After finally cracking the starting lineup and breaking the 1,000-yard mark for the Oakland Raiders, Justin Fargas is going to Disneyland!
Well, metaphorically speaking at least; in reality, Fargas will be honored with the franchise's 2007 Commitment to Excellence Award. First awarded in 1966, the honor is bestowed upon the player "who best exemplifies the pride, poise and spirit of the Oakland Raiders."
The Steering Committee for the Booster Clubs of the Oakland Raiders will make it official on March 7 with a "black tie optional" (surely that should be "silver-and-black tie mandatory") dinner. Last year's recipient was Nnamdi Asomugha.
(Incidentally, if you haven't seen this Raider Nation citizen's Web site, check it out for the video highlights of last year's Commitment to Excellence dinner. Really.)
Also recently announced was Fargas' naming as the Raiders' Ed Block Courage House Award winner. The Ed Block Courage Awards were inaugurated in 1978, are named for ex-Baltimore Colts trainer Ed Block, and are "distributed to one player from each NFL team who, in the eyes of his teammates, best exemplifies and displays courage."
Now here's an excellent performance turned in by apparently not only a key player to the Oakland offense, but an eminently likable one as well: Fargas is apparently one of those "great locker-room guys" the talking heads like to mention. The Commitment to Excellence Award is decided upon by a franchise-based committee, the Block Awards by popular vote within the team. This would seem to indicate that, along with making the jump to the starting rotation, Fargas is emerging as a leader type who represents a fundamental part of the Raider community itself.
So, again, what is Al Davis' apparent rush to dispose of this well-liked, breakout performer? Davis, blinded by the light of imagined stars emerging from the draft, has forgotten a key bit of the "Commitment to Excellence" mantra: Namely, that without commitment in today's NFL, excellence is hard to come by.
One more time, then, for Mr. Davis (no relation), yearbook style. Justin Fargas: played college ball at USC; ran for over 1,000 yards last season; filled a power vacuum that was ostensibly to be filled by Dominic Rhodes and disappointing LaMont Jordan (Hey, Al, why don't you trade one of these guys instead?); has blocking skills to put him among the best halfbacks in the NFL; put up four 100-yard games in 2007, including the 179-yard romp against the Miami Dolphins and 33 carries for 146 against the Denver Broncos, both wins; a Raider for all five years of his career; given offseason awards that indicate his popularity among the squad.
It seems to this observer that it all adds up to re-signing Fargas. Do the right thing, Al.
And congratulations to Justin Fargas, one of the game's good guys.
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