Oakland Raiders Fans Should Stop Hating on Stuart Schweigert

Rob CalongeAnalyst IMay 22, 2008

It's just too dang easy! It really is. Instead of watching the game, or in some cases re-watching the game, you can easily rely on a SportsCenter highlight to determine your viewpoint about a team, game, play, or player.

In some cases, such as former Raider Tyler Brayton getting caught kneeing punk Jeremy Stevens in the family jewels on prime time, these mini-clips can make a player look completely different than what they truly are. In Brayton's case, the mild mannered, hard-working defensive end that rarely made highlight-reel plays was determined to be the prototypical Raider hoodlum, which couldn't be further from the truth.

In the case of Stuart Schweigert, these mini-clips can make you look like an awfully bad football player. Whether it was a Ladanian Tomlinson touchdown run, a Tony Gonzalez touchdown catch, or any of Denver's running backs dragging him for ten more yards, Raider Nation and the haters both looked at him as the culprit for the big momentum shift.

I'm not blind. If you are looking for a hard hitting, snot jarring, play-making safety, Schweigert is not going to be your first choice. While I think he could be a playmaker in the right defense, thanks to his speed and soft hands, he was never to be confused with George Atkinson or Jack Tatum. He just never has had the killer instinct to be that enforcer in the secondary, which the Raiders have so desperately needed over the past few years...Ok, the past decade...alright, since Ronnie Lott donned the Silver and Black.

So, with Raider Nation expecting a Lott, Schweigert was doomed to disappoint. But think of all the safeties before him? Besides Rod Woodson and Eric Turner, name a safety over the past 15 years to wear the patched-eyed bandit on his helmet that didn't disappoint.

Can anyone say that Schweigert was worse than Anthony Dorsett? How about Derrick Gibson? Sure, he was no Vann McElroy, but he wasn't one of those first guys either. Does anyone reading this think Calvin Branch was better? Ok, I'll give you Eddie Anderson, but that's a close call.

Would you like to see the rest of the list? Patrick Bates, Chris Carr, Perry Carter, Rickie Dixon, Torin Dorn, Hiram Eugene, Johnie Harris, James Hasty, Derrick Hoskins, Carl Kidd, Dan Land, Albert Lewis, Lorenzo Lynch, Keyon Nash, Elvis Patterson, Reggie Tongue, James Trapp, Denard Walker, Lionel Washington, and Brock Williams, are the players listed as DB's who were notable or played for more than one season in the Raiders' secondary since Lott moved on to the Jets.

Out of that bunch, I'd be willing to give you Dan Land and Albert Lewis as guys who were as good or better than Schweigert as a Raider. So, in 16 years, the Raiders have had four or five guys who were as good or better than Schweigert play safety. Better yet, none of those guys were even in the league over the past five years.

The biggest complaint that I read and hear is that Schweigart couldn't tackle, yet in the only year that he's started all 16 games, he had 107 tackles. That's a linebacker number! I also hear that he didn't take good angles to the tackle.  Hmm, normally when you saw Schweigert looking out of position, it's because he was out of position for a strong safety or linebacker.

People forget, or don't know, that with his speed, Schweigert covered a lot of ground, and that was his downfall with the Raiders. Many of the out of position tackles he was making were cover-ups for strong safeties like Derrick Gibson or linebackers like Sam Williams.

The fact that his number was called so often should've been a sign to Raider Nation that this guy wasn't the problem. Instead, he's been booed and vilified on message boards as 'terrible.' If you must blame anyone for the lack of an enforcer in the secondary, blame the person who picked Michael Huff to be a strong safety.

Yeah, I'm a Raiders fan that thinks highly of Stuart Schweigert, so?  I'm not even going to remind everyone that he was the type of professional athlete that a fan could be proud of, with his community service, team first attitude, and willingness to meet with fans. So yeah, I'm a fan of his too.

So long Stu, I hope that your career winds up being long, and that you don't come back to haunt the Raiders when it counts. I'll still root for you, other than games that the Raiders face you. Whatever you do, don't even think about running your mouth like Chris Carr or Jerry Porter, because then it won't matter what I think of you now. If that happens, then I'll know that all of my good feelings about you will have been for nothing.

Rob Calonge writes for Thoughts from the Darkside on MVN.com.  More Raiders stories and articles by Rob can be found at http://mvn.com/nfl-raiders