Posted by NFL Editor and ANG football writer Jerry McDonald
A cynic would suggest Marques Tuiasosopo doesnt stand a chance of making the most of his chance as quarterback of the Oakland Raiders and making it his own. Hes just way too nice of a guy, and you remember what Leo Durocher used to say about where nice guys finish.
The Raiders, of course, are already in last. So what could it hurt?
No one who covers a college or professional sports team – at least no one Ive ever met in 20-plus years – has a serious rooting interest in the teams they cover. Sure, youd like your team to win if it gives you a chance to cover a Super Bowl in a pleasant locale. And more often than not its better if your team wins because it makes your job easier in terms of player and organizational access.
You get e-mails all the time from fans who insist youre a “Raider Hater, when in reality the coverage is a reflection of the record. Lets face it, there arent a lot of positive stories that go along with 13-31 since 2002. And writing stories about the players getting cut and coaches getting fired is no fun. Coaching searches, a way of life every few years under Al Davis, are miserable and stressful for everyone involved, including the media.
But while you dont root for a team because it clouds the judgement, youd be less than human if you didnt occasionally pull for people. Tuiasosopo is one of those people.
Hes been nothing but a gracious, friendly, honest and classy guy from the moment he arrived. The same could be said for Kerry Collins, whose handling of his demotion was what weve come to expect from a recovering alcoholic who meets things head on and never loses his perspective or dignity.
But Collins simply wasnt working out, and getting a look at Tuiasosopo is absolutely the right thing to do.
Frankly, though, I have my doubts, and it has nothing to do with Tuiasosopos poor play in the preseason. Preseason football means next to nothing. Never has, never will.
Can a guy who has sat for this long play with any sort of crispness and continuity? Can a player who did his best in college after making mistakes and falling behind suddenly become cool and efficient when hes always excelled when he acts as if his hair is on fire? Does he pass the ball well enough to be a 60 percent passer and keep the chains moving?
If he can do all these things, hes too good to be true.
While theyd never admit it, the Raiders braintrust would be surprised as well. Otherwise, Tuiasosopo never would have been temporarily demoted to No. 3 when Collins was signed to take over for Rich Gannon. So the odds are against Tuiasosopo developing into anything extraordinary.
Theyll tell you in the Great Northwest that Tuiasosopo used to beat the odds routinely at the University of Washington. For the sake of seeing something interesting over the last four weeks of the season, as well as a just reward for someone who appears to deserve it, heres hoping it happens again.