Who's Laughing Now?

Aside from comparisons to Fat Albert, Byron Leftwich was a thorn in the side of the Vikings organization. The franchise was humiliated on draft day of 2003 because Baltimore failed to complete a deal that would have sent Leftwich to Brian Billick. The Jags killed the deal by taking Leftwich and leaving egg on the face of the Vikings. As of Friday, the Vikings officially have the last laugh.

As far as humiliation goes, there are few that take precedence over others in the NFL.

Getting your butt handed to you in a Super Bowl rings true – like the Patriots against the Bears, the Chargers against the 49ers and the Bills against the Cowboys. But other than beat-downs with the world watching, embarrassments are typically private – and costly.

The Browns and the Texans both have expensive regrets in using the first pick of the NFL draft on Tim Couch and David Carr, respectively. But those have taken a back seat to the Vikings' sullying as the result of a botched trade with the Ravens in 2003 that made the team the laughingstock of the league.

For the uninitiated, the Vikings were supposed to make a trade with the Ravens for the No. 7 pick in the draft – moving down to No. 10 and acquiring a fourth-round pick. The Vikes had targeted Kevin Williams as a potential franchise player on the defensive side of the ball and were convinced that the teams in front of them wouldn't go defensive tackle. They were right, but there was a glitch in the plan. The Ravens didn't get their end of the deal reported to the league in time and the 15-minute clock ran out.

The Ravens were going to take Byron Leftwich with the pick they swapped with the Vikes. But, while the Vikings had their end of the deal sent in to the league office, the Ravens were tardy and the clock ran out. The Jaguars, who had the eighth pick, quickly made their selection when the clock hit :00 – taking Leftwich. Dazed and confused, the Vikes were slow to react as the Panthers took the player they were expected to – offensive tackle Jordan Gross.

Stunned by the turn of events, the Vikings abandoned what they thought had been a brilliant trade and took the player they wanted all along – DT Kevin Williams. Spurned on by the broadcast crew that thought Terrell Suggs was the obvious choice, the selection of Williams was booed as loudly as the Dolphins' pick of Ted Ginn Jr. this year.

Then-coach Mike Tice tried to sooth the crowd – despite being flipped the bird from a geriatric woman at the draft party. He told the crowd the Vikings got the player they wanted, but that the way they got him had gone askew.

Friday's announcement by the Jaguars that David Garrard will be their opening-day quarterback has brought this sad chapter in draft history full circle. And, in the end, while the Vikings would appear to be the recipient of a pie to the face, nobody came out of this draft day dust-up better.

The Ravens were supposed to get Leftwich. They didn't. What did they do? They traded a first-rounder in the next year's draft to get Kyle Boller. Little more really needs to be said about that decision. Boller was given more than one chance to prove himself and he proved one thing – he's not an NFL starter. Had the Ravens completed their end of the deal, Boller wouldn't have been a consideration and the Ravens wouldn't have forfeited a first-round pick to find out what a waste of space he was.

The Jaguars fared little better. Despite "winning" on draft day, Leftwich has proved to be an expensive mistake that is likely to be cut before the end of the Labor Day weekend because nobody other than the Falcons are desperate enough to part with a draft pick to get him.

The Vikes were the joke of draft day. Why? Because they thought had a deal with the Ravens to move ahead of the Jaguars to take Leftwich. The trade didn't happen. The Jags got Leftwich and they regret it. The Ravens had a knee-jerk and traded a first-round draft pick to get Boller. They regret it. The clown in this scenario was the Vikings. They got Williams and have no complaints.

Who's laughing now?

Stop the clock.

* The Vikings are going to hold off on announcing their cuts until close to the deadline, but the 22 players they have to release have been cut in half. A total of 11 players have already been notified that they will be among the cuts. They are CB Patrick Body, C Kyle Cook, RB Ciatrick Fason, DT Howard Green, LB George Hall, C Norm Katnik, OT Jimmy Martin, WR Billy McMullen, TE Richard Owens and TE Richard Spach. The remainder of the cut list will be announced later today.

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