It's not easy to run a professional sports franchise, and the Oakland Raiders' situation is a prime example of that. Let's forget about Al Davis, the coaching carousel, and the team's disastrous collective performance of the past few years (being kind), and just focus on their quarterback situation heading into the season.
One discussion, one decision...grand implications. The repercussions? We're talking about making or breaking a season. Well, a regular season. I wouldn't quite throw around the prefix "post" at this point in time.
Anyway, there's the incumbent...JaMarcus Russell. The former No. 1 overall selection has always showcased considerable arm strength, but accuracy and football IQ have proven to be his greatest weaknesses. The natural ability is there, but the well-rounded game may never fully evolve. It may not even evolve past the 50 percent mark.
And then they brought in Jeff Garcia, who has since returned to the Philadelphia Eagles in a back-up capacity. But at the time a decision was to be made in Oakland, Garcia was still very much in the picture. Herein lies the conundrum:
Play the man that the organization committeed to long-term when they drafted him No. 1 overall, or play the safer, more experienced, better quarterback?
Before the owner, front office, and coaching staff could make that specific decision, they had to address the answer to one humbling question:
Regardless of which quarterback we choose, is there any way this team could make a run at the Super Bowl? How about the division title? Playoffs as a Wild Card?
Obviously, by choosing Russell and quickly parting with Garcia, the projected answer to that question is simple..."No." The Raiders' brass definitely didn't think they had a chance to do any serious damage in the 2009-2010 NFL season because if they did, they would have gone with Garcia.
There are starters like Garcia dispersed throughout the league -- Chad Pennington, Shaun Hill, and Trent Edwards to name a few -- and they're "ball control" quarterbacks. These guys are signal callers who are looking to avoid turnovers, make the safe and easy plays, and keep their team in a position to win each and every game. Of course, this only works if you have a defense that can hold up its end of the bargain.
The funny thing is, the Raiders do have that kind of defense. They have one of the premier cornerbacks in the NFL in Nnamdi Asomugha, and they boast an exceptional linebacking tandem in Kirk Morrison and Thomas Howard. There's notable talent at other defensive positions as well.
And yet, the Raiders' brass didn't appear to buy into the parity aspect of today's NFL. If you can play above-average defense, control the ball, and avoid turnovers, you can compete with anyone in professional football. There's no doubt that the Raiders would have been much more competitive in '09-10 with Jeff Garcia under center.
But hey, you make a boneheaded pick, then I guess you have to back it up. Even a few years later...when very little his changed.
("JFro," aka John Frascella, is the author of "Theo-logy: How a Boy Wonder Led the Red Sox to the Promised Land."
It's the first full-length book centered on Boston Red Sox's popular
general manager Theo Epstein. Preview or purchase it online at Amazon.com, Barnes
and Noble or Borders. It's currently stocked in Barnes and Noble stores
throughout the U.S. Also, check out John on Twitter.)