No-show Glenn facing season-long suspension

Mortensen's 2001 archive

In Glenn case, who do you trust?

Aug. 8
Jimmy Gould is an attorney and a sports agent. He represents Terry Glenn. He also represented Korey Stringer. You would not want to walk in his shoes these days.

Gould's immediate problem Wednesday was the threat, in writing, by the New England Patriots to suspend Glenn for the year if he did not report to training camp by 5 p.m. ET.

Terry Glenn
Terry Glenn caught 79 passes and six TD passes in 2000.

Glenn was contemplating retirement, or simply allowing the Patriots to suspend him for the season. Gould was urging Glenn to report so the legal process could go to work for him. He also wants to pursue a trade so that Glenn can cut his ties with the Patriots.

It's not a simple story. I don't really trust most of the characters involved in it. That includes Glenn. That includes Patriots coach Bill Belichick. It even includes Patriots owner Bob Kraft. And I am occasionally dubious about the NFL drug policy.

The facts of Glenn's recent troubles are in dispute. Glenn was notified last week that he was being suspended for the first four games of the NFL season after his appeal was denied for violation of the drug policy.

The suspension shocked Gould because Glenn did not test positive for any substance. He was found to be in violation for failing to communicate his whereabouts on a day the league was trying to test him.

During the appeal process, Glenn's attorneys also were able to produce telephone records that confirmed the player made efforts to communicate with his personal program coordinator about where he was. The phone records are important evidence, Gould said. In fact, because Glenn tried to make contact, Gould contends the league was able to find Glenn in Texas and test him three days later. The test was negative.

The tale is a tangled web. So before getting deeper into the minutae, let's do something different. Let's give Glenn some benefit of doubt.

Glenn is a 27-year-old man who grew up without any semblance of a traditional home life. He has his hang-ups, his insecurities, etc. The Patriots know this. At times, they have even worked through it. As evidence, they signed Glenn to a $50 million contract extension a year ago. They did this, by the way, because he is an extremely talented receiver.

Glenn may be a poor communicator. He may have weak people skills. He may not be trustworthy. Guess what? The same can be said for Belichick.

As a communicator, Belichick has always selectively played favorites. The New York Giants privately cited Belichick's awful people skills as a reason he should not succeed Bill Parcells as coach. The New York Jets believed Belichick double-crossed the plans of late owner Leon Hess when he backed out of a deal to succeed Parcells in order to join Kraft in New England.

Kraft's intentions also can be questioned, although I do see the owner as a pretty good communicator with people skills. However, Kraft has gained a reputation in the NFL's inner circles as either being shady or overly shrewd when it comes to honoring contracts.

He left a bad taste in the mouth of Connecticut Gov. John Rowland on a deal to move the Patriots. Rather than honor Pete Carroll's contract upon his dismissal, Kraft forced Carroll into a negotiated settlement. The Pats owner also stopped paying former strength coach Johnny Parker -- whom Kraft once assured would have a "lifetime" relationship with the team -- when Belichick fired Parker with three remaining years of contractual obligation.

Maybe Kraft was justified in all these positions. Maybe he wasn't. Before the league suspension, he had withheld payments on Glenn's signing bonus related to the receiver's unresolved assault case, as if he were looking for a loophole.

Certainly, Kraft would advise me to get the facts straight before I laid blame. Glenn should be afforded the same opportunity.

Glenn's predicament Wednesday -- faced with a team-imposed, season-long suspension -- was more self-inflicted based on hard facts. Even though he faces a four-game suspension to start the season, he is expected to practice with his team through the preseason. His unexcused training-camp absence opened the door for more disciplinary action. To retire or simply accept a one-year suspension is ill-advised.

Yet I wonder whether Belichick is equipped to deal with the Terry Glenns of the world. They're out there. It's part of the culture that any coach inherits. Belichick has broken the player-coach trust more than once. The most recent example came when he recently shed more light on Glenn's participation in the NFL drug program than the policy allows.

A lot has been made about Parcells' perceived distaste for Glenn when the Patriots made the receiver a first-round pick in 1996.

Let me paint a different picture. Parcells wanted to address a major need with a defensive lineman in the draft. But Kraft superseded Parcells and allowed personnel director Bobby Grier to choose Glenn.

It was the beginning of the end between Parcells and Kraft. The relationship went further downhill when Parcells made a sheepish, off-hand remark to the media by referring to Glenn as "she" during his rookie training camp. What the public didn't know is that Parcells traditionally poked good-natured fun at top draft picks by referring to them in the female gender. Maybe it was not the politically correct thing to do, but the comment was classic Parcells.

Yes, Glenn got the Parcells treatment. Glenn responded with 90 catches, the best rookie season ever for a receiver, despite missing the opener with a hamstring injury. Truth is, Parcells took the kid under his wing with his typical "tough love." Others have tried to emulate it, but they have fallen short. Parcells pulled it off because he has people skills and was street smart as a coach.

Parcells left New England not because of Glenn, but because Kraft stripped him of his right to pick his own players. Parcells understood Glenn better than almost anybody. And he liked him.

This is not an especially good week for the Patriots. They not only have the Glenn dilemma, but they are also grieving the death of quarterbacks coach Dick Rehbein, who died unexpectedly Monday.

That's why I think it makes perfect sense for everyone involved in the Glenn situation to step back, call time out and huddle.

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