There is one side's story. There is the other side's story. And there is the truth.
And, here I am, stuck in the middle with you.
I am the idiot always trying to chase the truth while both sides often run for cover or tell different versions of the same story. Such is the David Garrard saga.
As you know, the common thinking as to why the Dolphins did not land Garrard this week is because they would not guarantee certain portions of his contract or would not meet certain contract requests. This version of the story comes from Garrard's agent who spoke with The Herald, the NFL Network and ESPN and gave that general accounting as the reason his client did not join the Dolphins.
[Update Sunday, Oct. 9: Garrard sure enough echoes these sentiments in an ESPN report meant to respond to this report. (Glad I could set thing in motion for the World Wide Leader). In the report, Garrar is quoted as saying the Dolphins "were not willing to guarantee me the kind of money that reflects a real commitment and what I believe would protect me from being cut twice in one season.]
This version, by the way, enraged Dolphins fans because it made their team look ridiculous. It made the Dolphins seem cheap. It made the Dolphins look like they had thrown in the towel on the 2011 season after losing four games and starting quarterback Chad Henne.
This version, I am now quite certain, is not accurate.
I am hearing from multiple team sources that, in fact, the reason Garrard is not on the Dolphins today has nothing to do with money. I'm told that if Garrard wanted his base salary guaranteed, the Dolphins would have done that. I'm told that although reports are Garrard would have played for $1 million, the club might have gone to three times that amount and "probably" paid it.
I'm told that the reason the Dolphins didn't get Garrard is, in fact, because he simply didn't feel like playing right now. Garrard apparently talked to the team and showed no great desire to play. He is, according to this version of the story, quite content sitting out this season, spending time with his family, and hitting free agency next March.
This version of things is obviously much more logical because it wouldn't make a ton of sense for the Dolphins to balk at paying Garrard $1 million guaranteed when his veteran minimum for signing is $910,000 anyway. I cannot see how any team would refuse to sign a good player because of the prorated portion of $90,000. That just doesn't pass the sniff test.
But here's the thing, neither does it pass muster that Garrard has turned into a total couch potato. So I did a little bit more digging, more pressing. And the next version of the story I was told is ...
Garrard sure enough wasn't all that enthusiastic about playing right now -- but mostly because the team that came calling has such little chance of winning as the 0-4 Dolphins do. If, say, the 3-1 New England Patriots suddenly lost Tom Brady and needed a starting QB, he'd be on a plane in a heartbeat.
[From the ESPN report: Garrard also sounds like a guy that I'm told got on the phone with Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland and himmed and hawed and didn't sound enthusiastic at all about playing in Miami. He speaks of his wife being 13 weeks pregnant (congrats, sir). He wonders if coach Tony Sparano is going to be fired in a couple of weeks. He speaks of not being familiar with a situation in which he comes in cold and is expected to help turn a team around. "I'm one man," he says.]
So yeah, Garrard sounds unenthusiastic about playing with Miami. You simply don't want someone on your team that isn't 100 percent certain he wants to be there -- particularly in these tough times.
So now that covers the gamut of explanations and counter-explanations why Garrard was not signed by the Dolphins this week. I'm not certain which part of all that is really, truly the truth. Again, the folks telling me this stuff don't want to offend each other, don't want to even contradict each other publicly although they do it for a living privately.
I don't care about any of that. I do care about this:
I'm now quite comfortable telling you money was not the reason the Dolphins did not get David Garrard. You can rest easy knowing that your team is not going around like a hobo offering a used toothbrush as payment to quarterbacks wanting million-dollar contracts for their services.
The Dolphins were, in fact, in the game financially on this one had it been a financial issue to overcome. It simply wasn't. At least not exclusively.
That is the truth.