The Oakland Raiders have a lot of problems with their roster, from depth to starters it is still a long way from being where it needs to be. But one of the most glaring deficiencies throughout the roster is the lack of a star. So it’s surprising that the Raiders had a player who landed in the top 50 list of merchandise movers in the NFL.
Darren McFadden is No. 33 overall, between 49ers running back Frank Gore and oft-injured Cowboys receiver Miles Austin. “Run DMC” was supposed to be the Raiders’ marquee player when he was drafted fourth overall in 2008, as he possessed a combination of speed and size that made mouths water. But his injury issues started surfacing midway through his rookie year, and they haven’t subsided since. McFadden has never played more than 13 games in a season and only twice has he amassed more than 200 touches. One of those years also happened to be his worst year as a professional, as he struggled to run behind the zone blocking scheme implemented by former offensive coordinator Greg Olson.
Injuries aside, he still has not had many years of high caliber success when he was on the field. In his rookie year he showed sparks of what he could be and finished the season averaging an admirable 4.4 yards per carry. After struggling a bit in his sophomore season, McFadden had two impressive years. His first, in 2010, he put up 1,157 yards and scored 7 touchdowns averaging 5.2 yards per carry. He only played in seven games the following season, but he was impressive in those games, putting up 614 yards and four touchdowns as he averaged 5.4 yards per carry. But aside from those two years, which is a very small sample size, McFadden has not done much of anything to live up to his pre draft billing.
But at the same time, it is not entirely shocking that his merchandise sales are so high. For a fan base that has watched a pathetic team for over a decade, there is very little hope to cling to. No player has either been with the Raiders as long, other than kicker Sebastian Janikowski. While I may love a Janikowski jersey, most fans are not interested in sporting their kicker’s gear.
In that brief period of success, McFadden looked like a guy who could find his way to being one of the top five running backs in the league. I am now skeptical if he can ever reach those heights again, and even if he did, I am certain he couldn’t do it for a full season. But nonetheless, he is the closest thing to a star the Raiders have.
Rather than being symbolic of actual success, McFadden appears to be symbolic of the collective hunger seen from a starving Raider Nation. Without any other potential studs to latch on to, Raiders fans appear to have not given up on McFadden, or at least have not given up on wearing gear featuring his name.