Darren McFadden Prepares for Potential Raiders Finale


Dec 21, 2014; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders running back Darren McFadden (20) runs the ball against the Buffalo Bills in the fourth quarter at O.co Coliseum. The Raiders defeated the Bills 26-24. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Like him or not, running back Darren McFadden has always been an Oakland Raider since becoming a first round selection after a stellar collegiate career as an Arkansas Razorback. Often hurt and failing to live up to the expectations being a first round running back handed him, McFadden has often been criticized despite being a team player who always gave back to the fans in the community. Something that makes his potential final game with the team on Sunday afternoon against the Denver Broncos a special game for the running back.

McFadden, who signed a short deal with the Raiders as a free agent last summer, has been healthy all year and has played in all 16 games and could be given a chance to resign with the team come the offseason. However with the potential of a new head coach and a new general manager there is also a chance that the team could plan on bringing younger talents to surround emerging Latavius Murray, which makes Week 17 a potential goodbye for the veteran rusher.

At his best McFadden has been one of the Raiders most dynamic offensive players during his time in Oakland. Particularly in the first 8-8 season in which the team fell short of the playoffs where McFadden carried the Raiders offense with 1,157 rushing yards and 507 more receiving for a year where he had 10 touchdowns at his peak with the franchise. The next year a healthy McFadden could have been the difference as injury issues crept in to prevent the running back from building on the best year of his career as the team yet again finished 8-8 to miss the playoffs for a second straight year.

Since those 8-8 seasons McFadden has never recovered to his 2010 form, that season likely to mark the peak of a player who at one point was pegged as a future star at the running back position. While McFadden at times showed glimpses of that potential at Arkansas with some dominant performances, it was never consistent enough to please Raiders fans who were hoping for an Adrian Peterson type of player when Al Davis drafted McFadden in 2008.

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Injuries were always McFadden’s issue rather than talent, which makes it ironic that heading into Sunday his potential last year with the Raiders will be the only time in his career where he will have played in all 16 games. For the sake of keeping a veteran who loves the team and will accept a limited role, the Raiders should bring McFadden back as a third down back or a backup role for 2015, but if it is his last game there should be more respect than hate given to a player who tried his best for the team even if his body failed him when his heart wanted far more.

Perhaps the end result wasn’t close to what was expected, but if Sunday is Darren McFadden’s final game as a Raider, it has at the very least been one hell of a ride following the former first round pick and his attempt to live up to high expectations he never could quite reach.