Javon Walker is this year's training camp head case

Al's WingmanAnalyst IAugust 5, 2008

Raider Nation knows that it's no secret. When Emperor Al Davis went looking for a wide receiver to compensate for losing an unmotivated, clearly contemptuous Randy Moss and Jerry Porter, he replaced one head case for another.

Javon Walker has had some success in the NFL, and anyone can see the upside. When healthy, he brings potential for big plays.

The problem is, like so many of Al's rehabilitation projects, Javon Walker was nowhere near where he needed to be—mentally or physically—to fulfill the role of a primary receiver when he was signed.

He has demonstrated that he has not overcome those problems as the preseason looms ahead this week. As current training-camp drama suggests, if not for his large contract, it is questionable if Javon would even make the team.

The signing of Javon Walker for double-digit millions is a clear indication that Al believed Javon would be a home run, downfield threat. One can imagine Emperor Al watching a Javon highlight reel, probably wondering how in the world Denver would give up on him.

The reality is that you would have to be deluded to think a guy with a blown-out knee, an unproven commitment to rehab (which would at least tell us he takes his profession seriously), and who is still reeling from off-field issues (his close friend Darrent Williams' death) could possibly fulfill the role of downfield threat.

It has been said by many that Javon Walker has LOST his speed due to the knee problems. Can a guy come back from a knee injury and be just as fast as he was? Maybe if you are Jerry Rice, but usually, no.

Can a guy overcome psychological issues and still be effective? Sure, EXCEPT if the guy is too immature to learn from his mistakes, and he goes out and repeats them! This time with more physical and emotional impacts to himself.

Javon was misled into a robbery, where his bling was lifted and he was left sprawled on the Vegas pavement. If that is not an indication of where this guy's life is at, I don't know what is.

Javon wants to retire, and that might be the best decision for the guy right now. At least sit the year out and get his act together. Why subject himself to a downward spiral? He is financially loaded for life as a result of previous contracts. He even offered to give Al back his bonus money.

Al refused.

To Al, this is about business. To those that want to kiss Al's keister, they can claim Al played the role of good-hearted mentor or supplicant father/brother/family friend. Al, the good Samaritan, to the rescue takes Javon under his wing and convinces him to continue his playing career—as a Raider.

The greatness of the Raiders is its future. Anyone worth a heap can see that's true, so long as you are wearing rose-colored glasses.

The fact of the matter is that Al is concerned with avoiding egg on his face. He can't let a top signing simply vanish without some type of salvage operation. Granted, it is a softer, guiding hand back to the huddle rather than the rough treatment he usually does for players who balk at living up to their contracts.

Unfortunately, the facts cannot hide that for every successful rehabilitation project he claims off waivers or signs to double-digit millions, there are 10 embarrassing bad ones.

The washouts rarely stick with us, but fans tend to remember the ones that worked out. If not for Jim Plunkett's success, one has to wonder if Al himself would actually believe he is smarter than the odds have proven over the years.

The right thing to do is let the guy go, reclaim the bonus money, and move on. Al won't do that, so when they guy plays poorly because the Emperor wants Javon in the game, it will be yet another smoking gun of Al's ineptitude as self-appointed GM and another reason why his team will not be successful.

Keep stocking up on that baggage you so much enjoy, big guy. At least your ship is evenly balanced so you'll sink straight to the bottom.