Today is a glorious day to be a Raiders fan. The ghosts of ineptitude and underachievement have been exorcised from Oakland. Two former first round draft picks, both of whom have strong cases to go down as the worst busts in recent NFL Draft history, are no longer with the team and/or no longer have homes in the area.
Robert Gallery, the Raiders first round pick in 2004 and the second pick overall, was selected to become the cornerstone of a rebuilt offensive line but in the past seven seasons fell way short of expectations. He ended his Raiders career as a serviceable guard, but serviceable is nothing compared to the All-Pro he was supposed to be. When you think of serviceable you think of someone like journeyman Richie Incognito, who elevated his play to the point where his propensity to draw penalty flags becomes unnoticed.
Gallery, who in all likelihood deserves a contract similar to Incognito’s, had the audacity to ask for $8 million a year to remain with the team. The Raiders rewarded Gallery with the front door, as they should have. Owner Al Davis can’t afford to overpay so many underachieving players like he used to. The Raiders are a winning team, and signing free agent players to a Bay Area Premium is no longer necessary.
Gallery still has his NFL career, but there’s no way he’ll get anything near $8 million a year to play guard at below a Pro Bowl level.
In unrelated news, TMZ reported that the Bay Area home of former quarterback JaMarcus Russell is in foreclosure proceedings. The first overall draft pick in 2007 was shown the door last spring by Davis after fleecing the Raiders out of approximately $32 million in guaranteed money, but where did it all go? His jeweler? Las Vegas? Friends and family? Purple drank? All of the above? It really doesn’t matter where the money went but the fact is Russell owes nearly $200,000 in past due mortgage payments, or roughly what he could get if he sold his diamonds to a pawn shop.
If I were Russell I’d start working out so he could resume his football career to make more money, even if the only football we’ll see this fall could be the Canadian Football League. I hear the Winnipeg Blue Bombers could use a starting quarterback.
Do I sound bitter? Of course. Seven years of losing seasons will do that to a Raiders fan, but today I’m feeling fabulous because two players who are examples of what’s wrong with the NFL and it’s current labor negotiations got what they deserved in the end.