just carry the pads. But I think you're overstating the story a bit. Bryant never said or implied that he "is more important than the team;'' he said he wasn't going along with the tradition of rookies carrying the vets' pads. And the point about Bryant not being able to be part of the team if he doesn't go along with this -- I just don't buy it. There will be some vets who hate him, and he could make it easier on himself by carrying the pads. But this story is a tempest in a teapot. It will pass. And when Bryant makes plays to help the Cowboys win -- and I think he will, early in the season -- no one's going to care much about this.
• SHE WOULD LIKE ME TO GROW UP.
Well, she thought I made my point by stopping him from cutting the line. She thought that should have been the end of the story. But then I had to open my big mouth and make the situation an incendiary one. I understand her point, and we're both hardcore pacifists. Having said that, I felt I had to take a stand (as corny as it sounds, for all the people in line with us) and I don't regret it, because the guy had it coming.
• THEY STOOD THERE LIKE CATTLE, DOING AND SAYING NOTHING.
None, other than one guy I heard behind me who said, "Come on,'' when I challenged the guy to not cut the line.
• ALL WE ARE SAYING IS GIVE THE BUCS A CHANCE.
Duly noted. We'll see.
• PLAYOFF NOSEDIVERS.
I did this when I ranked the teams