Mirer appreciates opportunity

"Things change so fast. I don't want to get ahead of myself. I've bounced around enough it seems like. Two years in the same place is the second longest I've been anywhere. So I kind of feel like I know my way around and stuff. Starting over isn't that exciting a thing to think about right now." -- Raiders QB Rick Mirer

Regardless of the situation, Oakland Raiders quarterback Rick Mirer has appreciated his opportunity in the 2003 season – even if it has been a dismal one for his team.

Oakland (4-11) finishes its season with a road game against the equally dreadful San Diego Chargers (3-12) Sunday. Within a matter of two weeks in late October and early November, the Raiders lost starter Rich Gannon (shoulder) and backup Marques Tuiasosopo (knee) to season-ending injury.

Then came Mirer's chance to shake off the rust. As one might expect from a No. 3 quarterback, Mirer has had some good moments and some no-so-good ones. When a ballclub is struggling through a 4-11 season, however, life can be difficult for any player.

Mirer has thrown for 1,246 passing yards in seven starts and eight appearances, three touchdowns, five interceptions and a quarterback rating of 66.1. Mirer's last extensive action as a starter came in 1999 as a member of the New York Jets. Mirer played in eight games that year, six in a starting role. He threw for 1,062 yards, five touchdowns and nine interceptions with a rating of 60.4. His last appearance came in a 2000 relief outing as a San Francisco 49er as Jeff Garcia's backup.

"All you can ask for is a chance to play," Mirer said. "You can't get picky about when those chances come. It's been a tough go and a tough year for everyone here. I'm happy I've had the chance. There's been ups and downs."

Mirer was the No. 2 overall pick in the 1993 draft by the Seattle Seahawks and earned NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year honors. Mirer, however, was unable to parlay that success into an annually consistent performance.

While he has not been a bust of, say, Ryan Leaf proportions, Mirer's career was not what most people envisioned. Mirer has been a journeyman. He spent four seasons in Seattle, followed by one each in Chicago (1997), Green Bay (1998), New York Jets (1999), two in San Francisco (2000-2001) and the last two in Oakland (2002).

The question then becomes, would the 33-year old Mirer be receptive to potentially returning to Oakland as a No. 3 quarterback. One thing is for certain; Mirer has played well enough to warrant a return to Oakland. The 38-year old Gannon faces an uncertain future as a Raider. He might be too expensive for Oakland to keep coupled with whether or not he can heal sufficiently from his torn labrum.

Tuiasosopo, 24, has been deemed the quarterback of the future since the Raiders drafted him in the second round in 2001. While Tuiasosopo showed that he has potential, he did not play extensively enough to draw that conclusion. Therefore, enter Mirer if for no other reason than as a safety net. Mirer is also not eager to start over with another club.

"Things change so fast," Mirer said. "I don't want to get ahead of myself. I've bounced around enough it seems like. Two years in the same place is the second longest I've been anywhere. So I kind of feel like I know my way around and stuff. Starting over isn't that exciting a thing to think about right now."

Vince D'Adamo can be reached at vdad7@yahoo.com


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