Oakland Raiders Need Leadership in 2009

Joseph LopezCorrespondent IJanuary 10, 2009

Remember when the Oakland Raiders won three straight AFC West Division titles from 2000-2002? Remember when quarterback Rich Gannon threw for 10 300-yard games and won the NFL MVP in 2002?

I sure do. But those great memories are fading fast, as the new Raiders continue their downward spiral. The Raiders (5-11) finished the season on a strong note, beating Tampa at Tampa to close out the year. But the Raiders have not had a winning season since their Superbowl appearance.

The biggest reason why the Raiders aren't winning now is because they have absolutely no leadership. When Gannon was signed by the Raiders as a free agent in 1999, the Raiders turned things around.

And in 2000, the journeyman quarterback guided the silver-and-black to a 12-4 record and an AFC Championship appearance. The next two seasons also included playoff runs, including a trip to Superbowl XXXVII in the 2002-03 Season.

Gannon provided not only leadership qualities, he brought hard work ethic to a team that badly needed it. Gannon's MVP season was a prime example of how hard he worked, and how he turned the Raiders into winners.

Granted, they had great receivers like Tim Brown, Jerry Rice, and Jerry Porter, but the offense was built around Gannon. Gannon's leadership helped the Raiders become winners.

Now, the Oakland Raiders are in a situation where they need to have a positive offseason. The Raiders owner, Al Davis, really needs to step down from his position so that a new direction can take place. Al Davis' Raiders are not committed to excellence, they're committed to failure.

After Davis fired Head Coach Lane Kiffin, the Raiders finished their season with a 5-11 record under Tom Cable.

Heading into the 2009 season, the Oakland Raiders need to find someone who can provide them with the kind of leadership Rich Gannon did. JaMarcus Russell will need to step up and become the leader of the offense. Al Davis will have to swallow his pride and step down.

The Raiders are not as bad as the Detroit Lions (0-16), but if a leader is not found or established in the Oakland clubhouse, they might just make a run for the Lions' money.