We don’t hear from Raiders owner Al Davis very often, which is a shame because his comments are usually sharper and more educational than people give him credit for.
Davis was at this week’s ownershio meetings, though, and he ran into Jarrett Bell of USA Today at a hotel elevator. Asked how Davis was doing, the Raiders owner said, “My team’s not doing well,” Davis said, “so I’m not doing well.”
The topic quickly turned to JaMarcus Russell, and Davis’ message was patience. He pointed to historical examples of quarterbacks struggling early in their career: Troy Aikman’s rookie year, John Elway’s rocky start, Terry Bradshaw’s benching, Doug Williams, Warren Moon, Kenny Stabler, and Jim Plunkett.
The point is well taken, but none of them ever completed fewer than 45 percent of their passes or had a quarterback rating under 50. Davis is reportedly frustrated and embarrassed by all the criticism his team is taking, but he wants to stay the course with Russell. For now.
“JaMarcus, he’s got to do better,” Davis said. “Forget the cast around
him. He knows it. But we’ve got to fight through it with him.”
Russell, meanwhile, is hoping Raider fans will be more understanding than they were in Oakland’s last home game, when they showered Russell with boos. Good luck with that.
“By being fans, you wish they could be more supportive,” Russell
said. “We’re already down in the dumps and that doesn’t make it any
better. The best thing for that is just have them come together with
us. Who knows? I really don’t.
“It was crazy for me. I had never really been in that situation
before you just have to pull out of it. A lot of people are fed up over
the course of a year but the only thing we can do this week is make
some plays and hopefully it will go the other way.”
Philadelphia’s defense makes it unlikely that things will go the other way this week.
Davis may have patience with Russell, but expecting it from the fans — and Russell’s teammates — is another matter.