Well, these are the stories you get stuck with during the longest offseason in sports.
Charles Woodson has landed back where he started his career — in Oakland — where the future Hall of Famer will almost certainly wrap up his career and cement in place in Silver and Black lore.
During his first stint in with the Raiders, Woodson was one of the elite corners in the league. He wore No. 24 for the silver and black and switched to No. 21 when he went to Green Bay. Raider Nation, however, will always know him as 24.
Apparently, Woodson wanted his old No. 24 back for his second go-round with the Raiders. Tracy Porter, as of a few days ago, was wearing No. 24. Normally, this is either a non-story or a quick blip that gets taken care of quietly in house between two players. Maybe a new car or a vacation is involved — some sort of high-end gift. By the looks of things, however, that does not appear to be the case in this situation.
Instead, it appears that the Raiders simply took the number away from Porter. That is a bit of an issue on its own, however, not the big one. The bigger issue, in my opinion is that Porter, an NFL veteran and owner of a Super Bowl ring with the Saints, felt compelled to take his gripe to Twitter for all of the world to see. Here is how the first tweet went:
‘Well you Raiders fans…your guy has 24. It was TAKEN from me and given to him. #congrats…..too funny how this biz “works”‘
Porter followed that up with this:
‘Not mad at all…it’s just the principle and the way it was handled…..said my piece, now back to football.’
Why? Why say your piece? Why broadcast any kind of weakness, drama or closed-door matters to the world?
You don’t see this kind of dirty laundry being aired out in public by quality franchises. The good ones bottle this stuff up and settle it behind closed doors. This effort is often led by veterans — like Tracy Porter — who have been around the block and know what kind of distractions these small issues can snowball into. If your veterans can’t lead this charge, who can?
This is the type of behavior I personally thought the Raiders were ready to leave behind when they brought in Reggie McKenzie to run the franchise. McKenzie’s last gig was with the Green Bay Packers, one of the most stable and respected organizations in all of sports. I’d like to think he was leading the charge to change the locker room culture of the organization and transition it to something more closely resembling what we see in Green Bay or even New England. It looks like that is clearly not the case.
Speaking of New England, a similar situation happened there a few years ago and got little-to-no media attention — at least of the negative, anyway. When Chad Ochocinco was acquired by the Patriots, Aaron Hernandez was wearing No. 85 at the time. Hernandez, as this ESPN article states, simply handed the number over to Ochocinco for nothing.
Think about that for a second. One of the most outspoken, flamboyant players in recent memory walked into the locker room of a new team and was handed the number he’d always worn by a young player that would someday be on trial for the worst crime a human being can commit. No car. No money. No trip. No drama. Just business. That’s how the good organizations do business, regardless of the individual players involved.
One Raider fan-site tried to defend Porter’s actions, saying “Can you really blame Porter for not being happy with the way this was handled though? It isn’t the way it should’ve went down for more than a couple of reasons, and the least of it is the compensation he should’ve had the right to negotiate.”
Negotiate? C’mon. How big does your ego have to be? Porter was upset that the Raider organization valued the feelings of one of its all-time greats over his. That’s one issue. The fact that the Raiders just did this without consulting both players is another.
At the end of the day, it’s a small story. But I do believe it speaks volumes about the culture of the Oakland Raider franchise and how far they have to go before they are once again one of the most prestigious and respected organizations in the sport.
BY J.P. SCOTT ON JULY 26, 2013