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Oakland Raiders’ Legendary Quarterback Jim Plunkett: Thoughts on the Past and the Team’s Future
Life is so unexpected, you never know what will come your way, and this morning a dream I've had for decades came to fruition when I was able to speak with Oakland Raiders two-time Super Bowl Champion, Jim Plunkett.
As a life long Raiders fan, I was fortunate to meet the man just before he went on to achieve legendary status. It was a moment that ignited a passion and dedication for the team that I've had for many years. Little did I know that one day a close personal friend of his and long time business associate would read one of my articles and graciously offer to set up an interview with my childhood hero. This morning, I spoke with the great Jim Plunkett on his past, the team heading into the future.
Plunkett was the Heisman Trophy winner in 1970, beating out names like Joe Theismann from Notre Dame and Archie Manning out of Ole Miss. He was a first round draft pick out of Stanford, and spent his first five years in the NFL with the New England Patriots. In his first year he was named the AFC Rookie of the Year, but in subsequent years the Patriots' weak offensive line resulted in Plunkett taking a beating and he struggled with injuries. He moved on to the San Francisco 49ers for two years before joining the Raiders in 1978.
Plunkett is grateful for the opportunity he had to play with the Silver and Black and remains a dedicated fan and supporter. He continues to work for the team as a Raiders' legend, and is also a co-host of the "Silver and Black" show.
I asked the Super Bowl MVP how he felt about not being inducted into the Hall of Fame, as of yet, despite the fact that the majority of fans and former players feel it is a great injustice. He responded, "It's up to the voters. I had a great career and two Super Bowl wins. If I don't get in, I don't get in."
He's appreciative of what he was able to accomplish, and if he is someday elected, it'll be the icing on the cake.
Plunkett is both concerned and excited about the Raiders' future and said "Mark Davis obviously needed some help, being unable to fill the shoes of his father." He said that he hopes "Reggie McKenzie will have the insight to bring on the right players to the team, not necessarily names like Andrew Luck or Calvin Johnson, but lesser known players who have the talent to make big contributions in the future." Plunkett likes that Ron Wolf strongly endorsed McKenzie, indicating that it's a very good sign.
I asked the co-host of the Silver and Black show how he felt about Carson Palmer. He said that Palmer was thrown into a "very difficult situation last year," with little chance to get to know the players and develop a rhythm, and he feels that 2012 will be much better for him, especially on offense with the great offensive weapons he has, including Jacoby Ford, and of course running back, Darren McFadden.
As with most everyone else, Plunkett realizes the defense is what needs the most improvement, and that's where the team has failed the most over the last decade. Allen certainly has his job cut out for him.
As members of the Raider Nation, we know that being a Raider fan is like being part of a big supportive family, and Plunkett loves that. He said, "There are always going to be a few nut jobs out there, but for the most part, Raider fans are the best.The poor image that came from the time the team was in L.A. and started to be associated with gang members in the area is slowly fading." It's definitely not the true image of the average Raider fan.
Finally, the now 64-year-old talked about how emotional he gets over the game. As a fan, I get incredibly drained with the extremely emotional highs and lows, but for Plunkett, he said it's almost as if he's "still in the game," but has no control over what happens. "It gets very draining," he commented.
Speaking with Plunkett was an incredible honor, and it's also nice to know that he still has that same fire and passion for the team that we all have.
K.C. Dermody grew up in the Bay Area of California, and has been an Oakland Raiders fan for her entire life. She has continued her loyalty to the team through its many ups and downs over the decades, and has been privileged to meet several of her favorite players, including famed quarterback, Jim Plunkett. Follow her on Twitter @kcdermody or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/kcdermodywriter.
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