Former Raiders quarterback Rich Gannon has something in common with current Raiders quarterback Bruce Gradkowski.
Both were discarded and forgotten at one point in their careers. And both found success in Oakland.
Of course, Gradkowski has a long way to go before parlaying his silver-and-black redemption into a league MVP award, like Gannon did. But the man who once played for the head coach who honed Gannon’s skills (Jon Gruden) has done enough to get Gannon’s attention, beating the Bengals and Steelers two weeks apart.
“I know how important it is to him,” Gannon tells Nancy Gay of FanHouse.com. “I know how hard he’s worked at it.
I could just see it in his demeanor as I watched him play. You watched
his facial expressions, the way he talked to the players in the
sideline and the huddle — this kid just realizes that this is an
opportunity of a lifetime and he’s going to make the most of it.”
And Gradkowski might be helping his teammates make the most out of their opportunities, too.
“He offers hope, particularly for a team that is starving for
leadership and direction, and that’s what jumps out at
me when I look at Bruce Gradkowski and what he’s done the last three or
four weeks,” Gannon said.
So when the Raiders are trying to figure out what to do in 2010 with JaMarcus Russell, maybe the most viable option will be to keep Gradkowski and force Russell to unseat him.
Then again, that might not matter to Russell.
“He has no passion for the game. Everyone can see that,” an unnamed G.M. told FanHouse.com regarding the first pick in the 2007 draft. “I don’t think he’s getting anything at all out of
seeing Gradkowski succeed, other than nobody is booing him.”
Still, it’s unlikely that owner Al Davis is ready to give Russell a free pass out of Oakland, due to the possibility (however slim it might be) that Russell will discover his passion with a new team, and then make the Raiders look foolish for letting him go.
But if the Raiders choose to keep both, they’ll need to pay Gradkowski. He’s due to be a restricted free agent after the season, and his base salary for 2009 is a paltry $535,000.
In contrast, Russell has a base salary this season of $7.8 million, and he’ll be paid a base salary of $9.45 million in 2010 under the current terms of his deal.
In other words, Russell will be paid more money each week next season than Gradkowski receives for all of the present campaign.