Raiders quarterbacks rarely boring

By Joe Mayes  |   Thursday, April 17, 2008  |  Comments( 3 )

Oakland Raiders
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Since the 1960s, when the Raiders employed Daryle Lamonica as their quarterback, every one of the team's signal-callers has brought a sense of potentially historic greatness or cataclysmically horrific disaster with every pass. In the past 40 years, many fans of the Raiders haven't enjoyed a single moment where they felt confident that the team’s quarterback would not do something monumentally stupid.

One thing you can say about Raiders quarterbacks: They may not instill much confidence, but they’re rarely boring (excluding Marc Wilson). It's reminiscent of the woman who enters an endless string of abusive relationships, swearing off that "type" forever, before diving headlong into yet another dysfunctional relationship. The only difference is that Al Davis keeps diving into the relationships and Raiders fans are the one who end up getting smacked around.

After Ken Stabler, who led the Raiders to a Super Bowl victory, came Jim Plunkett, who doubled his predecessor's championship total.

The truly dark days of Raiders quarterbacks began in 1984. With Plunkett gone, Oakland entered the Marc Wilson zone, a strange and horrifying time during which whatever the worst possible thing a quarterback could do would be done. With the game on the line. On national television. These were the years spent at the bottom of the ravine after having fallen over the precipice. Or more precisely, having been pushed over by Wilson. For true Raider fans, the Wilson years never happened.

Then came a succession of disasters with no corresponding upside to ease the pain. If you want to send a Raiders fan into convulsions, simply mention Rusty Hilger, Jay Schroeder, Steve Beuerlein, Todd Marinovich or Billy Joe Hobert. It’s bad when the only solace offered in an entire era came from Vince Evans.

Jeff Hostetler was probably as close to a calming influence at quarterback as the Raiders have had, but his mustache alone is worthy of the occasional nightmare to fans.

Then, of course, came the Jeff George experiment, which lasted all of two seasons.

Wade Wilson was followed by Rich Gannon, who is considered by many to be a savior of the Raiders in the new millennium. After all, he led the team to its most recent Super Bowl after the 2002 season. Nevertheless, every game seemed to be one Gannon temper tantrum away from making Evans the first quarterback in history to be drawing an NFL paycheck and social security at the same time (pre-Vinny Testaverde era).

After a run which included Rick Mirer, Kerry Collins, the Aaron Brooks/Andrew Walter hybrid, and a year of Josh McCown splitting time with rickety Daunte Culpepper, Raiders fans have reason to be excited about the quarterback position again.

JaMarcus Russell will enter the 2008 season as the starter, with all of 66 pass attempts under his belt (reported to be the largest in the NFL with Tony Siragusa retired). In true Raider fashion, Russell is poised to continue the long legacy of Raider quarterbacks who, frankly, scare the heck out of the team’s fans.

Sleep well, Raiders fans.
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About Joe Mayes

Joe Mayes is an award-winning writer with credits ranging from national sports columns to local newspapers and commercial and technical writing. Joe is the host of "The Morning Wrap," a morning drive-time sports talk radio show on WTKE-FM in Northwest Florida.
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