Late For Work 5/3: Why 2003 Trade Snafu Differs From 2011

“Know the story before you say this is the Karma God getting even with Ozzie,” wrote King.

Posted by Sarah Ellison on Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011 at 9:06 am | Categories: Late For Work, Sarah Ellison

Why 2003 Trade Snafu Differs From 2011

The debate continues as to whether the Chicago Bears should have honored their verbal trade agreement last Thursday and given their fourth-round draft pick to the Ravens (if you are unaware of the background, this and this will help).

“CHI doesn’t owe BAL a damn thing,” @art33182 tweeted to’s Peter King yesterday. “BAL did the same thing to MIN back in 2003.”

King responded, “Not true. Read MMQB [Monday Morning Quarterback].”

So I did, and you may want to too.

“The Ravens-Vikings draft-trade story of 2003 is not quite the same,” King wrote in his weekly column. “Similar, but know the story before you say this is the Karma God getting even with Ozzie Newsome.”

In 2003, both Jacksonville (picking at No. 8) and Baltimore (No. 10) wanted to draft quarterback Byron Leftwich.  To leapfrog the Jags, Baltimore called Minnesota (No. 7) to negotiate a deal. Not willing to give up their quarterback so easily, Jacksonville also offered a trade to Minnesota. While Minnesota played both sides to get more in the deal, the clock was winding down.

With minutes remaining, the Vikings told the Jags they were making a deal with Baltimore, King explained. Thus, Newsome’s team attempted to call the league to report the deal, but after several attempts, they failed to get through because the phone lines were busy. (There’s been speculation that the Jags tied up the phone lines purposefully.)

Note the first difference between the two trade stories. In 2003, the communication error was not on the Ravens. The league’s telephone lines blocked Newsome’s call. After the snafu, King explained the NFL added two additional phone lines so teams could always get through in the future. In 2011, the Bears insisted to Newsome that they had made the call, when in the end, they really hadn’t.

Still, the Vikings’ time expired and the deal was never consummated for the same reason the Bears-Ravens trade wasn’t consummated – the agreement was never reported to league officials. So when the clock hit zero in 2003, Jacksonville, who was next on the clock, quickly jumped in front of the Vikings and drafted Leftwich.

Note the second difference between the two trade stories. In 2011, both teams eventually got the players they wanted, but in 2003 the Ravens paid a big price. Despite a verbal trade agreement, Baltimore lost out on who they thought could be their franchise quarterback. The Vikings said they still got the player they wanted, but lost out on two extra draft picks. The Jags were the only real winners (although Leftwich never panned out to be that franchise quarterback).

It’s important to keep this context in mind when hearing Newsome’s quote after the Vikings-Ravens non-trade: "The deal was not consummated. A deal is not a deal until I talk to Joel Bussert, and I never talked to Joel Bussert."

This quote makes it seem like Baltimore was trying to get out of their agreement at the time. But in all reality, it was the Ravens who may have had the biggest cause to protest by losing so much in the debacle. The Ravens wanted Leftwich, they had an agreement that should have made that happen, but a technicality prevented the move.

Instead of complaining about the league’s phone lines and his loss, Newsome did the honorable thing and accepted the consequences.

@art33182 is right. Chicago doesn’t owe Baltimore anything. Nobody has made that case; instead, the debate has revolved around honor. It was the Bears who made the mistake this time around, yet they still profited by their own error. They got the player they wanted (Wisconsin tackle Gabe Carimi) and didn’t have to give up an extra pick.  

“The right thing would have been to give Baltimore something — either the fourth-round pick or some pick to make up for what turned out to be a broken promise,” wrote King. “The NFL ruled because the Bears never informed the league of the deal, it wasn’t official. I like [Bears General Manager] Jerry Angelo a lot. Always have. But this is dead wrong, and it’s a terrible message to send to fans and people who follow the league.”

Steelers Mendenhall Questions 9/11 Accounts

Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall didn’t join other Americans across the country yesterday in celebrating the death of terrorist leader Osama bin Laden.

"What kind of person celebrates death?” Medenhall tweeted. “It’s amazing how people can HATE a man they have never even heard speak. We’ve only heard one side."

In reply to Mendenhall’s tweet, Mike Florio of argued, “But what would the other side have been? Bin Laden admits to masterminding and funding the plot; he has bragged about it. He’s not entitled to the presumption of innocence after admitting guilt.”

Mendenhall also questioned the accounts of how the twin towers collapsed.

"We’ll never know what really happened. I just have a hard time believing a plane could take a skyscraper down demolition style."

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