If any of you are like me then you spent the better part of the last week picking your jaw up off the ground after listening to what Mark Dominik had to say. I know I've harped on coach speak and GM speak before, and a few of you have told me to shut up or that I'm reading far too much into it. But when a coach or GM makes remarks that garner national attention for the wrong reason I feel a bit vindicated in my thinking.
Now, I for one have been relatively happy with the progression of Mark Dominik as a general manager, particularly because of the draft. I think it's a tad unfair to judge him on free agency because we have no idea what kind of shackles he has had put on him. We all agree that there were no big splashes in free agency, and for good reason. Rather than spent a boatload of cash to upgrade our team by half a win, Dominik stayed the course (build through the draft) and had a very solid 2010 draft. So as a player personnel guy, he's winning me over. As the mouthpiece for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, well, he's probably better off leaving that to the professionals.
Hit the jump to take a tour of the recent misgivings of Dominik.
Most of the quotes stem from the Donald Penn situation that is currently unresolved. For those who don't know where we stand, a quick crash course. Donald Penn was tendered as a restricted free agent by the Bucs and has not signed his tender yet. Thus, he is not under contract. The Bucs dropped his tender on June 15th, which resulted in an approximate loss in salary of $100k. Penn is aggravated and wants a long-term deal as he feels he's proven that he is a known commodity at this point. The Bucs have so far offered nothing but refusal to do a long-term deal at this point. The reasons behind the decisions were unknown and were though to be anywhere from a somewhat murky financial situation to a weight situation (Note: Penn is a large man).
Caught up? Good. Now, when money is involved things can get a little heated. When millions of dollars are at stake and a player's liveilhood is up in the air, it can get downright nasty. Thus far, no one has been out and out rude or defiant, but that line was toed in the last few weeks.
The first quote came from an audio recording from another Bucs website. Said link has now been taken down so I can't link to it, but here's the quote. (This quote comes from PFT)
I'm really disappointed" Dominik said at a Wednesday fan Q&A session at One Buc Place, via JoeBucsFan.com. "When you think about a left tackle and how important that position is especially to a young franchise quarterback. And that guy during the season gains 40 pounds and basically turns his back to nutrition and keeping himself in shape. That's disappointing to me. Rightfully so. I'm just being blatantly honest with you.
"And I expected better from him. . . . When you look at the film, he continued to digress [during the final third of the season]. . . . This has nothing to do with money from the organization. This has nothing to do with the Glazers and their financial situation. This is strictly for him to show what he is as a football player."
The first shot has been fired. I'm on Dominik's side to a degree here. Penn, or any football player, has to be expected to stay in shape. Now, part of that is the team's responsibility, but if you want to be considered a great player and get a new deal, I would advise by not ballooning up like Kirstie Alley. Common sense will generally win the day in most situations.
After that quote was spoken, posted, and passed around, the Bucs caught wind and requested that the link/quote be taken offline. The rationale? It was supposed to be off-the-record. Now given that I wasn't there, all I can do is assume that a mistake was made, but the damage had been done at that point.
Well in the middle of this, mandatory minicamps were going to begin. Now, anyone under contract that doesn't attend can be fined by the team. The wording you should pay attention to is "under contract." Dominik offered up this comment stating his case. (From TBO)
Anybody who does not show up to mandatory minicamp is subject to fines, even Donald Penn if he hasn't signed his tender.
Well, to no one's surprise, this raised some eyebrows. As Penn is not under contract, he can't be fined, which the team did acknowledge. And per the TBO article linked above, the "team spokesman said Thursday those comments were made in an effort to persuade Penn to sign a tender worth $3.168 million." That sound you heard was all of the Bucs fans slapping their foreheads at once.
The final quote we bring to you is Dominik coming full circle and apologizing to Penn for the overweight comment. Dominik had this to say (via TBO)
Donald is an important member of this team and a guy I'm extremely fond of," Dominik said. "We had a good heart-to-heart conversation, and I was glad he came down for the fans.
"The fact is that I made some public statements about my feelings, and I didn't think that was fair (to Penn)," Dominik said.
"You should always live in a world or a society when (a microphone is) always on, and that was insensitive. And that's why I apologized to him."
To both of their credit, Dominik apologized and spoke to Penn, and Penn accepted and appears to have moved as he attended Fan Fest this past weekend.
It goes to show you that in today's day and age, everything you say is recorded in some format and can come back to haunt you. While I may not agree with how it was handled, I don't think most of what Dominik said was out of line. He clearly is thinking about the franchise and how to better it and an in-shape Donald Penn will provide a much bigger benefit than an out-of-shape Penn.
Though you may not agree with Dominik's or Penn's words, I think we can all agree that their actions (for the most part) can put these words to rest. Dominik put together an outstanding draft class and hopefully can continue to build this team from the ground up. Penn had a solid year in 2009 and given the motivation of the almighty dollar we hope he will continue with a solid 2010 season as well.
On a side note, this is not written to be critical of the Bucs, Dominik or Penn. I'm not hear to kowtow to the Bucs organization and blindly praise everything, nor am I hear to just harp on the Bucs. We as a site exist to discuss the Bucs, the pros and the cons, with several voices, the most important being the readers/fans. I think it would be very easy in this situation to either hammer the Bucs and Dominik or turn a blind eye and sing their praises, and we do neither. We are always seeking opportunity to discuss these matters with the Bucs and have extended an open invitation to either directly relay the words from the organization or to speak with them.