DENVER, Colo. - With the both the season and his reputation on the line, Denver Broncos head coach Mike Shanahan swallowed his pride and made the best executive decision he's made in the last four years.
On Wednesday he benched starting quarterback Brian Griese.
The decision, albeit long overdue, comes on the heels of Griese's poorest performance to date in a Bronco uniform. A performance in which the four-year veteran completed a paltry 7 of 15 passes for 48 yards, two interceptions, two sacks and a 14.7 quarterback rating.
Had it not been for former Broncos linebacker Bill Romonowski, whose sack on Griese sent him hobbling to the sidelines with a painful left knee, those numbers could have been even worse.
Ironically it was Griese himself that earlier in the week had tagged this game as the biggest of his professional career.
So much for the game and so much for his career.
At least in Denver.
The realization has finally sunk in with the mastermind that a 27-24 record for his starting quarterback is simply not acceptable.
While he would not elaborate on Griese's future past Sunday, Shanahan did acknowledge that future personnel decisions will be based strictly on player performance, and not on salary-cap implications, as is the case with the $39 million contract Griese signed in 2000.
"Our decisions will be based on people performing, not money," Shanahan said. "Once I base playing time on the salary cap, on draft choices, I lose this football team."
"If you did it based on money, every first-round draft choice would stay with your team seven years and you would look like you didn't make a mistake. That's not always the case."
What is the case is that Denver still holds a slim chance at a wild-card playoff spot, and those hopes will now rest on the shoulders of back-up Steve Beuerlein.
For Brian Griese, the end was inevitable.
Unfortunately it took three years to materialize.
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