The NFL is full of quarterbacks who have resurrected their career after getting a second chance.
Do names like Brad Johnson of Tampa Bay, Kansas City's Trent Green, Pittsburgh's Tommy Maddox, Cincinnati's Jon Kitna and the New York Giants' Kerry Collins ring a bell? Could one possibly add the Oakland Raiders No. 3 quarterback Rick Mirer to the list?
Three straight successful starts might not be enough to say that Mirer's success will continue but the journeyman has maximized his latest opportunity. Mirer's next time to opportunity is Sunday at home against the Denver Broncos. Mirer has taken the reigns of the Raiders offense after 2002 NFL MVP Rich Gannon and No. 2 man Marques Tuiasosopo were placed on injured reserve with season-ending injuries.
Mirer replaced the injured Tuiasosopo in a 23-13 loss to the Detroit Lions on Nov. 2. Predictably, Mirer struggled at times in his first significant action since 2000 as a member of the San Francisco 49ers in a relief appearance of Jeff Garcia. Mirer completed 15-of-28 passes for 125 yards and two inceptions. Mirer, however, has been much more efficient the last three games in completing 46-of-69 passes for 600 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions.
"It's not the first time an older guy's come in and done OK," Mirer said. "You never know when it's going to be your turn. And hopefully you get a turn. If it leads to other things, more years, we'll deal with that when it's appropriate."
Mirer's performance has earned the praise of his teammates.
"Rick carries confidence with him wherever he goes," Oakland wide receiver Jerry Porter said.
Since signing with the Raiders as a free agent before the 2002 season, Mirer had been nothing more than an insurance policy. In addition, the perception has been that Tuiasosopo is Gannon's heir apparent.
Gannon, who is slated for a base salary of $7 million, is 38-years old and faces an uncertain future in Oakland. He recently underwent surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right throwing shoulder and faces a lengthy rehabilitation process. Tuiasosopo still is recovering from a torn medial collateral ligament in his left knee and remains an unproven player.
The 33-year old Mirer has been mostly a disappointment since the Seattle Seahawks spent a first-round draft choice on him. Mirer was the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year in 1993 but has since played for five other teams including Oakland.
The Raiders, however, would be best served to keep Mirer after the season because of Gannon's cloudy future. In addition, Tuiasosopo has been labeled as Gannon's successor but has not played enough to draw that conclusion. Mirer is an unrestricted free agent after the season but is making only $755,000 right now.
"I'm glad I stuck with it through those hard times," Mirer said. "I'm not really concerned with anything after Christmas. I'm still a new guy trying to pick up the slack."
Vince D'Adamo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org