Recalling the Seeds of Chucky: Oakland Raiders 2003-???
Seeds of Chucky (2003)
The Oakland Raiders would return to contention from 2000-2002 with coach Jon "Chucky" Gruden and riding on the shoulders of aging players like Jerry Rice, Tim Brown, and Rich Gannon.
Al Davis would also buck the orthodoxy of the NFL Draft by selecting kicker Sebastian Janikowski in the first round of the 2000 NFL Draft because a kicker was seen as their biggest hole for a team that had a small window to succeed.
In 2000, Gannon would lead the Raiders to the AFC Championship game during the 2000-2001 postseason against the Baltimore Ravens, where DL Tony Siragusa would intentionally injure Gannon to sideline him (the NFL fined Siragusa for the hit).
The Ravens would eventually win the game and then defeat the New York Giants in the Super Bowl.
In 2001, Rice and Brown became the oldest receiver tandem to record more than 1,000 yards in the same season, and Rice would explode in the 2001 postseason against the Jets and thus prove that he was still a viable veteran. The Raiders would lose the next week in Foxboro in the "Tuck Rule Game."
After the "Tuck Rule Game" in 2002, Davis traded Gruden to Tampa Bay for draft picks while Gannon would earn the NFL's trophy for MVP when the Raiders posted an 11-5 record on Gannon's record-setting numbers for passing.
The Raiders would ultimately have their age exploited in a Super Bowl loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The aggressive tactics of Davis to win, however, would set the stage for a series of blunders by Davis, in which he would squander draft picks, trades, and free agent signings on busts but would also alienate coaches and players such as CB Phillip Buchanon and WR Jerry Porter.
This period in Oakland's history is storied because the blunders of Al Davis have directly affected the fortunes of other teams.
For instance, the Raiders passed on QB Philip Rivers and QB Ben Roethlisberger in the 2004 NFL Draft for OL Robert Gallery. The Chargers acquired draft picks they would use to select Pro Bowlers and Rivers from the Giants for Eli Manning (who has won a Super Bowl with the Giants), and Roethlisberger has won a Super Bowl with the Steelers.
The Raiders released QB Kerry Collins, who has now led the Tennessee Titans, in place of Vince Young, in 2008. The Raiders fired head coach Norv Turner, who has done respectably in San Diego. The Raiders allowed CB Charles Woodson to leave for Green Bay, and he has since returned to dominance as a corner.
More importantly, the blunders of Davis in the new millennium have begun to tarnish an otherwise great legacy.
By the way, the movie Seeds of Chucky premiered in 2004, not 2003, in which the Super Bowl between the Raiders and Buccaneers occurred. However, I chose to ret-con the name because I could not resist it.
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