Jeff Garcia signed a one-year contract with the Raiders in the offseason but left the team at the end of training camp after asking for his release. At the time it was a bit of mystery as to why Garcia left, though there was plenty of speculation.
Most of the rumors centered around Garcia allegedly being unhappy in his role as a backup to quarterback JaMarcus Russell, though Garcia himself chose to stay quiet on the subject.
After being released by the Philadelphia Eagles earlier this week _ the team Garcia signed with after getting let go by Oakland _ the veteran quarterback went on Sirius Radio and spoke about Russell and his decision to ask the Raiders for his release.
First, Garcia said he had no issues mentoring Russell but said the team has put too much pressure on the young QB's shoulders.
"I have no problem going into a situation and helping a young guy out and really trying to help the team out overall moreso than anything," Garcia sai. "I just feel like it's an unfortunate situation when the entire work ethic and the entire goal of the team is really put upon one guy's shoulder who really isn't maybe ready for that situation or ready to take on that sort of responsibility.
"And I'm not saying JaMarcus can never be that guy. It's just right now he's still young. He has a lot of growth that needs to take place within himself from a mental standpoint and a physical standpoint. Yeah, the guy's extremely talented…When you put him on the field in a one-on-one workout session he'll make every throw for you, but when it comes down to making things happen in the heat of the battle and rallying the troops around you and making a case for the team, that's where maybe things aren't where they need to be.
"Right now that team is going through those growing pains. And I think I could have helped in a lot of ways had I still been there and had I had that opportunity to step on the field and lead the team and really show what it takes from a standpoint of leadership and work ethic and knowledge of the game. But the way things were working out and with the contract that I had signed, I didn't feel like it was the right situation for me to be there anymore."
Russell has struggled through Oakland's first three games and was heavily booed during the Raiders last home game.
There have been calls for head coach Tom Cable to make a change and go with one of the team's other quarterbacks, Bruce Gradkowski and Charlie Frye, but Cable has maintained his support of Russell.
Garcia echoed his own support of Russell but questioned some of the other players on Oakland's roster, some of whom have gone under the radar while Russell has continually been blasted by the critics.
"It was to a point where I felt like guys who walked through those doors that just were there to collect a check and not really interested in putting everything that they had within themselves on to the football field, and that was the frustrating thing for me to see," Garcia said. "There were a lot of good young guys in that locker room who really want to do whatever it takes to win, but unfortunately it's not everybody. In order to compete at this level in this game, everybody needs to be on board, everybody needs to be on the same page, everybody needs to really be accountable and be able to look at each other and have responsibility within themselves that they're going to bring the best that they can have to bring. Not just on Sunday, but every single day during the work week and when you're not seeing that and maybe it's because how things have been for a number of years now out there and they just don't see the hope.
"I was the guy who was trying to bring in a fresh outlook and a fresh new start. I was trying to really be that type of guy that could help motivate my teammates and help create a certain attitude, a certain mentality and it was just tough to break through to everybody and that's where I found it to be more discouraging than encouraging. And for me at this point of my career, being 39 years old, as much as it meant so much to me to return back home and be close to the family and friends and play for a team that I grew up watching as a kid … to see the reality of the situation and realize what I may be up against staying here for the entire year, it hurt me. It broke my heart to do that to step up, but I just felt like it was something I really didn't want to put myself through anymore."
While this certainly means Garcia won't be wearing a Raiders uniform anytime soon, it does shed light on what is going on in Oakland.
In the past, former players like LaMont Jordan, Warren Sapp, Rich Gannon and others have been highly critical of the way things are with the Raiders but many people tried to write the criticisms off as coming from disgruntled ex-players with an axe to grind. In the case of Gannon, the Raiders took it a step further and tried to have him banned from coming to the team's Alameda facilities as part of his job as a NFL analyst.
With Garcia, though, there was no axe to grind. He wasn't seeking a new contract or more money. He knew ahead of time Russell was going to be the starter, but he saw the situation in Oakland for what it was and opted to get out of town.
And while his comments about Russell are interesting to say the least, what he said about other players on the team is troubling.
Cable has spoken publicly about his pride in ridding the Raiders of malcontents and troublemakers, and told S&BI exclusively that he had done just that since taking over.
Yet if Garcia is to be believed, then there are even more players who need to go. The longer they're allowed to linger around the more likely it is they'll have bigger, negative influence on Oakland's younger players.
Garcia's comments reveal more issues at hand
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