Oakland Raiders, Don't Forget Bruce Gradkowski

David WilsonCorrespondent IApril 30, 2010

PITTSBURGH - DECEMBER 06:  Bruce Gradkowski #5 of the Oakland Raiders looks on during the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers on December 6, 2009 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

What a great offseason it has been. 

For once the Raiders draft and trades have been almost universally approved by the sporting media, and just about every transaction has addressed an important need on this team.

The move for Jason Campbell was a very good one.

But in all this talk and acclaim of our new players, there is one guy who appears to have been lost in the shuffle.

Bruce Gradkowski.

Gradkowski was the Raiders' saviour last year, when he rescued the team from a dangerous downward spiral, in terms of both results and morale.

The players had just about given up on winning last year, and they had definitely given up on JaMarcus Russell.  Then Tom Cable did the right thing, and gave Gradkowski his chance.  

In Week 10, he came in at the death against the Chiefs.  But for Darrius Heyward Bey's drop deep in Kansas territory in the dying seconds (more than a drop, it was gifted to the safety as an interception), he would have pulled out a victory.

He led the team to unlikely victories against quality teams such as Cincinnati and Pittsburgh, throwing three fourth-quarter touchdowns to beat the Steelers.

The last quarterback to do that for the Raiders was Ken Stabler.

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Even when we lost, he was competent, and had a 2-2 record as a starter.  Almost inevitably though, Gradkowski got injured, as the offensive line was unable to protect him adequately.

But Gradkowski lit a fire under this team from a spark within himself, and showed us what our players were actually capable of.  He may also have saved Tom Cable's job.

Standing here now after a great offseason under Cable's influence, that should not be undervalued.

Now all the talk is of new additions Jason Campbell, Rolando McClain, and others, which is good.  But we should not forget Gradkowski, or the fire, passion, and sheer results he produced last year for the Silver and Black.

He has earned the right to compete for the starting job in 2010; he deserves that chance.

Good luck to Gradkowski, and good luck to Campbell. It's great to have two decent quarterbacks on the roster.

May the best man win.

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