Somewhere, in a land far, far away, former Redskins quarterback Jason Campbell is quietly thriving. No, he’s not setting the league ablaze with gaudy stats; his jersey isn’t filling the stands of his new home; and he probably isn’t even the best quarterback on his new team. But, he is winning. After being banished from Washington, D.C., and later benched by the Oakland Raiders, Campbell’s back and, apparently, so are “Da Raidaaas!” That’s right, Jason Campbell, the District’s former whipping boy, is now the centerpiece behind the Raiders’ 5-4 revival while the Redskins (4-4) might be on the brink of disaster—again.

If you compare Campbell’s numbers to those of Washington’s new quarterback, Donovan McNabb, they aren’t significantly better, but they do possess the edge. I’d take Campbell’s 7-5 touchdown/interception ratio over McNabb’s 7-8 anytime, anyplace and anywhere. McNabb probably wishes he was anywhere but Washington right now as he’s witnessing firsthand the same type of coaching incompetence that plagued Campbell’s five-year tenure in the capital. And to think, all this time we thought it was Campbell who couldn’t get it right.

Success in the NFL is a lot like buying real estate—it’s all about location. Campbell isn’t doing anything in Oakland that he wasn’t doing in Washington, it’s just that his coaching staff actually has a plan and the team is actually executing it. You want to see a team without a plan, see the last two minutes of the Redskins’ game against the Detroit Lions in week eight. You want to see a team with a plan, see Oakland’s 59-14 win over the Denver Broncos two weeks ago. Big difference.

Ironically, before McNabb got traded to Washington in April, one of the teams he reportedly crossed off his trade destination list was in fact the Raiders. It’s funny how things work out. It’s also funny how I could even drop Oakland and Washington into the same sentence. Or is it? For years we’ve seen Oakland as the graveyard where NFLers go if they’re looking for one last payday before their careers fall off. We’ve seen prominent stars such as Randy Moss, Daunte Culpepper, Kerry Collins and Warren Sapp fall into the enigma that is nicknamed “the Black Hole.” But haven’t we also seen our fair share of highly-paid Redskins morph into complete disappointments?

This NFL season has been nothing short of football fraud. Annual powerhouses aren’t annual powerhouses anymore and seasonal doormats aren’t seasonal doormats any longer. But maybe the biggest myth we’ve discovered is that the place we used to think was the absolute worse for an NFL free agent to go isn’t even where we thought it was. Come to find out we were short a few thousand miles.


Stephen D. Riley

Special to the AFRO