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Old 12-09-2007   #1
Wolf
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Default Penn and Willams:tale of 2 players

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Tampa Bay offensive tackle Donald Penn might want to seek out Mario Williams today and talk about the financial inequities of the NFL.

'C'mon now,' Penn snapped. 'You're just trying to start something.'

Penn and Williams, the Houston Texans defensive end, actually could have a pretty engaging chat about their diametrically opposite career paths. And they won't have to go far for the conversation.

They'll be on the other side of each other's facemask.

The 6-foot-6, 286-pound Williams, out of North Carolina State, was the No. 1 overall pick of the 2006 draft. He signed a rookie record contract for $62.1million that included $26.9 million guaranteed.

The 6-5, 305-pound Penn, out of Utah State, went unselected in the '06 draft. Instead, he signed as a free agent with the Minnesota Vikings, got cut and then re-signed to the team's practice squad just before the start of the season. After the Buccaneers signed Penn to their active roster about a month into the season, he went on to make a pro-rated version of the league-minimum $275,000 contract.

Those numbers will mean nothing today.

'I look at it as a chance to open up some eyes,' Penn said.

The discrepancy in the dollar signs are eye-opening enough, especially considering so much is riding on the outcome of today's game between the Bucs (8-4) and Texans (5-7) at Reliant Stadium. Tampa Bay comes in with a chance to wrap up the NFC South Division title, so protecting the blindside of the quarterback -- be it Jeff Garcia (with his sore back) or Luke McCown (with his big backup arm) -- will be paramount, given what Williams, with his franchise record 8 1/2 sacks, has done lately.

Penn's accomplishments, though, are impressive in their own right.
http://www.topix.net/content/trb/200...ifferent-paths
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