(9/13/08) Ho hum, another bad Oakland team. The Raiders’ rabid fans can look forward to a season filled with TV shots of Al Davis staring blankly into space every time they give up a big play or get blown out.
Davis put together great teams in the 1970s, teams that had outstanding white players at just about every position. But like his patriarchal counterparts in college, Joe Paterno and Bobby Bowden, Davis “got with the program” and now can only remember the black players on those ’60s and ’70s powerhouses.
JaMarcus Russell, last year’s first overall draft pick, is the league’s latest “Great Black Hope” after a number of comically sad flameouts — Stewart, Culpepper, Leftwich, Vick, Young. Russell is a Culpepper type — 300 or so doughy pounds of reputed “athleticism” replete with the requisite black “rocket arm.” If Russell turns out to be as bad as most of the other “quarterbacks for the new century” have been, the NFL may be forced to somewhat dampen its enthusiasm for them if teams want to be competitive with the teams using “throwbacks,” you know, those “unathletic” guys with great hand-eye coordination and the ability to read defenses.
Andrew Walter, who does have a rocket arm and an accurate one at that, is a classic tall pocket passer who’s only chance to start was during the ’06 campaign on what may have been the worst offense in the history of the league, hardly a fair opportunity. But despite a sterling career at Arizona State, Walter has been universally written off as a bust and is currently the second string QB behind Russell.
Zach Miller had a fine rookie season at tight end and looks to be Russell’s favorite target this year, not surprising given the group of “professional” wide receivers on the team.
John Madsen, who was an excellent wide receiver for Utah, is the beefed up backup at tight end. Madsen should be told to lose 20 pounds and switch back to WR, as by doing so he would instantly be the Raiders’ best wideout, but Caste System protocol of course forbids such outside the box thinking. Better to pay tens of millions of dollars to Rhodes Scholar candidates like Javon Walker.
Three whites start on the offensive line — Cooper Carlisle at RG; Jake Grove, a second round draft pick out of Virginia Tech in ’04, is the starting center; and Robert Gallery, the second overall pick in ’04, holds down LG.
Converted defensive end Fred Wakefield, John Wade, James Marten, Chris Morris and Seth Wand are backup linemen.
Luke Lawton was recently picked up as a backup backfield battering ram (FB).
What about Justin Fargas? Well, silly, if he was white he wouldn’t have been Oakland’s main runner last season, would he have? The one drop rule applies when it comes to football’s racially taboo positions like tailback. Just a tiny amount of African ancestry on his father’s side gave Fargas wonderful speed and magical hips. Without that trickle of black blood Fargas would be a lumbering overachiever with a non-stop motor who would make a fine fullback.
A very rare success story is Ricky Brown, who has risen from an undrafted free agent who was on the Raiders’ practice squad to starting in ’08 at one of the outside linebacker spots.
’08 sixth round draft pick Trevor Scott out of the University of Buffalo made the team as a backup end. He and Brown are the only two white defensive players.
NUMBER OF WHITE STARTERS: 5
APPROXIMATE NUMBER OF WHITE PLAYERS ON 53 MAN ROSTER: 17