(Scene: The offices in the back of the practice facility of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, where Jon Gruden is speaking with a faceless assistant of the offensive staff.)
Faceless Assistant: But why even bother talking to the guy, Jon? It’s not as if we’re lacking for options at the quarterback? Hell, we’ve got seven of ‘em on the roster.
Gruden: That’s only six that are coming to camp, buddy.
FA: Yeah, but that means we carry four max into the season, and it’s not like we don’t already
have two or three that are dying to be starters somewhere.
Gruden: That’s the point. It’s the competition of the thing, the nitty-gritty, the fight to the death for the starting job!
FA: Fight to the death? Really?
Gruden: Well, no, but you get my point. Why not bring another guy into the mix, see if that drives Garcia or Simms to step up and prove that they can get us back to the top, and more importantly, keep me employed?
FA: Um, because it’s stupid?
Gruden: You would think that, wouldn’t you? But I tell you, you’ve gotta hoard ‘em. QBs just aren’t available anywhere, even though I am enough of an offensive wunderkind that I have won a Super Bowl with Brad Johnson running the offense.
FA: (Sighs.) But that doesn’t mean we have to bother with Daunte Culpepper. Even if Jeff isn’t the guy, Chris is healthy and viable.
Gruden: That pussy lost his fucking spleen. No priss like that is leading my team. Especially when he appears to be more interested in kissing Garcia’s ass.
FA: Bruce did well with what we gave him, which wasn’t much.
Gruden: Gradkowski is not the last name of a great quarterback. They do not make playoff QBs in Akron, Toledo, or wherever the fuck he came from.
FA: There is Jake. You could at least call him, maybe plead a little.
Gruden: To hell with that dirty, tree-loving hippie. Let him enjoy the wild with his damn “free spirit.” It’s the Old Man until the Battle Royale begins!
FA: But why Daunte?
Gruden: I figure eight makes a good number of gladiators when camp rolls around. The dead shall be cut, and those who are third-and-fourth string shall be my personal chalets, butlers, yes-men, and ball-washers.
Chris Simms: (Opens door.) Did someone call for a ball-washer?
Gruden: Get out of here, Chris.
Simms: Jesus, Coach. I was just trying to help.
Gruden: You know what, Chris? Why don’t you see if Jeff needs any assistance before training camp gets underway?
Chris: Really? OK, Coach!
(Chris leaves, closing the door quietly.)
Gruden: See what I’ve gotta put up with? Now, Daunte’s due any minute. Hell, even if we sign him and he turns out not to be useful, I can add him to the collection.
(Walks over to the glass pane in the corner, where a stuffed Rob Johnson stands in his old #11 uniform. Rich Gannon and Shaun King are also lined up inside.)
Gruden: Now that there is a fine display of mediocrity, over the years, that has begged for my genius to turn it into something moderately resembling an NFL-level quarterback! Childress called; he said he’s sending Brad Johnson back for the complete set. I’m still trying to convince that fucker Belichick to hand over Testaverde so I can get the washed-up set. (Coughs.) Christ. Can you call in someone to get this fucker dusted before Culpepper gets here?
FA: Yeah, yeah. Get right on it.