Different Types Of NFL Players: Bruce Gradkowski Is Moving On Up

Jarrod CooperCorrespondent IJanuary 8, 2017

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

At a young age I always knew that the best man is supposed to win.

I have always tried to apply this rule to day to day living. You can imagine how this played out every time I stepped on the football field. It was a rude awakening to find when politics get involved the rule changes, as its no longer about the best man.    

I’m sure by now all the NFL fans know that there are three different classes of players on NFL teams. First you have the high paid players, a team will always find a way to put these players on the field no matter what, even if they are not the best man for the job.

Then you have the work horse players, these are the guys that do all the dirty work and rarely are heard from in the media. The work horse is valuable to a team but often used as a bargaining tool in a trade for a high paid player as one high high paid player is worth two work horse players.

Last you have the bubble guys, which always seem to be on the bubble no matter how good or bad they perform.

They have the ability to be great but never quite get there. It’s no secret that these guys are also the lowest paid players on the team. Every class of players is interchangeable, but it doesn’t seem to happen as often as you would think. I wish I could tell you how players end up in one or the other but it remains a mystery.

You are probably thinking, the answer is simple Cooper?

The high paid players are better players; well it’s not always that easy. I have seen bubble players and work horse players perform better then high paid players every year I was in the NFL, and never could figure out why they never made it to the top position.

The only logical explanation I can come up with is politics.

The politics in the NFL run deep and wide as you all know. Just ask any player that has developed a hatred for a particular team or a coach, they usually get snubbed out of playing time, and then eventually get released. Politics is something that a player has to learn to deal with or he won’t be in the NFL very long.

No matter how shady or wrong, there will always be politics involved due to the amount of money the NFL generates.

The Oakland Raiders have a unique situation on their hand, they have a player that has moved up from bubble player to a work horse player and now he wants to take the next step. Bruce Gradkowski has proven himself time and time again in the eyes of the fans, his teammates and now the coaches. What does he have to do to get the high paid position? We all know that he doesn’t have a big name or a high draft status, but this is what I am talking about when it comes to politics in the NFL.

There is absolutely no reason why Gradkowski can’t get a fair chance to be Oakland's starting QB. You can’t honestly sit there and tell me Alex Smith gets six years trying to prove himself and Gradkowski can’t get one. The NFL is supposed to be the best of the best, so if a player is in the NFL, they should have the capability to perform at a NFL level.

Smith started as a high paid player and has worked his way down to a bubble player, but he had the high draft status and the big name that kept him in NFL. I would say that Gradkowski could have a chance to be a starting QB in the NFL on another team, but every team has a big name player in that top position that will always snub him out.

Fans and players alike want to see the best men on the field, to give their team a better chance to win. When it comes down to it, winning is the only thing that matters in the NFL. If you didn’t believe that there were politics in the NFL this should open your eyes.    

Now that Oakland has their first victory of the season, the players will start building more confidence in each other and their coaches. As a professional you want win you, but you have to be smart about it. I don’t know how good it was to pull Jason Campbell out of the game with the score 7-3 at the half. There is no magic player that is going to make all the right plays; it takes a collective effort from every player on the team.

I think Gradkowski has proven himself to be worthy of a starting QB, but changing your QB is not like changing your running backs, like some people would like you to believe. There is a reason why it makes big news when a team changes their starting QB. Each QB has a different way of communicating with his offense. They throw the ball different, they make different offensive checks, everything about a QB is unique.

So when you change a QB in the middle of a game you don’t only crush the starting QB's confidence but you also put pressure on the rest of the offense to know the differences between the two. Some people may not agree but you have to think of the entire team when making that decision. The team's overall performance wasn’t as high as it needs to be, but the NFL is funny like that. Everyone forgets the mistakes when you bring home a victory. It also gives the Raiders another week to get better, and getting better from week to week is how the NFL is played.

Last week I rated the Raiders with a well deserved 2.5, but this week with the performance of McFadden and other young players, plus a come from behind victory, I rate the Raiders with a 6.5. It wasn’t with out many faults, but it doesn’t matter how bad things looked when you win a game.

Jarrod Cooper
8 year Veteran
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