Martin Fennelly Columns
Bucs GM Dominik silent as Morris rumors swirl
TAMPA - The "Raheem Morris Is Gone" stories are flying fast and furious from all directions. There will be a new one today. And that's not to say they aren't true. Where is Tampa Bay Buccaneers general manager Mark Dominik in all this? I'd hate to think he's the source for some of these stories. That would just be so Stinky Pete of him. I want to believe that's not true. There's an ESPN report that Raheem would have been fired after the Jacksonville debacle if only the Bucs had anyone to replace him.Huh? Meanwhile, if you're a member of the Mark Dominik Fan Club, you love the fascinating Yahoo Sports report that says Dominik didn't want to bring back screw-up Aqib Talib, but Raheem convinced him to stick with No. 25. Dominik has dived for cover. It's understandable on some levels. Funny, the GM was relatively eager to talk about "the plan" after last season's 10-6 record, and to explain the Bucs' lack of shopping in the offseason. What's next? A report that he didn't want Raheem to have either Jeff Jagodzinski and Jim Bates as coordinators in 2009? That Dominik thought Gerald McCoy was "injury prone" and a reach at the No. 3 overall pick in the 2010 draft? Just kidding. If Dominik truly didn't want Talib back, I'm glad. No one in the organization should have wanted anything to do with Talib. It was a no-brainer. A lot of us thought it was lunacy -- and irresponsible -- to bring Talib back after his alleged Texas gun play. A lot of us thought it sent a wrong message to Morris' players as far as discipline is concerned. Guess what? It did. After Raheem booted Brian Price from a ball game for a stupid penalty, it went through all our minds: Wait, Talib is on the team, but this guy gets sent home? But where was Dominik in all this? He wasn't powerless. He was in a position to think of the franchise -- and community -- when it came to Talib, and he whiffed as badly as Morris, assuming he didn't really want Talib back, unless the Glazers powered up and over him. So, let's get this straight: The Bucs can shove no Cadillac Williams, no Barrett Ruud and the Glazers' $17.65 budget for free agency down Raheem's throat and tell him it's Day Care City -- but they have to let Morris get his way on Talib? You can almost feel the separation right now between the coach and GM, friends or no. It's nothing new. I mean, does anyone recall Rich McKay resigning over Tony Dungy's dismissal? Yes, the Talib thing always worried us. It's the smoking gun in so many ways, because it spoke to Raheem having favorites, or double standards. It was cool at 10-6, but it was always lurking, always. I'll bet Dominik thought and worried about that, too. But a lot of the decisions he was in on, team building that he was behind, have also conspired against Raheem and in their own way have helped doom the head coach. I'm not even sure the Glazers want to dump Raheem, because it would mean a bump-up all around, including money wise, if they go with a big-name coach, just as they're clearing Jon Gruden off the books. Think Dominik would want a power coach? I still remember Rich McKay wanting untested Marvin Lewis before the Glazers set their eyes on glamour guy Gruden -- and we all know how that ended. But it's becoming apparent they'll have no choice. Saturday's game with Dallas is sold out, but ownership must already be thinking about all those empty seats at the first game next season, unless they're all in London. The question is whether Dominik survives to help pick a successor to Morris. It's a perfectly good question.