Penn, Bucs begin mending fences

Tampa Bay Buccaneers general manager Mark Dominik has apologized to Donald Penn for the remarks he made at a team function when he said the offensive tackle didn’t get a contract extension because he was out of shape.

Perhaps that is the first step in a solution to the team’s problem with Penn. The restricted free agent will not sign his tender and therefore will not be in attendance at minicamp later this week. Dominik tried another stunt in relation to the minicamp already, saying that Penn could be fined for not attending when he knew full well that the Bucs had no recourse with a player who is not under contract.

Believe it or not, Penn actually flew in to take part in the team’s fanfest on Saturday, perhaps a goodwill gesture on his part.

“I’m not going to minicamp,” Penn said, according to “Mark and (coach) Raheem (Morris) know that, we already talked about that. I’m not going. I’m a good guy. I don’t talk bad about the organization and I’m never going to start. From weeks and during the season, I want to be a Buc for the rest of my life if I can. It's not in my hands.

“You have to look at all these guys getting tendered. It’s their first year getting tendered. Only me and the guy from Houston got tendered two years in a row. I’m in a different boat than them. It happened to me twice in a row, so it’s kind of tough. I’m going to be patient, be calm and control what I can control. Everything that’s going on right now is out of my control. If we had a new (collective bargaining agreement) I would never have been in this position.”

Whether or not the Bucs want Penn longterm is open for debate. Dominik told a group of season-ticket holders in a Q&A session that Penn was woefully out of shape – basically a slob – and that is why his contract situation didn’t get resolved. A blogger recorded the comments and the Bucs later protested when it hit the Internet claiming his remarks were “off the record.” Since when did speaking to a group of season-ticket holders constitute “off the record?” Are the Bucs, with flagging season-ticket sales, going to revoke someone’s tickets?

“I don’t read that stuff,” Penn said. “My agent did call me. I was very disappointed. Me and Mark had a long talk earlier today. He talked to my agent that day. We're good. Mark is one of my biggest fans.”

Said Dominik: “I apologized to him. Donald is an important member of this football team and a guy that I’m extremely fond of. We had a good heart-to-heart conversation. I was glad he came out here for the fans tonight. It shows that Donald is really a member of this football team and really excited about being still part of this football team. I look forward to that happening. Donald and I have always had a great relationship.

“The fact that I made some public statements about my feelings and I didn’t think that was fair to him (about) his weight. You should always live in a world of society that you’re always ‘on.’ That was insensitive and that’s why I apologized to him. I was happy to have a chance to sit and talk with him, look him in the eye and actually shake his hand. I think we’re in good shape. I’m glad he’s here. … I was more worried about my relationship with Donald. That’s what I’m mostly concerned about. I was glad tonight I had an opportunity to talk to him in private and apologize to him.”

Whether or not Penn will show when training camp commences remains to be seen. If he’s intent on getting a deal from the club, he’ll need to at least maintain that bargaining chip. Because the Bucs have thoroughly mismanaged this one to this point, we’ll give them an opportunity to screw it up further down the road.

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