A cloud of drama and controversy always seems to linger over the Oakland Raiders team. They are consistently one of the most penalized teams in the NFL, make controversial draft picks and give away great draft picks, and seem to have a regular headline story lurking around to feed the sports writers and analysts with juicy material to ensure they will earn nice pay checks. It now seems that the Cincinnati Bengals contributions to the Raiders will be the latest fodder to keep the media happy.
Will the Raiders end the 2011 season with a catastrophic meltdown, miss the playoffs, and be left with no draft picks to fill in the holes for the 2012 season or will a few former Bengals superstars catapult the Raiders over division foes and lead them to their first playoff berth since the 2002 season?
A few weeks ago, after losing their starting quarterback Jason Campbell for most of the remaining NFL season to a collarbone injury, the Raiders decided their back-up quarterbacks were not sufficient to win games and moved forward with a wildly controversial decision. As if the passing of legendary owner Al Davis (R.I.P. Al) and his supposed presence as the 11th man in the Raiders last-second victory less than a month ago over a tough Houston Texans team wasn’t enough drama.
The Raiders signed, then current but not active Cincinnati Bengal, Carson Palmer. Because of poor relations with Bengals staff and owners, Palmer was not active on their roster and was likely sitting on the couch eating potato chips and sipping frosty beverages while watching his friends and former teammates play the 2011 NFL season. He hadn’t seen game action in over 10 months.
Palmer was a great quarterback for several of his 9 seasons in the NFL and could still have many highlight reel plays and victories left in him. Was he ready to start leading a team to victories after 4 days of practice? Apparently not.
After a miserable performance by Raiders quarterback Kyle Boller in the first half of the game against the Kansas City Chiefs 2 weeks ago, Palmer got the call to come in and try to clean up Boller’s mess. The result was only 8 completions on 21 pass attempts, 3 interceptions, and a wretched 17.3% quarterback rating. More fun for the media writers and analysts.
The Raiders decided maybe Palmer needed to get a familiar face on the team to better acclimate him to the offense, improve his quarterback rating, and begin the push to the playoffs. What better option than a former Bengal teammate and superstar wide receiver. T.J. Houshmanzadeh was the answer and the Raiders just signed him to a contract and will try to get Palmer and Houshmanzadeh hooking up for touchdowns passes very soon.
A question remains. If the Raiders do make the playoffs and do some damage, do they need to all wear a small Bengals logo on their Jerseys next year to show their gratitude for the training the Bengals franchise has provided for its two former superstars?
As a die-hard Raiders fan, I have to object to adding another team’s logo to the Silver and Black’s jerseys but agree that the Raiders should fly the Bengals owner and coaching staff into Oakland for a nice dinner and pats on the back after the Raiders make the playoffs.
Even better, maybe the epicenter of dramatic events will unfold and the Bengals will fly to Oakland to meet them in a playoff match-up and the Raiders can save a few bucks on plane tickets…. A Raiders fan can only hope. “Just win Baby!”