Al Davis

He isn’t Jim Plunkett, but if you look hard enough…

This California boy won a Heisman trophy at one of California’s most storied college football programs before being drafted in the first round by a team on the skids, and then came back to California years later in a trade for two first round draft picks.

His name?

Jim Plunkett.

You thought I was talking about Carson Palmer, didn’t you?

I could’ve been.

Plunkett won a Heisman at Stanford, while Palmer did it with USC.

Plunkett was drafted by the Patriots, Palmer by the Bengals. And Plunkett became a 49er (before signing with the Raiders) in exchange for a player, two 1st Round picks and a 2nd Rounder…

Palmer has become a Raider for two 1st round picks (one of them conditional).

A 33-year-old Plunkett took over the Raider’s starting job after a season-ending injury to then-incumbent quarterback Dan Pastorini.

Carson Palmer, in his 31st year, will most likely be taking over the starting job after a season-ending injury to Jason Campbell.

Now the only question that remains: will Palmer continue to follow Plunkett’s trajectory?

Plunkett would go on to win two Super Bowls with the Raiders, and became one of the greatest Raiders of all-time.

It’s not unreasonable to assume Palmer could do the same.

The Raiders have the 4th-best rushing offense in the league, and Palmer will have six capable targets to choose from. Darrius Heyward-Bey is coming into his own, Darren McFadden will catch passes out of the backfield, Denarius Moore is showing flashes of real brilliance, and Kevin Boss is a solid threat over the middle. There’s also Jacoby Ford and Louis Murphy. Heck, Chaz Schilens can also do big things when he wants to.

Palmer is a few seasons removed from his best play, but he threw 26 touchdown passes for a 4-12 Bengals team last season. Kerry Collins was the last Raider to throw more than 20 touchdown passes, and it’s been almost a decade since Rich Gannon threw 26 for the Raiders in 2002.

It’s going to be said a million times, but let’s say it once more: Al would’ve loved this deal.

The Raiders give up next year’s number one and a conditional pick in ’13 for a chance at winning now. The Raiders once gave up a 1st overall pick for a sizzurp-slurping failure who was one of the biggest draft busts of all time in JaMarcus Russell, so this is already an improvement.

If Palmer is more Jim Plunkett than Jeff George, Raider fans have a lot to look forward to.

The Raiders Sports Guy, Francis Mayer, has extensive experience in radio as a producer and former morning show host at 106.1 KRAB in Bakersfield, and now works producing a morning news show. He’s also a freelance writer and huge Oakland Raiders and Minnesota Twins fan. And yes, he knows that’s an odd combination.

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