Raiders need a lot of help |

Raiders need a lot of help

Darrell Moody
Appeal Sports Writer

Draft day is almost upon us, and I’ve listened to a multitude of radio talk shows and I’ve watched various ESPN shows daily regarding the NFL Draft.

I never thought I would see the day where the Raiders would end up with the first draft pick; never thought I’d see them drop so low that they have become a joke around the league in the minds of many.

The Raiders have a tough decision to make. What to do with that first pick? Quarterbacks JaMarcus Russell and Brady Quinn are out there for the taking, and the Raiders don’t have a quarterback on their roster capable of winning.

The talk is centering around Russell, but unless you have a punishing running game and an awesome defense, a rookie quarterback is rarely going to take a team to the playoffs immediately. There is just too much to learn in a short period of time.

Of course, I would settle for a .500 record, something which has eluded the Raiders in recent years.

Russell has Daunte Culpepper-like size and a strong arm. He could be as big as some of the defenders trying to sack him or chasing him around in the pocket. Russell has the advantage over Quinn in arm strength, and you know Al Davis likes to move the ball vertically. Quinn is more prototypical. He is considered more of West Coast-style quarterback. I question Quinn’s ability to escape a heavy rush or be an effective scrambler, though I see him as a more accurate passer.

There also is talk about trading down to acquire more draft picks. There is a guy out there named Trent Green from Kansas City that wouldn’t be a bad pick-up. That worked well for the 49ers in the early 80s when they drafted almost their entire starting secondary in one draft. That helped Bill Walsh earn the moniker “Genius.”

The other option is going offensive line. Because of injuries and inconsistent play, the offensive line did a horrible job of protecting Andrew Walter and Aaron Brooks, who has since been released by the team.

Of course the Raiders have Randy Moss, and he’s become one huge headache for the team.

Cancer in the dictionary has Moss’ picture next to it. Moss is all about Moss. Always has been and always will be. I know the Raiders don’t want to just give him away, but as good as he CAN be, he’s not worth the money and trouble of keeping him. He’s not productive enough. He and Terrell Owens are extremely overrated. They don’t do the little things that make receivers so valuable. When is the last time you saw either one of them block downfield.

Neither of those guys will ever be as good as Jerry Rice. I know that Rice had his tantrums when he didn’t feel he was getting the ball enough, but in my opinion they never divided the team like the behavior of Owens and Moss has.

Teams have proven over the years that you don’t need a tremendous wide receiver to win Super Bowls. Look at the Steelers. I wouldn’t classify Hines Ward or Plaxico Burress, when he was there, to be in the upper echelon. If I’m a coach, I’d rather have three or four dependable guys than just one “great” receiver.

I’ve never met Lane Kiffin, the Raiders new head coach. The only thing I know is that he was an assistant at USC, and not the first Trojan coach that Davis approached about the opening.

In Raiderville, it seems like the inmates have run the asylum ever since Jon Gruden left for Tampa Bay. From everything I read, neither Norv Turner, Art Shell nor Bill Callahan had control of the team. I doubt that a young guy like Kiffin will have the control or players needed to right the ship.

I’ve always liked Shell. I thought he should have gotten more than one year. A coach is only as good as his players, and trust me, there wasn’t a lot of healthy talent, mentally or physically, on the roster last year. Heck, even John Madden couldn’t have won with that team.

I long for the good ole’ days when the Raiders were considered a blue-collar team and identified with the community. In the old days, players like Kenny Stabler, Phil Villapiano and John Vella would socialize with fans after the game, and maybe drink a beer or two.

Davis tried to have a lot of the old Raiders around when they first returned from Los Angeles, and when one of the “old guard” told a player about the days of connecting with the fans after a game, the player just laughed and walked away. The former Raider just shook his head.

The modern player could care less about the fans. When is the last time you’ve seen a NFL player sign more than an autograph or two except when it was at a special team function? They think they are too good or don’t want to take the time.

I’m not sure if the Raiders still do their Family Day in Napa. That was a big success, because after a short practice, the players would sit at tables and fans could get autographs. It was probably their only chance all year to get that close to the players.

I feel sorry for the fans. They spend a lot of money every Sunday. They pour their heart and soul into cheering and supporting the team. Except for the one Super Bowl season, the fans have been cheated since the Raiders returned from Smogland.

C’mon Al get the Raiders back to the upper echelon. The fans of the Bay Area deserve it.