New Number, New Porter?
|Will the real Jerry|
Porter please stand up
On Wednesday, Porter released a statement through the Raiders, re-engaging himself as part of the Raider Nation, albeit in the form of a number change from 84 to 81.
"For me the new number represents a new start, a new beginning and new attitude," he said in a statement released by the team. "I've had multiple meetings with coach Kiffin and I am very excited about the direction of our team and especially our offense. I can't wait to get started."
It’s too bad something as simple as a number change can’t wipe away all past transgressions.
For the record, I used to be a big Jerry Porter fan. Granted, I don’t know what happened behind closed doors, but I do know that Porter demanded a trade last season. I do know that Porter was in the middle of a feud that divided the Raiders last season, and for that I have issues with Jerry Porter.
To frame my issue, you have to take a step back to the 2001 season. That was the year the Raiders signed Jerry Rice. Porter was entering his second season with Oakland, and was the heir apparent to Tim Brown as the Raiders #1 receiver.
Only a second year receiver, Porter had a lot to learn about life in the NFL. He was smart enough to recognize that he had the two greatest receivers in NFL history as mentors in Rice and Brown. He was smart enough to watch, listen and learn over the course of the next three seasons.
Jerry Porter, for all intent purposes, was not a problem child. By 2003 Brown was gone. Less than a year later, Rice would be put to pasture. Porter was finally the man.
Fast forward to the winter of 2005 and the Raiders acquire Randy Moss. Still, Porter plays the loyal Raider and accepts his role as Moss’ second. He’s not Moss’ understudy, but he’s also not the Raiders number one receiver.
Certainly, not a great position to be in if you’re Porter, but he handled it as a professional.
That is, until 2006. Enter Shell, and the wheels fall off.
My issue with Jerry Porter and the great implosion of 2006 is that we all know he can be a team guy. He’s proven it. So why all the grief last season? Did he throw in the towel, knowing that the Raiders were destined to lay an egg in 2006? Did Jerry Porter force Art Shell’s hand in an attempt to bail on the situation?
Raider lifers don’t behave that way. Raider lifers don’t ask for trades. That’s what makes them Raider lifers. Nothing is bigger than the team. The sum of all parts is more important than one piece. That applies to Jerry Porter more than anyone, because he led us all to believe that he was a lifer.
Now he wants back in. What worries me more than anything is what convinced him to change his tune. What are the Raiders promising him? Asking for a trade is not something that many former Raiders have lived to tell about (at least as Raiders).
Marcus Allen, Ken Stabler, Dave Casper. They were all Raider greats. But when they forced Al Davis’ hand, the trigger was pulled. Those guys were jettisoned. So why not Porter?
I think Porter is an incredible talent. If I line up Porter today versus, say a Randy Moss, I’d take Porter over Moss for pure upside. In the right mindset, Porter is a better investment. But the question over his change of heart will always be something that tests the trust factor.
Is he in or is he out? If things go south in terms of wins & losses, is Jerry Porter going to be a guy that motivates his teammates to be better, or does he jump ship ala Moss? The Raiders already have a major headache in Moss. If Porter suddenly decides he doesn’t want to be a Raider, kiss the next two to three seasons goodbye. Add any Porter distractions to the Moss rifts and the damage will be catastrophic. Those two would do more damage than anything the Raiders have seen before.
Here’s hoping we see Porter return to his 2004-05 form and helps turn the Raiders around, rather than further divide a team in dire need of unification.