By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Friday, October 2nd, 2009 at 5:46 pm in Oakland Raiders.
Jeff Garcia explained himself on the syndicated Fox Sports radio show hosted by Chris Myers and Steve Hartman, and while a lot of the problems he identifed with the Raiders have been said elsewhere, it’s not like he came into camp like a force of nature only to be ignored and pushed aside.
Here’s a transcript of what Garcia said.
And here’s what I think about what Garcia said and his brief time with the Raiders.
Garcia never bought in. He looked like he had a case of contract remorse moments after he signed it.
So when Garcia says some of his teammates looked as if they were simply collecting a check, he could count himself in that group because he was never on board.
It seemed strange from the outset that Garcia’s locker was nowhere near Russell’s in Alameda. He was in another area near Darren McFadden and Oren O’Neal, while Russell was out of reach of conversation near Bruce Gradkowski and Charlie Frye.
When the Raiders got to Napa, Garcia did all the requisite interviews about being a competitor but willing to “help out a young guy” and then promptly had a calf injury. It was similar to a calf injury he had the previous year in Tampa Bay, when coincidentally, the Bucs were courting Brett Favre. Not long after the Favre issue was resolved, Garcia was back on the field and helping Tampa win games.
While Garcia was unable to practice, he was still fine to join the quarterbacks during sessions off to the side where quarterbacks coach Paul Hackett went over the finer points of the position. It was at that time where Garcia could bring the level of focus to a new level, challenge Russell along with Hackett, and attempt to push him to greater heights.
It wasn’t possible, because Garcia was seldom there. Hackett would be with Gradkowski and Frye, and Garcia would be elsewhere, and it wasn’t rehabbing because he did most of at different times.
When Garcia walked to and from practice, he looked like a 12-year-old whose dog had run away. When Garcia didn’t return with the team following the Dallas preseason game for “personal issues” I thought he was really considering his future in Oakland. Both Garcia and Cable denied it.
Garcia was out with the calf injury so long he got in only one brief series in the third preseason game and a little more time in the fourth. And it’s not like when he played that Garcia was lighting it up. In fact, Russell had a surge in his play toward the end of camp and looked like he was starting to get it.
When the two quarterbacks were on the field at the same time in Tampa Bay the previous year, it was Russell who walked off the field with the win and Garcia who threw a huge late interception and was sacked on the final play by Greyson Gunheim.
Without being overly harsh, Garcia questioned Russell’s work ethic during the radio interview and didn’t think it was fair to have so much put on his shoulders. That Russell wasn’t ready physically or mentally.
Garcia didn’t say he was told directly he would never be the starter, but it’s clear he assumed his chances of playing were zero. He felt Russell would at least be good enough to keep him on the bench.
I think Garcia is starting to have the same regrets about getting out of his contract as he did when when he signed it.
As much as Garcia thought Russell might not be ready, he couldn’t have foreseen it would be this bad through three games. Had Garcia stuck around, the outside pressure to play him would be overwhelming. Cable, whether you want to believe it or not, has gained a pretty good reputation within the building of lobbying Davis. And as much as Davis would hate seeing his future quarterback have to take a seat, the outside scrutiny on his poor play would have turned up the pressure.
If you don’t think Davis pays attention to what’s said, then look no further than Rich Gannon or the way local columnists are called to the carpet on any issue critical of the owner.
Garcia may have had a chance to play, after all.
He bailed out too soon.