Raiders fans should be feeling zippier than an extra helping of garlic salt this week, with Gilroy native Jeff Garcia added to the roster as backup quarterback. What a great story! We love to see the local guys come home, and we love to see our teams sign the players who have exceptionally-attractive, hot model wives. And most importantly, should JaMarcus Russell miss a game or two, the Raiders are no longer be stuck with the hopeless likes of Andrew Walter and Josh McCown.
But here's the thing about bringing Jeff Garcia in as your backup quarterback -- he tends to win the starting job. And then he tends to keep it. Just ask Steve Young. Then ask Joey Harrington, Donovan McNabb and Brian Griese. This little Canadian football guy, who's well into his 30s and should be just holding a clipboard, has a long history of swiping the starting QB position from his better-paid and higher-profile teammates.
Which brings us to starting QB JaMarcus Russell, who is now Garcia's better-paid and higher-profile teammate. We're all aware that he has yet to live up to his hype as the #1 overall selection in the 2007 Draft. Russell has won five games in two full seasons, and that just is what it is.
Garcia, so far, is saying all the right things that a backup is supposed to say. The day he signed, he told NBCBayArea.com, "I realize that JaMarcus right now is the anointed starter. I’m going to support him and help him any way that I can ... It’s one of those things where I’m going to be very supportive of him."
But Garcia doesn't have it in his DNA to be content as a backup. He may really think he's in Oakland just in a supporting capacity, he may really think this is a "latter part of career" move, and he may really think he's just finishing out his career in his native Bay Area. But once that guy straps on the shoulder pads and the competitive hitting starts, Garcia becomes a single-minded scrappy fighter.
Have you ever felt that way about JaMarcus Russell?
Raiders coach Tom Cable must know this, and it speaks highly of Cable that he'd bring in a guy who will light a competive fire beneath JaMarcus Russell. You just wouldn't sign Jeff Garcia without knowing his history of supplanting the top guy. If a winning season also means a nasty quarterback controversy, Cable will do the right thing and choose the winning season.
When the leaves start falling and the games begin to count, "supporting" will become second priority to Jeff Garcia behind "winning." Especially if the opposing team released Garcia earlier in his career -- and yes, as a matter of fact, the Raiders do play the Browns and Eagles this coming season.
Joe Kukura is a freelance writer who has not missed a Gilroy Garlic Festival since 2002.