Last word on Garcia's arm
After this, I promise not to talk about Jeff Garcia's arm any more. I'm sure you've heard enough about his sore throwing arm already.
But before we move on, just wanted to give you some quick behind-the-scenes info that will serve as an example of why this job can be so difficult and the truth so elusive.
First, some background. We reported here and in the paper earlier this week that Garcia had a sore throwing arm, though it isn't a condition that was expected to sideline him. The story, written by Rick Stroud, merely said Garcia needed the rest of the bye week because of the fatigue, especially for a guy who hasn't played a whole season since he was with the 49ers years ago.
The basis for that story was this quote from Jon Gruden, who was asked if Garcia needed rest for a weary arm:
"I think so. Brad Johnson went through it. All the veteran quarterbacks go through it. We're one of the few teams right now that have had a guy go all the way at quarterback this season. We're going to do the best we can. If we have to be creative with the practice schedule, we'll be creative with the practice schedule as we have been in the last couple weeks. That's just something you have to respond to."
Quarterbacks coach Paul Hackett also offered comments that meshed with Gruden's. The next day, as you may know, Garcia vehemently denied there was anything wrong and discredited the story. He added that he was bothered by the suggestion. Surprisingly, Gruden joined in saying, among other things, that Garcia had a right to be upset because there was nothing wrong with him.
So, what 's a reporter to do? Well, generally, you leave well enough alone. You pick your battles in this business. But the problem is that you, the reader, may be left wondering about our credibility after episodes like this.
The fact is, Gruden could easily have denied the suggestion when it was first presented but did not. I say kudos to him for being upfront, which he is more often than we probably give him credit for. Gruden, like all coaches, has been known to tell a fib or two. But he only does so when it fits his agenda, which this quote certainly did not. So, there's little reason not to believe his original statement.
My gut tells me Garcia was upset about his coaches' acknowledgment of the soreness and probably made his displeasure known. That would explain Gruden's change of direction two days later. Hey, he was in a tough spot, I suppose. But that's just a theory based on my many similar experiences over the years.
Another case-in-point: I wrote a story last season after Chris Simms ruptured his spleen that said he turned down a multi-year contract offer the previous offseason in the $10-million range. He preferred to play through 2006 in hopes of landing an even bigger deal after his one-year contract expired. Chris corroborated the story in quotes that were included in the story, and still, GM Bruce Allen repeatedly denied it ever happened and was upset about the leak of the story. All you have left are the words you put on paper. Hey, it's a thankless job. Not complaining about it, because this is what we signed up for. I'm just saying.
It can be tough not only for us but for a reader to decipher what's what. We'll just keep trying to give you as much information as possible. You're all smart enough to make sense of it all for yourselves. Just remember that whatever you read here or in the paper has been well thought out and deliberated over. We don't take the job lightly.
Sorry to ramble. I'll now get off my soapbox.