To some, it has to be the dream job. You get paid to play football, and make millions of dollars a week.
The only catch is, your job primarily consists of being a cheerleader on the sideline or during the weekly practice, imitating the opposing teams' star wideout.
Welcome to the world of Javon Walker, wide receiver for the Oakland Raiders.
Javon started out his career in good function, with the Green Bay Packers. A first-round draft pick, he put in four seasons of being a target for Brett Favre. In 2004, he was named to the Pro Bowl, after amassing over 1,000 yards receiving and 12 touchdowns.
His next season would be a disaster, as he was injured in his first week, missing the rest of the year. On to Denver, he would recover to gain 1084 yards with eight touchdowns but his last year in Denver would be at half-speed, with eight games and 26 catches.
His trip to Oakland would be a curious adventure, both the lingering feeling from having a teammate die at close range, to being beat up in Las Vegas, it wasn't exactly the "fresh start" anyone could have imagined. Getting a major contract from Al Davis didn't help matters either, as people considered it yet another sign that Al had overspent on diminishing returns.
An ugly 2008 season would have him with 15 catches and less than 200 yards before being shut down had many wondering if the Raiders would ditch him, in similar fashion to DeAngelo Hall and Gibril Wilson.
During the recent offseason, Javon Walker looked to be motivated for the 2009 season. He made news with an offseason surgery, some rumors pointed to it being performed overseas, to help him recover better and faster. With Oakland drafting several players who could learn from Walker's talents, this could be a great way for him to resurrect his career.
It seems his lessons would be from the practice fields, and not with game time.
To date, Javon Walker has seen only a single play for the Raiders, a punt return for zero yards. No deep threat plays, no long yardage formations and even when a play that would call out for him, usually Tom Cable will elect to go for younger players.
How many of us would think, what would Oakland have done, if Walker was in there instead of Darrius Heyward-Bey?
Instead, Javon Walker becomes an oddity, a player who is paid like a king, but never performs: the greatest act to never be seen.
You have to wonder if it frustrates him inside. Before the season opened, he was looking forward to the chance of proving others wrong. He wanted to opportunity to erase those old feelings, to give Al some credit for salvaging his career, at a time when he was ready to toss it in the can.
Recently he was requesting a trade, but even this request has gone silent.
Tom, for the game in Cleveland, why not use a player who is used to catching in cold weather? Might surprise a few. You never know.
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