Most thought from Jeff Garcia’s initial comments after signing with the Oakland Raiders in April that it reflected his clear understanding of the role he would be playing on the team as backup and mentor to JaMarcus Russell.
“I realize that JaMarcus right now is the anointed starter. I’m going to support him and help him any way that I can, ” Garcia said in a NBC Bay Area Sports Exclusive.
That was in April right after he signed with the Raiders.
Then came Mini-Camp where Garcia got to see Russell’s skills in person as well as the talent he has to work with.
Shortly thereafter in mid-May Garcia did a radio interview with KLAC (Los Angeles) which showed a change from ‘knowing his place’ on the roster to leaving it up to the coach to decide.
“…if for some reason with what I bring as a player, from a competitive nature, and just the intensity and emotion that I bring to the field, and the knowledge of the game that I have - if that gives us a better chance to win football games, then that decision is going to have to be left up to the coach and hopefully he can make the right decision for the team.”
Then there were the Organized Team Activities (OTA’s) that had Garcia missing the first two due to the birth of his son and also in-which Russell was a no-show on the last day of the third and final OTA.
Los Angeles Times reporter Sam Farmer spoke with Garcia after the OTA’s and Garcia could not have been clearer about his belief and desire for the starting quarterback position.
“…I just have a belief in my own abilities; those things have me feeling that I am the best quarterback on the team."
Having the second stringer talk about his desire to be the starter is one thing but when you have players on the team starting to talk about it is another as Raiders safety Keith Davis did in a mid-June interview with Sirius Satellite Radio.
“Me, just being in this league for the seven years I have been in it and just being around those guys, me, personally, I think Garcia is better prepared to get us that win right now.”
Yet while the mainstream media have been hesitant to use the phrase ‘quarterback controversy’ in their reporting on the Oakland Raiders it is becoming clear that is the reality.
In an off-season where the Raiders and their now permanent head coach Tom Cable have seemed to be winning compared to the actions of their division rivals it cannot be welcome news and will become a distraction for the team by the time training camp starts later this month.
Although (and this is fitting in honor of Al Davis’ 80th birthday this last Saturday) we should take into consideration the opinion of ESPN reporter, Chris Mortensen, who said this yesterday about Garcia’s recent comments,
“If anything, the Raiders like the idea of one of the most competitive players in this league (Garcia) pushing a guy who has had a little bit of a reputation for not being the hardest worker and I’m speaking about JaMarcus Russell.”