In 2001, there was one prospect that took the entire NFL world by storm. It was a quarterback from Virginia that could move like a running back, had an arm like Dan Marino's, and could make magic happen on any given play.
In the wake of Vick's recent scandal, there has been plenty of questioning as to whether he should be allowed to represent the NFL again. Personally, I'm on the fence regarding the issue, merely appreciating the fact that my name isn't Roger Goodell. In the meantime, the public is left to speculate as to possible destinations for his "return."
It's safe to say that Vick has obliterated his bridge back to Atlanta. Seattle (and his old coach Jim Mora) seem to be perfectly content without him. As ironic as it would be to see Vick don Cleveland-orange and be cheered on by the Dawg Pound, they seem confident enough in Brady Quinn.
So who in the NFL with the ability to sign paychecks would be willing to look past Vick's criminal image and remember the breathtaking prospect that came out of Virginia?
No, not "crazy old Al Davis." The Al Davis that created a dynasty by bringing castoffs to the Silver and Black. Davis has clearly been the target of several jokes over the last few years, in part due to the failures of the Raiders since their Super Bowl run.
What's an owner to do when you can't get a single offensively-minded coach to produce an offense in six years? Davis has clearly retaken control of Oakland's football team and has already taken steps to start rebuilding. It started in 2007 with the No. 1 overall choice, JaMarcus Russell.
In the glorious past of Oakland football, championships were won when a franchise quarterback was under center. Kenny "The Snake" Stabler scrambled his way to a Super Bowl win. Jim Plunkett was good enough to double that accomplishment. Even Daryle "The Mad Bomber" Lamonica won in the AFL.
The plan is, and has always been, to have Russell develop into that kind of franchise-caliber QB and win a championship. But suppose that doesn't happen.
I know, I know. He's a fantastic talent. Unlimited potential and all that. But he hasn't proven anything, and with resounding questions about his work ethic and accuracy now arising, the idea of a replacement is no longer ridiculous.
Jeff Garcia can attest to that. Garcia signed with Oakland this offseason because he believes that starting over, JaMarcus isn't out of the question. Garcia, by the way, is another fearless scrambler that extends plays with his legs.
So let us begin our journey down Hypothetical Avenue. Imagine that JaMarcus plays terrible football in September and is benched in favor of Garcia. I don't foresee this being the end of Russell's career in Oakland, but his status as "untouchable" surely will be diminished.
One problem with this scenario. Garcia is 39 years old and can't be counted on as a long-term solution. But if he does in fact get the playing time, and Oakland's offense is successful under Garcia, Oakland will no doubt be looking for more competition for Russell with a similar skill-set.
And so we arrive at our destination. The ultimate Raider reclamation project.
Vick could bring a new dimension to Oakland. He could catapult the team to the center of the national spotlight (even if that spotlight is tainted). He could instantaneously make Oakland's weaknesses in pass protection irrelevant. He could make the Raiders competitive again.
He could, if the events I listed happen to shake out like that.
But don't count on it.
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