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Can we have a do-over ... pretty please?

By JOANNE KORTH
Published October 22, 2006


Technically, a mulligan is against the rules.

Every stroke, no matter how damaging, counts on the golf course. The NFL takes that theory one step further. Teams, general managers, coaches and players pay double, it seems, for their whiffs, shanks, flubs and mystifying misreads.

Six weeks into the season, don't you bet these folks wish they could take a mulligan?

- Dolphins coach Nick Saban hemmed and hawed then decided quarterback Drew Brees' surgically repaired throwing shoulder was a bigger risk than Daunte Culpepper's surgically repaired knee. The Dolphins are 1-5, and Culpepper is back in physical therapy. Brees has led the Saints - the Saints! - to a 5-1 start and first place in the ultracompetitive NFC South.

- The Texans passed on running back Reggie Bush with the No. 1 overall pick in the draft in favor of affordable defensive end Mario Williams. How's that working out?

- The Raiders passed on "weak-armed" USC quarterback Matt Leinart at No. 7. Now Al Davis and Art Shell are stuck with Aaron Brooks and Andrew Walter.

In two starts, Leinart has proved to skeptics what they should have known all along: There is more to playing quarterback than velocity. Leinart played in more big games for the Trojans than Brooks and Walter will in their entire careers.

Leinart is a winner. Period.

- Packers quarterback Brett Favre could have gone fishing in South Florida today instead of playing the Fish.

- Bucs quarterback Chris Simms gambled with his financial future by turning down a long-term contract offer from the Bucs in favor of a one-year tender and future payoff. Not only does Simms not have security, he no longer has a spleen.

- Titans defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth stomped on the exposed head of Cowboys lineman Andrew Gurode. Then again, it sounds like Haynesworth would have stepped in it eventually.

- Ravens coach Brian Billick believed veteran quarterback Steve McNair was going to save his job.

- Coaches Bill Parcells and Joe Gibbs let what likely will be their final seasons on an NFL sideline ride on aging quarterbacks Drew Bledsoe and Mark Brunell.

Mulligans all around!

Of course, you'll notice the absence of Cowboys owner Jerry Jones from this list. That's because given the same chance today, Jones would sign receiver Terrell Owens again.

In an instant.

Why? Owens equals exposure, and exposure equals money. For years, the Cowboys were a mediocre team that missed the playoffs while barely anyone noticed. Nothing irks Jones more than seeing America's Team turn into an afterthought.

Now the Cowboys are a mediocre team that will struggle to make the playoffs but everyone is paying rapt attention.

So far, it's hard to proclaim Owens a better value on the field than Keyshawn Johnson, who was let go to make room for Owens. But off the field, Owens is worth his weight in gold to the Cowboys.

By the way, all three teams that drafted quarterbacks in the first round are going to be happy with their choices: Tennessee with No. 3 pick Vince Young, Arizona with No. 10 pick Leinart and Denver with No. 11 pick Jay Cutler. There's not a bust in the bunch.

Joanne Korth can be reached at korth@sptimes.com or 727 893-8810.