D'ADAMO: Gannon never fully appreciated by fans

The inevitable has not taken place yet now that June 1 has come and gone but one has to think it's only a matter of time before Rich Gannon is no longer an Oakland Raider. The question is will be via the release or retirement? It was clearly the right thing to do but the truth of the matter is that, for all of his success, Raider fans never fully appreciated Gannon.

Those who have followed the Raiders view Ken Stabler, Jim Plunkett and Darryl Lamonica as people of legend. Gannon, however, should be recognized in much the same category. Granted, Gannon and the Oakland Raiders fell short in their bid for a Super Bowl championship but the fact remains that Gannon's arrival in 1999 helped change the franchise.

The Raiders deserve praise because they acquired Kerry Collins as a free agent last season. There's no doubt that Collins is a better fit for the Raiders current offense of emphasizing the vertical passing attack.

Gannon's personality could be abrasive but he also arrived in Oakland one year after head coach Jon Gruden. Both individuals brought a no-nonsense attitude to an organization that reeked of arrogance for no reason. Gannon's rasping personality might have been a bit much for some people but it also brought a work ethic as it pertained to preparation that the franchise had not seen in years. Keep in mind, the terms "accountability" and "discipline" might as well be four-letter words in Oakland Raider vernacular.

Gruden's four-year stint in Oakland has been the single most important move the franchise made in recent memory followed very closely by Gannon's free agent signing one year later from division rival Kansas City. However, it also bears repeating that after the Raiders ostensibly traded Gruden to Tampa Bay most people predicted that Oakland would suffer a setback. Yes, Gruden's Buccaneers laid giant 48-21 tail-whipping on the Raiders in the Super Bowl but it was Gannon's leadership that allowed the Raiders to get there.

The 40-year old Gannon's skills were bound to decline at some point but it bears repeating that the Raiders have been home for the playoffs the last two seasons. That reason can be attributed to some degree to Gannon finishing the last two seasons on injured reserve (torn labrum in 2003 and broken neck in 2004).

So Gannon's arm strength won't rival the Darryl Lamonicas of the world. Unfortunately, he came up short in his only Super Bowl appearance unlike Ken Stabler and Jim Plunkett. Gannon's arrival, however, brought an end to a revolving door at quarterback for the franchise. Does Jay Schroeder ring a bell? While we're at it, how about Vince Evans? Jeff George? Marc Wilson? Rusty Hilger?

Well, you get the idea. This makes all the more perplexing why Raider fans, in some circles, have never fully embraced and appreciated Gannon.

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

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