Monday, December 29, 2014

Quads from COMC Part 2 of 3

I know the Raiders have a storied history, and that back in the day with John Madden and whatnot, they were kind of a dynasty.  For a mid 80's baby like myself though, I don't really remember a competitive Raiders team nearly at all - I just remember dreary times for the boys in silver and black.  The only year I can even remember the Raiders excelling is 2002, where they went to the Super Bowl (and even then it wasn't great, with Rich Gannon throwing a Super Bowl record 5 interceptions in the game).  Since this set is from early 2002, this card is sort of a precursor of the Super Bowl run to come - so let's see how these guys contributed (or didn't) to that 2002 Super Bowl run!
James Jett was an Olympic sprinter first and WR second, but he still ended up with a nice little 10 year career with the Raiders anyways.  Jett ended up on the Men's 4 x 100 relay team at the 1992 Summer Olympics thanks to his speed, and the team came away with a gold medal for their efforts at the games.  Jett didn't actually run the finals, instead just running the first two rounds before giving his finals spot to well known sprinter Carl Lewis, but he was still very much a part of the team, and well deserved his Gold Medal at the end of the day.

The Raiders were enamored with Jett's breathtaking speed, so they signed him as an undrafted free agent in 1993 to be their deep threat.  And honestly, he was pretty good at it.  In his rookie year, Jett led the league in yards per catch with a 23.4 average on 33 receptions.  He slowed down a bit over the next two years, but then from 1996 to 1999 Jett was a pretty steady force, including a career year in 1997 where he scored 12 touchdowns on just 46 receptions.  Things slowed down for Jett after that, and his last year was actually the Super Bowl 2002, where he started one game before hamstring and ankle injuries led to him being inactive throughout the season.  So he was at the Super Bowl, but unfortunately did not get to contribute.  Jett then tried to hang on with the Buffalo Bills in early 2003, but was beaten out by Sam Aiken and Charles Johnson for roster spots and never played in the NFL again.

David Dunn was another speedster, which unsurprisingly was an Al Davis Hallmark of the 90's-00's Raiders.  His career started as a 5th round pick of the Bengals in 1995, and he was a decent kick returner for them, with a long of a 90 yard touchdown in 1996.  Dunn also saw a decent amount of time at slot WR for the Bengals, with careers highs of 32 receptions and 509 yards in that same 1996 season.  1997 was not as bright though, and so in 1998 the Bengals let Dunn go, with the Steelers picking him up.  Dunn did well returning kicks for that Steelers squad, but they went elsewhere for 1999, so Dunn went to Cleveland for a year before moving on to the Raiders from 2000 to 2001.  Dunn did add another kick return touchdown to his numbers in those Raiders years, but with lowish return averages and very little to offer in the receiving game, he was cut after 2001 and was not a part of the Super Bowl team in 2002.

Randy Jordan, the lone RB on this list, was actually more of a hybrid h-back type than a true RB.  He, like Jett, was an undrafted signing of the then Los Angeles Raiders in 1993, and in that first season he earned two starts.  The Raiders were apparently unimpressed though, so Jordan was cut and spent the 1994 season out of football.  Luckily for Jordan, 1995 brought the Panthers and Jaguars into the league, and the Jaguars took a chance on Jordan to help give some veteran experience to their backfield.  Over three years in Jacksonville, Jordan started three games and played in 34, not producing much in the way of stats but always providing nice blocking the a young Jaguars team.  Nice enough, that is, that the Raiders snatched him back when the Jaguars let Jordan go in 1998, allowing Jordan to spend his final five seasons in the league with the same team that first gave him an NFL opportunity.  Jordan saw quite a bit more ground action in these final five years, including two 40+ carry seasons and eight combined touchdowns, and he was able to be a part of that 2002 Oakland Raiders Super Bowl team before retiring to work in coaching, first with those 2003 Raiders and currently with the Washington Redskins as their RB coach.

Jerry Porter is easily the biggest name on this card, coming out of West Virginia as a 2nd round pick in 2000.  He was yet another speed guy (West Virginia produces a lot of those), and got to develop behind Jerry Rice and Tim Brown from 2000-2003 as the third WR, which was a nice little luxury to have.  In the 2002 Super Bowl season, Porter still was able to contribute 51 catches for 688 yards and 9 touchdowns, so it isn't like he was some forgotten third WR during that time, but he clearly wasn't the team's focus (although he did catch a TD in the Super Bowl).  In 2004 Porter finally received his full chance to shine, and over the next two years he just missed 1,000 yards each season and caught 14 combined touchdowns.  2006 could've been a year to build off that, but injury and discontent led to Porter only playing four years, and then in 2007 he caught just 44 balls in 16 games, clearly a disappointing effort for a WR1.

Now those late 00's Raiders were a mess - they are, after all, the same team that nearly ended Randy Moss' career, so Porter too felt he could do better elsewhere.  The Jacksonville Jaguars agreed, and they signed Porter to a multi-year contract that included $10 million dollars in guaranteed money.  De to some injuries, Porter wasn't even able to make it cleanly through year one, and when the Jaguars cut him after the season, Porter was never signed to an NFL team again.  So he made quite a bit of money for that one year, but obviously the Jaguars had been hoping for so much more.

Who wins the card? It has to be James Jett.  Porter had the highest expectations on the card and never lived up to them - he never even had a 1,000 yard season or 10+ TDs.  Jett, who was undrafted, had one of each of those seasons and put together a nice little career for himself despite little fanfare.

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