It's been frustrating over the past few years that whenever any scofflaw, malcontent, or jailbird player in the NFL comes available, football pundits and analysts immediately and automatically proclaim that guy will end up with the Raiders.
It's been even more frustrating that they're usually right.
But this off-season, so far, has been different. The only notable new free agents the Raiders have brought onto their roster are QB Jeff Garcia and OT Khalif Barnes. Both of them seem like pretty solid citizens. If either of those guys has ever shot anyone while arranging pit bull fights at a strip club, I'm not aware of it.
Okay, so Khalif Barnes was charged with a DUI in 2006. I bring this up not to question his behavior or role model ethic, but just as an excuse to link to the very funny YouTube footage of his arrest. It actually makes me respect Barnes more, because he says to the arresting officer, "White cops are cool... except for you!"
But while sports journalists and bloggers have been quick to declare that this off-season's headache-inducing superstars like Plaxico Burress and Chad "Ochocinco" Johnson would end up wearing silver and black, this hasn't happened. One site, BleacherReport.com, actually went and reported late last week that the Raiders had in fact traded Michael Bush and a second-round pick to the Bengals for Chad Johnson. The report has since been taken down, but you can tell by looking at the URL that they were sure the Bush-for-Johnson trade really took place.
Chad Johnson himself is openly lobbying for this trade. An alert watcher noted last week in the Contra Costa Times forums that on a recent episode on ESPN's "NFL Live", Johnson signed off on an interview segment by looking at the camera and yelling, "Oakland! Call me!"
But Oakland hasn't called him. The most tangible item on this front was ProFootballTalk.com reporting last week that there was a "belief in league circles" that the Raiders were interested in Johnson. And countless blogs have speculated this deal could happen, but their basis seems more in the Raiders reputation than any actual reporting.
Plaxico Burress, meanwhile, elicits the same reaction -- most notably in a report from ESPN's Bill Williamson. But the Raiders have no idea if or how much time Burress could miss because of gun charges. Plus there is the matter that Burress, you know, had a bullet go through one of his legs recently. That might affect his performance on field.
Thus far, there's just smoke and no fire to all of these Burress and Johnson rumors. But you learn to never say never with the Oakland Raiders. Or if you must say "never", you learn to say, "Never believe the rumor until you've read it was true on about 50 different web sites."
Joe Kukura is a freelance writer who would legally change his name to "Chad Ocho Bullet Wounds" if it could get both Chad Johnson and Plaxico Buress to come and play for the Raiders.