Do the Raiders even know the meaning of win anymore?
In 2002, the Oakland Raiders reached the Super Bowl. We got pounded in that game, mainly because Jon Gruden knew just about everything the Raiders were going to do. Since that loss, we haven't been the same since.
For the last seven years, Raider Nation has gone through seven straight seasons of disappointment. The Raiders have lost 11 games each season. Since Gruden's departure, Al Davis has gone through five head coaches. If you go through a coach every season, then naturally you won't have any consistency.
Whose fault is it? Naturally, the blame should be on Al Davis. He's the owner, GM, and scouting department all in one. He's made some of the worst draft choices this decade: JaMarcus Russell, Michael Huff, Robert Gallery (bust as a tackle), and Sebastian Janikowski (only because he was drafted in first round).
He's made the worst signings and re-signings of the decade: Javon Walker, DeAngelo Hall (sign-and-trade), Tommy Kelly, and Gibril Wilson.
Somewhere along the line, Davis lost the ability to build a winning team. After the 2003 season, he was in quick sand. Slowly but surely the Raiders sunk deeper and deeper in the depths of the league. Once completely under 2004-2006, the Raiders went in free fall. There wasn't a trace of what was there.
Al Davis made his worst decision of the decade by drafting a franchise QB with all the tools to make a great quarterback. JaMarcus Russell had a great arm and great size. But no intangibles. He didn't have leadership like Gannon. He didn't have accuracy. He didn't have a great work ethic. Yet Al Davis fell in love with his potential. He saw the next great Raiders quarterback.
But that's the problem; we didn't need a great quarterback. We needed a guy like Gannon. He wasn't great before he came to the Raiders. He was a journeyman quarterback. But he had the qualities JaMarcus Russell doesn't have.
But maybe the JaMarcus Russell benching did the Raiders some favors. It gave Bruce Gradkowski the chance to show himself. He has exemplified leadership. He gave the Raiders some passion and hope. The Raiders played inspired football for him. For JaMarcus Russell, his team quit on him.
None of us know who will be the starting quarterback next season. Heck, no one know what Tom Cable's fate is next season. So it all comes down to Al Davis.
He alone holds the fate of Raiders fans across the nation. He can think about what got them success in the past. Or he can draft the next quarterback with the big arm.
What we know, is that the Raiders need a leader for the future. They need a leader who holds the team together during the hard times, and celebrates with them in the good times. If it that person is Bruce Gradkowski, then so be it.
The Raiders have experienced success this season. But if they don't get or keep the next Rich Gannon next season, then they will find themselves in quick sand just like last time. And all of us will laugh at Al Davis because he fell in the quick sand again, and he knows what it looks like.