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For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
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Bond clearly built on masochism
By GARY SHELTON email@example.com
Published December 27, 2006
If you had told me that Tonya Harding had gone back to Jeff Gillooly, it would not have surprised me. After all, dysfunction has its own chemistry, and some folks are destined to share a set of hubcaps as they go through life.
If you had told me that Britney Spears had forgiven Kevin Federline, it would have made perfect sense. As long as they are intent on making terrible music, they might as well make it together.
Same with Whitney and Bobby, or Jessica and Nick, or Pamela and Kid Rock. Some people repeat their mistakes. Some people deserve each other, and the rest of us don't deserve either one.
But Jon and Chris? Together again?
That one knocks me over.
Evidently, Jon Gruden and Chris Simms are on the verge of renewing their vows with the Tampa Bay Bucs, and I am certain I speak for all of us when I sum it up this way:
Is this a good idea? Or is this one of those situations where you want to grab both parties and scream, "Why?"
The last time we saw them in action, Gruden and Simms seemed perfectly awful for each other. Simms would botch a play, and Gruden's face would twist like a pirate's, and Gruden would curse, and Simms would grow more cautious.
And so it went. You know how some people seem to bring out the worst in each other? Together, Gruden and Simms seemed to bring out the worst in the Bucs' offense.
It seemed like an ill fit, Gruden's schemes and Simms' skills, and for many of us it made sense they would seek their successes with someone else as soon as the divorce decree was final.
Simms would find a place with fewer three-step drops. Gruden would find a player who didn't have so many passes knocked back in his face. Simms would find a coach who didn't scream into his face as often. Gruden would find that quarterback with wheels he so covets.
And now they want to sing another duet? The guy with the vented spleen and the guy with the dented one want to ride together again?
So what happened? Thirteen weeks away from each other happened. The longer they stayed away from each other, the better the other guy looked.
Simms spent 13 weeks away from the game, and he realized the NFL doesn't lob million-dollar checks at quarterbacks who haven't won a game in a year. Gruden spent 13 weeks with quarterbacks who couldn't get the ball deep to Joey Galloway if they called FedEx.
Next thing you know, they were re-pitching woo.
It would be grand to believe, of course, this was like one of those buddy movies where the cops just don't like each other until they discover how much they need each other to solve the case.
After all, Simms is a terrific kid, tough and well-liked by his teammates, and he still has more arm than any other quarterback the Bucs employ. It was just a year ago, remember, that people were comparing Simms to Eli Manning and Ben Roethlisberger. For the Bucs, that made Simms worth signing.
As for Simms, well, the Bucs are the known quantity. Between his injuries and his inexperience, it's hard to believe anyone else was going to hand him the keys to the franchise.
Both sides, however, ought to concede that the quarterback shopping can't be considered complete with Simms' signing. Perhaps the key mistake of this season was going into the year with only Simms, Tim Rattay and Bruce Gradkowski. Going into next year with the same bunch would be a mistake, too.
How good a quarterback is Simms? At this point, no one really knows. Counting last season's playoff loss to Washington, Simms has started 16 games. He has won seven. His rating is only 59.1. Seven times, his offense has scored 10 points or fewer.
He has had a couple of great games and a couple of awful ones. Looking back, I would give him two A's, seven B's, three C's, two D's and two F's. That's promising, but it's not going to make the dean's list.
In other words, Simms is worth bringing back. But the search should not be over.
Every year in the NFL, quarterbacks shake loose. It will happen this time, too. Maybe Daunte Culpepper will wind up on the market. Maybe Jake Plummer or Mark Brunell or Byron Leftwich or Jeff Garcia.
In other words, it was touching to hear that Gruden wants to get back together with Simms.
Just to be safe, however, maybe he should see other people, too.