Two of the greatest quarterbacks the Raiders had in their early history, can serve as a good lesson for today's team: Daryle Lamonica and Ken Stabler.
Daryle Lamonica, for his numbers, wasn't well-received on arrival in the Bay Area. Fans had warmed up to Tom Flores and aside from injuries, looked like the future for the team.
Al Davis, who was still working behind the scenes, wanted to "stretch the field," in more ways than one. Looking for ways to improve a team, he was wanting to find a QB that was ready to air it out, to surprise the club and provide some shock value. Granted at the time of the trade Al was a little surprised, being that the GM had pulled the trigger on the deal, Al was more upset at the cost of the trade, in general due to the looking of a two for one setup with the Bills. Daryle had been lodged behind Jack Kemp in Buffalo and when he had his chances to play, wasn't exactly eye-opening.
But, through the naysayers and booing, Daryle Lamonica set the bar high for the Raiders, losing only 4 games in three seasons.
Not bad, considering in 1967 he threw eight interceptions in two games.
Al Davis grew to enjoy these games, considering that Daryle led the Raiders into their first Super Bowl, up against the Green Bay Packers.
In those days for the Raiders, people would enjoy seeing a team with a vicious defense, speed to burn on running plays and a style of football that was unheard of in the NFL at that time.
Fast forward to 1973, when Daryle Lamonica was starting to show his age. In the few games he would start, Al Davis saw a grand divide between the Mad Bomber and The Snake. Lamonica was known for throwing it deep and Ken Stabler was able to pick his opponents apart, if not run like mad to stay alive.
Lamonica, showing his age threw two touchdowns but eight interceptions. Stabler, meanwhile tossed 14 TDs and 10 INTs. When Stabler took over, Lamonica's time as a starter was over.
Do you think Al Davis was happy? His team had gone 8-2-1 after Stabler had taken over and into the playoffs, going 1-1 before a loss to the Dolphins eliminated them.
For all that Stabler had done, Al was not happy with the choice of Stabler. Ironically, Stabler wasn't the first QB he picked in the draft, back in 1968.
A player known as Eldrige Dickey, out of Tennessee State was Davis' idea for the future. Other people for the Raiders wanted to go with Stabler.
Guess whose voice made the choice?
Yep, the same one that is still calling the shots in Oakland.
Surprisingly, this grudge match continued, as Stabler was able to give the Raider the one thing Lamonica couldn't, a Super Bowl win. While he put on a good media face, explaining how many wins the Raiders had in professional football, secretly, he was unhappy with the team. John Madden had changed his team from a all-out passing club to a physical, punishing team. Ken Stabler had changed the offense from the long bomb to a more controlled, finesse team.
So, as things started to fall apart after the 1978 season, Al Davis had his chance to restamp his image on the club.
For one, Ken Stabler's best weapon, Fred Biletnikoff was losing playing time. Al Davis wanted his favorites to play, and they did....poorly. Some of Al's preferred players, such as Morris Bradshaw, couldn't catch as well. Others, like Art Whittington failed to block in the pocket, leading to Ken's drop in production.
Given the storm cloud that enveloped the team in 1978, losing John Madden as a coach half of Al's plan was working....trading off Ken Stabler was to happen later.
So how does this relate to Oakland's present situation?
Al Davis selected his quarterback. JaMarcus Russell. He doesn't care if the fans boo him, he doesn't care if the coaches hate him.
He wants Russell to win, pure and simple.
He he doesn't think that a present coach can do the job, he'll swap out a coach, until he thinks the coaching staff has it.
If they don't, add another year, do it again.
Al Davis took close to a decade for him to decide Marc Wilson didn't have it, but got rid of Todd Marinovich in short order.
For the fans, we can only hope that one of two things happen: JaMarcus Russell plays, and wins big time...or Russell goes down, Bruce Gradkowski wins and sends Al Davis into a state of shock and he realizes that Russell doesn't have it.
Otherwise, we could see a replay of the Jim Plunkett/Marc Wilson show all over again.
References: Just Win, Baby, by Glenn Dickey