Tampa Bay Storm coach Tim Marcum promised changes a day after the team's 68-31 loss to Indiana in the playoffs in August, and proved true to his word Monday.
Though dealing benched defensive specialist Tommy Henry to Toronto was a foregone conclusion after he lost his job late last season, Marcum pulled a stunner by trading offensive specialist James Bowden.
Saying the team needed to upgrade at the position and needed to get younger and faster, Marcum sent Bowden to New Jersey for lineman Rondel Marsh.
"It was time for us to part company," Marcum said. "When J.B. was hurt last year Gunnard Twyner was asked to do things and he stepped up. We have Sir Mawn Wilson, who we think is bigger, stronger and faster. It was just time. We needed to shake things up."
Bowden arguably was the Storm's best player the past two seasons. Despite missing three games, Bowden led the team with 90 catches for 1,205 yards and 26 touchdowns, and added another 1,276 yards in kick returns with one score.
Only 28, Bowden was expected to be a big part of the team's future. Though Marcum denies it had anything to do with the trade, Bowden was quoted spreading the blame around after the playoff loss, including placing some on Marcum's play calling.
Bowden thinks that was the final straw in a relationship that was contentious from the beginning of the season when he said Marcum changed parameters of the contract on which the two had verbally agreed.
Throughout the season, Bowden said Marcum singled him out during film sessions and fined him for missing a meeting while he was getting treatment for his injury and for having his uniform shirt untucked.
"He cost me a couple of thousand dollars on my contract by saying he didn't agree to certain things he did," he said. "And there were a lot of other things. I didn't even find out about the trade from him. That's the kind of guy he is."
Asked how could he could trade his best player for a 25-year-old rookie lineman with three tackles and one sack last season, Marcum quoted Lou Holtz:
"He said, "Winners don't gripe.' He said on all the teams he took over, the one thing they had in common is they were all largely composed of athletes who moaned about everything. You cannot turn around teams like that unless you rehabilitate the malcontents or sweep them from your rosters."
For Henry, a former all-rookie and all-league pick, the Storm received 28-year-old wide receiver/linebacker Carlos Johnson. Johnson had four catches last season for Toronto after being traded from Oklahoma, but in 2000 had 122 for 1,417 yards and 23 touchdowns for the Wranglers.