When you want something done, I was always told to write to your congressman. But who should I write to? Former U.S. Rep. James Traficant, an Ohio Democrat, probably is familiar with Couch, but he's in prison after being convicted of 10 counts of bribery, racketeering and income tax evasion. Sen. Russ Feingold and Herb Kohl have other things to worry about, such as Iraq and re-election (Feingold) and basketball (Kohl).
So I'll just have to write to Couch. I hope he's a subscriber.
Dear Tim, I know you are a busy man, delivering pizzas or doing whatever it is a football player does when he doesn't really have a team, so I'll cut right to the chase: What on earth are you thinking?!
Let me lay it out for you. The Packers are the perfect fit for you. Being a former first pick in the draft, a lot was expected of you in Cleveland but you weren't able to come through. Why? Because your team was terrible. You were knocked around. Your receivers couldn't get open. You grew frustrated. Your confidence waned. You eventually were benched for someone with half your skills.
What you need is a new start. What you need is a place where you won't have all the pressure dumped on your shoulders. What you need to do is except a massive pay cut and sign with the Packers.
Sure, I know taking a pay cut is tough. Your great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandchildren probably will hate you for it. But, hey, you'll have been dead for about a thousand years before the Couch fortune runs out and the rest of those greedy, lazy rugrats have to start looking for a job sometime around the turn of the millennium. In addition to the cash you collected over the first three years of the rookie contract you signed in 1999, the Browns picked up a four-year option on your contract in January 2002. That came with an $8.75 million signing bonus. You pocketed $6.2 million in base salary last season. Trust me, Tim, you can afford to skimp by on the league minimum until you become the starter.
After years of losing, Tim, don't you want a chance to win? Of course you do. And these Packers have a chance to win big time this coming season. Sure, you likely wouldn't play much of a role in the winning, considering NASA wants to clone Favre and use him as new tiles to protect the space shuttle fleet. But you'd have a year or more to learn the system, learn the players, learn what it's like to be around a team that expects to win rather than just hopes to win.
Besides, Tim, I hate to break it to you, but there's really nowhere else in the league for you to go. Sure, your agent said several teams are interested in you, but who's he kidding? The NFL has never had it so good when it comes to quarterbacks. Don't believe it? Here's a team-by-team rundown:
New England: Tom Brady
Miami: traded for A.J. Feeley; Jay Fielder remains on the roster
New York Jets: Chad Pennington
Baltimore: Last year's first-round draft pick, Kyle Boller
Cincinnati: Last year's No. 1 overall pick, Carson Palmer
Cleveland: Those fools don't want you anymore
Indianapolis: Peyton Manning
Tennessee: Steve McNair
Jacksonville: Last year's first-round pick, Byron Leftwich
Houston: The No. 1 overall pick in the 2002 draft, David Carr
Kansas City: Trent Green
Denver: Jake Plummer
Oakland: Rich Gannon; though the Raiders make sense for you if they don't sign former Giant Kerry Collins
San Diego: First-round pick Philip Rivers
Philadelphia: Donovan McNabb
Dallas: Traded for talented prospect Drew Henson
New York Giants: First-round pick Eli Manning
Green Bay: Favre, for now
Minnesota: Daunte Culpepper
Chicago: Last year's first-round pick, Rex Grossman
Detroit: 2002 first-round pick Joey Harrington
Carolina: Jake Delhomme
New Orleans: Aaron Brooks
Atlanta: Michael Vick
St. Louis: Marc Bulger
Seattle: Matt Hasselbeck
San Francisco: Tim Rattay (no room under the salary cap for your salary demands)
Arizona: Josh McCown; this is the only team in the league in which you'd start right away, but do you really want to subject yourself to that type of misery after languishing in Cleveland for five seasons? Didn't think so.
So there it is, Tim. The Packers want you. You probably can make ends meet on a relatively small salary until Favre retires. The Bears said they were interested, but they were just toying with the Packers. (Just like the Packers are toying with you by feigning interest in Damon Huard.) The Bears have Grossman as their quarterback of the future in the lineup today, and signing you would only interfere in his progress. The only other team in need of a starting-caliber quarterback is Arizona. Do we even need to go there?
Thanks for the time, Tim. Give me regards to Mr. Traficant.
Huber is a copy editor and Sunday sports columnist for The Green Bay News-Chronicle, where this column first appeared. He is a regular contributor to packerreport.com and the Packer Report print edition. Contact him via e-mail at email@example.com