A while ago I penned an article, questioning who was better, Fred Biletnikoff or Cliff Branch. Pretty simple, was that both players were exceptional, some felt there was no separating the players of greatness. Only the Hall of Fame tried to make a separation, given Biletnikoff had the yardage, the catches, and an MVP award to enshrine him over Branch.
Now, for those of you with weak stomachs, or an urge to smash the monitor, I have to ask...who are the absolute worst top three quarterbacks?
Right now, there is one, JaMarcus Russell, that has worn out his welcome faster than Marcus Allen could run. In three seasons, we saw his best, his worst, and everything inbetween. Sadly, a comeback attempt against the Broncos, a rally against the Bucs in 2008 the games against the Broncos in week 12 and the Texans in week 16, don't make up for a blowout in week 14, the torture at the hands of Atlanta, or his 11 interception season last year.
When fans are burning your jersey in the parking lot, JaMarcus...they don't like you, pure and simple.
The next player to come up for consideration had the hard task of playing against Jim Plunkett, the ageless sage, and being born with the inability to have muscles. Marc Wilson, who could have been a scarecrow with his frame, was well-known for dropping back to pass and then falling down. Sometimes, falling down would cough up the ball, but to his credit he does have a winning record with the Raiders, at 31-19. However, he does have 86 interceptions against 77 touchdowns.
The lion's share of his wins would come in the 1985 season, where he went 11-2, however many Raider fans are also quick to notice this was during the days of Marcus Allen and the last remains of our defensive team...as players got hurt and Allen saw himself in Al's doghouse, the entire team started to feel it. By the 1987 season, Wilson went 2-5, playing most of the time hurt. There was times that no other quarterback was able to go, but Marc would trot out, busted up or not.
Hey, if all else failed...could you imagine Ray Guy passing for the Raiders? Couldn't hurt.
The last candidate, is the one that comes with a lot of question marks.
Todd Marinovich was drafted by the Raiders in the same year that a little known player was drafted by the Falcons named Brett Favre. The Raiders should not be alone in this screaming misery, as draft picks that year were horrible. Look at the bright side...we didn't take Dan McGwire, did we?
At the same time, there was a lot of media signs talking about Marinovich. His dad, after all was a former Raider. Sports Illustrated thought of him highly, as he graced the cover back in 1988. His dad raised him to not eat things like Oreos or candy. His dad literally controlled his every action, from parties (no cake but his own), to dealing with strength training as a toddler.
Now, for those of you who have gone from one job to another, in a different field, it's kind of a shock, isn't it? You have to learn where to park, who to talk to, when breaks are, you learn to adjust...right?
Todd Marinovich went from ultra-control to free spirit, in a short time. In college, he started having issues, ranging from being out from under his dad's control, to trying to handle the strains of college football at USC. While some remember his better games, a 91 yard drive in the last minute with 11 completions, touchdown and two point conversion...many felt Sports Illustrated was right. But when the wheels would come off, like the cocaine possession charge in his 1990 season, he left for the draft...and into chaos.
In the 1991 season, Todd Marinovich spent a lot of time on the bench, waiting for his chance to finally start. That start was the last game of the season, against the Kansas City Chiefs, a game where he had three touchdowns...but still lost the game. Ironically, he would also play them in the first round of the playoffs...and got ran over, throwing four interceptions. His first year in the league, and he was 0-1, and 0-1 in the playoffs.
In 1992, Todd was started after the Raiders had a 0-2 start under Jay Schroeder. He played well in some games, but even with the hard work, would not always turn into wins. He passed for 395 yards in his first game in, yet still lost and the Raiders would sink to 0-4 before a win against the New York Giants. But after a disaster against the Eagles, Todd Marinovich would not start again in the NFL.
What happened? It turns out Todd Marinovich was addicted to the partying lifestyle he brought over from college. He also was noted for substance abuse, with a medicine chest of choices. LSD, Amphetamines, Cocaine, and marijuana, topped off with Alcohol. Somehow, all of this didn't kill him, but by his 1993 training camp he had failed a third drug test...and he was done with the Raiders.
So, looking at the three sad sack cases, how would you rank them? You have a player who simply doesn't care to play at the best of his ability, a player who tried to give everything he had but was injured most of the time and a player who killed his career by abusing himself with drugs.
Personally, I'd stick Marinovich up at No. 1. The Raiders thought highly of the player the media was proud of and Al bought into it. Granted, The Raiders were a far cry from an ideal moral compass...but Todd simply detonated in the conditions thrust on him.
At No. 2, I would put Russell. His work ethic has been suspect and the player can go from hero to goat...and does not care what people think, apparently. He takes no responsibility for his actions...Al has made a fool a king...and the servants are rebelling.
Lastly, Marc Wilson. I might have put Wilson in at second, but after reading a book called "It's Ok, It's Only a Bruise", you gain a better look at what Marc Wilson tolerated, was forced to work with and how some games...literally he was the last choice the Raiders had out on the field. The story about how the team had to play the Chicago Bears in 1984...makes you wince reading it.
You're OK, It's Just A Bruise: A Doctor's Sideline Secrets About Pro Football's Most Outrageous Team(1995) - Rob Huizenga M.D.