Commentary: Gazing Into the Funhouse Mirror

Over the last three weeks, there has been an impressive display of feigned disinterest by other NFL clubs in QB Tim Couch. As one can see from today's newswire, though, a potential bidder for Couch's services has appeared and it's the Story of the Day™. In the event that there is a real story there, there may be reason to worry about the destiny of 1999's chosen hero.

If you think that trying to throw a pass with only Scott Rehberg between you and Warren Sapp is tough, how about this?

You, Tim Couch, may get the honor of trying to replace Brett Favre.

So long, frying pan. Hello, fire.

While the news that the Packers are sniffing around Tim Couch shows up all over the web, I'm left pondering the fate of our #1 pick from 1999. According to a story Raja sent us on the tipline, the Packers and Couch aren't necessarily nearing the altar. Apparently, Couch is worried about how long he would have to be a backup to Favre.

Frankly, I'd be more worried about what happens when a demonstrably average quarterback attempts to replace a living legend.

It's likely that fans in Green Bay would be more tolerant of Couch's inconsistency than Browns fans were. After all, Packers fans have been rewarded for their support more than Browns fans ever have been - both in terms of recent success and lack of forced vacations from football - and chances are that their fuses are somewhat longer than those in the Dawg Pound.

Still, Couch may find the going tough winning over a community spoiled by years of brilliant play by a future Hall-of-Famer.

Even though the situation wouldn't be analogous to Joe Montana being booted out of San Francisco for Steve Young, Couch might still face a long courtship in Green Bay when Favre retires. Anyone who watched Favre dominate on Monday Night just days after the loss of his father knows that the bar has been set impossibly high.

After his hellish experience attempting to lead the Browns out of the early expansion era sans running game or offensive line, the last thing that Couch needs is another unachievable goal.

The good news here is that Couch's prominence in the press may be as trumped up as the interest in Jeff Garcia appears to have been in Tampa Bay. The Browns, Tom Condon, and Couch himself all have a stake in creating as much of an appearance of interest in Couch as possible.

Via stories in the newswire this morning, we learned that the Packers weren't exactly circling Berea in an unmarked van waiting for Couch to walk outside so they could throw money at him. Couch's agent, Tom Condon, contacted the Packers to see if there was an interest. Following Billy Volek's re-signing with the Titans, and the recent ascendance of Phillip Rivers of NC State up draft boards, it would make sense that Packers were receptive to talking*.

Similar to when stories appeared suggesting Jeff Garcia was headed to Tampa, I would suggest caution before sending Couch gift copies of Cheese Tasting for Beginners.

This time of the season, news stories in the media are the journalistic equivalent of looking at your reflection in a funhouse mirror. There can be a lot of distortion but, I guess, that's all part of the fun. This should particularly be true when the primary sources are a team and an agent who want to move a player.

Unfortunately, Couch's experience with the funhouse mirror might be more damaging than ours, as fans, looking for truth underneath the news reports.

Even after five years of occasional success followed by mediocre play, Couch still seems to see himself differently than his coaches and most fans have seen him. As he looks at himself in the funhouse mirror, Tim Couch still sees a top quarterback and a hot commodity.

His concern about waiting to start for Green Bay, if not a negotiating tactic, is a sure sign that the team's starting QB since 1999 is still full of confidence about his own abilities. Although self-confidence is a desirable trait in a team's field general, it is my hope that Couch winds up somewhere other than Green Bay.

To date, Couch's play on the field hasn't been the same as his perception of his own worth. Not even the most distorting optical illusion can make Tim Couch look like Brett Favre.

If the stories we are reading today turn into reality, I fear that the second chapter of Tim Couch's pro football story may wind up no happier than the first.

Tread carefully, Deuce.

- AB

* Also, props to the Wisconsin State Journal for extending the fiction that Browns fans "cheered" Tim Couch's concussion. Browns fans only knew that Couch had his bell rung and that their favorite QB at the time was entering the game. Very few, if any, were cheering an injury. They were cheering Holcomb. Far greater were those, such as those I was around, who were very concerned about their QB. But let's not let that stand in the way of a good story. Ahem.

The OBR Top Stories