Jeff Garcia has made his return to the Bay Area, this time as an Oakland Raider. A homecoming that has been two years in the making took nearly a month of negotiations to iron out a one-year contract.
Having played in four cities over the last five years, Oakland will likely be the final stop on the Jeff Garcia NFL tour.
So the question begs to be asked: What does the arrival of a 39-year old backup quarterback mean to the 23-year old incumbent starter?
No, JaMarcus Russell is in no real danger of losing his job just because Garcia is in Silver and Black. But that leash did just get a little shorter.
Garcia’s well documented travels have molded him into the ideal mentor for a young JaMarcus. The football career of Jeff Garcia reads like a Kevin Costner sports film. Overshadowed by bigger names at larger schools, Garcia left San Jose State with no fanfare from the two local NFL teams, finding his way to Canada. Eventually he returned home to become a Pro Bowl quarterback with the 49ers before being released and beginning his suitcase odyssey that included four stops in four years before his latest homecoming.
In short, Garcia’s tales will give JaMarcus a very real view of the business of the NFL. Perhaps one of Jeff’s first orders of business will be to take Russell out to a local bar in Alameda to paint a picture of the uncertainty and fickle fanaticism that plagues the QB position in the landscape of pro football.
Russell should not feel threatened by Garica’s arrival, but he should heed the wisdom learned in Garcia’s journeys.
Garcia entered the NFL with none of the expectations that JaMarcus did. Once he assumed the same position as Russell, Garcia learned how hard it is to live up to all those expectations that come with being a starting quarterback in the NFL. Garcia went from Pro Bowl savior of the 49ers to expendable 33-year old backup in a span of just four years.
JaMarcus must learn that nothing is guaranteed in the NFL. As of now, Russell is the franchise QB in Oakland, but that rug can be easily pulled from under him should he regress instead of grow into his role as a leader.
For the first time since Kerry Collins backed Rich Gannon, the Raiders have a veteran thrower ready to enter the game at a moment’s notice. Call Jeff Garcia the best middle reliever in the NFL.
His studies under Andy Reid and Steve Mariucci have prepared Garcia for being an expert at learning complex offenses. By simply clocking in everyday, Garcia will show Russell what it takes to know your offense inside and out.
Never forget that Jeff Garcia played in San Francisco when Bill Walsh was the team’s GM. Garcia knows pressure. Playing QB in the West Coast Offense in front of Walsh is like painting a portrait with Rembrandt peering over your shoulder.
Consider this yet another step taken by Tom Cable and the Raider brass to ensure a quality product by forcing all men on the Raider roster to compete each day. No player gets a free pass and everyone is held accountable by their peers.
Suddenly, each Raider player has one eye in the rearview mirror.
Justin Fargas saw Darren McFadden and Michael Bush pop up on the horizon last season. Mario Henderson played so well at the end ’08 that Cable felt it was only right that Erik Pears and Khalif Barnes should sign up to push the potential franchise left tackle. Aside from Nnamdi Asomugha – who has no equal in the NFL – all Raiders are aware that their jobs are always going to be open to the most qualified candidate.
Competition builds character.
Think of Jeff Garcia as a polygraph for JaMarcus Russell. In 2009, the truth will be revealed one week at a time.
Tags: Andy Reid Bill Walsh Darren McFadden Erik Pears JaMarcus Russell Jeff Garcia Justin Fargas Kerry Collins Kevin Costner Khalif Barnes Mario Henderson Michael Bush Nnamdi Asomugha Rembrandt Rich Gannon Steve Mariucci Tom Cable