Although never fully appreciated by the Oakland Raiders fan base, Gannon brought something the Raiders lacked in quarterbacks for years - stability and leadership.
Gannon, however, will not be totally removed from the
game of football as he is set to join the CBS TV
broadcasting team. Gannon announced his retirement at
a press conference at the Oakland Raiders training
camp facility in Napa, CA Saturday. Raiders head coach
Norv Turner and owner Al Davis flanked Gannon at the
podium. In addition, several current players and
organization members were on hand.
Gannon had finished the last two seasons on injured
reserve (torn labrum in 2003 and broken neck in 2004).
"The decision (to retire) was an easy one," Gannon
said. "It was not really my decision so it takes the
guesswork out of it."
Gannon, who signed with the Raiders as a free agent in
1999, led the team to three consecutive AFC Western
Division titles from 2000-02 and compiled a 45-29
regular season record as a starter from 1999-2004. He
started in 71 consecutive regular season games from
1999-2003, a Raiders record for quarterbacks.
Gannon compiled 28,743 passing yards and 180
touchdowns in his career that spanned 18 seasons with
stops in Minnesota, Washington, Kansas City and
Oakland. Interestingly enough, scouts felt that Gannon
would make a better defensive back in the NFL because
of his foot speed. Gannon, however, wanted none of the
The 2002 season was the biggest shinning moment for
Gannon on the way to winning NFL MVP honors. Gannon
led the Raiders to the Super Bowl that season by
passing for 4,689 yards and 26 touchdowns while
completing more than 67 percent of his passes.
"I enjoyed all the teams I played on," Gannon said. "I
always thought I was good enough as a player but I
just needed to be in the right situation. I needed
someone who would stick their neck out for me and live
with my mistakes."
The Raiders became that team.
"He gave us something that we needed," Davis said. "He
gave us a work ethic. The important thing was that he
wore our famed colors with pride, poise and class. His
will to win was an inspiration to everyone on the
Even beyond the numbers, Gannon's arrival brought an
end to a revolving door at quarterback for the
franchise. The Raiders tried their hands with the
likes of Jay Schroeder, Vince Evans, Jeff George, Marc
Wilson and Rusty Hilger.
Even though he only coached Gannon for three games
because of the career-ending injury, Turner became
quickly aware of Gannon's influence.
"Everyone talks about what could have been," Turner
said. "What I have regret for is from a personal
standpoint. The personal experience of being involved
with someone of his work ethic was something I missed
Those who have followed the Raiders often long for the
days of Ken Stabler, Jim Plunkett and Darryl Lamonica.
Gannon and former Raiders head coach Jon Gruden
brought a no-nonsense work ethic to an organization
that reeked of arrogance for no reason.
Gannon's personality might have been a too abrasive
for some people but also established a work ethic that
pertained to preparation that the franchise had not
seen in years. In fact, Gannon and Gruden -- two Type
A personalities -- were so much alike that they often
clashed but respected each other.
"We had a unique relationship," Gannon said. "We both
had similar traits. It's a heated game at times but we
knew we were both trying to win."
Gruden's four-year stint in Oakland (1998-2001) 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
Gannon added that he will be able to live a normal
life despite the neck injury. As for Gannon's
professional future, he has not entirely made up his
made but broadcasting will be his next job. One
reporter jokingly asked Gannon how he would respond if
a quarterback falters in a game he's broadcasting.
"Hopefully with etiquette and integrity but I've also
got to be honest," Gannon said. "It's going to be a
transition for me but when you get older you have to
learn to control your feelings."
There is a possibility that Gannon could join the
Raiders organization in some capacity but coaching
will not be one of them despite the fact that some
people believe that role would be a perfect fit for
"I have as much admiration as anybody for coaches,"
Gannon said. "I'm not ready to make that commitment.
Every coach I ever played for, I respected them for
the time they put in."
Vince D'Adamo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Rich Gannon retires
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