Prima donnas getting the boot

Tuesday, November 25, 2003 at 1:00am

NFL coaches have taken a stand lately, and some would say it's about time.

The Browns did it with wide receiver Kevin Johnson, the Bucs with wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson and the Broncos with defensive tackle Daryl Gardener.

Teams are often handicapped by the salary cap when trying to make difficult decisions on players, so it shows how important good decisions can be. A bad choice can have cap ramifications for several years.

Keyshawn Johnson put the anti-Jon Gruden spin on what happened in Tampa Bay, but the truth is, Gruden is a winning coach. He might have his eccentricities, but he is the coach. And the further truth, which Johnson doesn't like to hear, is that he's not a difference-maker as a receiver.

He'll be 32 next July, and simply doesn't force defenses to account for his presence. He will be shocked when he learns in the offseason that no team will be willing to pay him $5 million a year.

Gardener got on coach Mike Shanahan's bad side when he injured his wrist during the summer in a fight that occurred at 2:30 in the morning. Coaches constantly remind players that bad things have a better chance of happening when you're out that late, but there are those who take the chance anyway.

Gardener had not contributed much this season, and was suspended last week for one game for conduct detrimental to the team.

So, did Gardener take his punishment like a man? Think again. He went on the radio and belittled Shanahan, not a smart move when it comes to your future in the NFL.

Labeling the suspension

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