Donovan McNabb Mystery: Oakland Raiders To Make Curious Stop in QB's Backyard

Tim PetersonCorrespondent IApril 1, 2010

ARLINGTON, TX - JANUARY 9:  (R-L) Tony Romo #9 of the Dallas Cowboys shakes hands with Donovan McNabb #5 of the Philadelphia Eagles after the Cowboys 34-14 victory against the Eagles in the 2010 NFC wild-card playoff game at Cowboys Stadium on January 9, 2010 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

The NFL will be announcing the complete 2010 schedule, along with all of its primetime games sometime in mid-April. However, the league did manage to release its exhibition schedule.

Taking a closer look at the Oakland Raiders' four exhibition games, I found it to be very interesting and perhaps even revealing about Donovan McNabb’s future with the organization.

Don’t believe in conspiracies? How about Bigfoot or little green men? Well, now’s your chance to call me crazy—I mean, it sounds ridiculous, but my theory just might have legs.

The more I think about it, the more it feels like something the “marketing machine” of the NFL would have a hand in.  

With as much speculation that's being thrown out there about McNabb’s possible trade to Oakland and the coincidental release of the 2010 preseason schedule, this question begs to be asked: Does the National Football League know something the rest of us don’t?

When glancing at Oakland’s slate of preseason games, two of McNabb’s old haunts (Dallas, Chicago) are front and center for everyone to see. Is this an indication that McNabb’s potential trade to Oakland is already a done deal?

As bizarre as it may sound, the deal could be in the can and the “star chamber” of the NFL is merely controlling the situation—waiting for the league’s first ever primetime draft to make the announcement.

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It makes sense from a television ratings standpoint. This trade would be the biggest news of the offseason, so why not make the announcement during one of the league's most visible events?

Now, before you dismiss the idea, think about this: Earlier this week, a Philadelphia team source said that "many" teams are possible suitors for McNabb’s services and that the situation might not be decided until April's draft.

On the other hand, a logical alternative says McNabb has vetoed the trade and is refusing to come to Oakland.  Just let both sides of the argument resonate for a while as we go through the games in question.

Times and dates are still being set by the NFL for Oakland’s first exhibition game, which will be played against Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys.

Off the cuff, I wouldn’t read too much into this matchup. After all, the Cowboys played an exhibition game in Oakland last season, so it’s easy to see the Raiders returning the favor.

Still, if preseason games require a little extra juice to heighten the experience of an otherwise meaningless game, then why not make the Cowboys-Raiders affair the début of McNabb as a Raider?

Wouldn’t the fans pay to see an old NFC East rival get chased around the “Dallas Palace” for old time’s sake?

I believe they would.

And if that got you thinking, the next game for Oakland is a drop-dead clincher. This is real “grassy knoll” stuff, but stay with me.

The return of McNabb to his hometown of Chicago makes all the sense in the world. It’s a no-brainer for ticket sales and generating interest in a non-traditional game.

Oakland still has a strong national following, but the team usually limits the travel to one game and then dedicates the remainder of the exhibition season to regional contests. That’s not the case here, and one has to ask why?

What...are the Cardinals too good for the Raiders now?  

Unlike the regular season, the exhibition schedule is not subject to any rules or restrictions. Since 2002 teams have been able to negotiate their own deals with other individual teams to determine their own preseason schedule.

While it’s true that the league encourages teams to play regionalized matchups or continue mini-rivalries like the Bucs and Rams had back in the late ‘90’s, it’s not a decision left solely to the NFL. The league schedules the preseason and makes the game times, but individual teams have input on desired matchups.  

So the question is: Did the league just telegraph McNabb as the Raiders’ starting quarterback in 2010?

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