On December 6th 2009, against the Pittsburgh Steelers, on the road, Bruce Gradkowski became the leader of the Silver and Black. At only 25 years old, it is safe to say that his best years are ahead of him.
Against a VERY stout Pittsburgh Steeler defense he became the first Raider QB to throw for 300 yards in a Raider Victory since Kerry Collins, who'd replaced the injured Rich Gannon earlier in the year, pulled off the feet in a 25-24 victory over the Denver Broncos on November 28th 2004.
That is a full 5 seasons of football since the team that is built on speed and the deep ball has had a quarterback throw for 300 yards and win!
In our most recent glory years, 2000-2002, it was common for the Raiders to go for 300 or more yards through the air and delight the denizens of the Silver and Black Nation with countless victories, even producing an NFL MVP in Rich Gannon.
For the first time since Rich Gannon retired the entire Nation witnessed a QB make every proper read, take what the defense gave him and then pick apart the defense like a wild surgeon through the air when it mattered most.
In fact, Bruce may have done something that I have never seen a Raider QB do, this goes back to about 1980 when I can actually recall the games that I've seen. He led three lead taking scores, on the road in the 4th Quarter. And you know what Raider Nation, I think this is more the rule than the exception for this kid.
To a man, this team believes in him. His teammates say things like, "He works hard", "He comes in early", "He stays late" and "He watches tons of film". What a refreshing break from someone who had everything handed to him, JaMarcus Russell, and refused to do the work that is required from an NFL quarterback.
Gradkowski was discovered by, none other than, John Gruden in the 6th Round of NFL Draft and he worked his way into the starting position in his rookie season, only to be too green and end up on the bench. (Gruden also brough Gannon to Oakland)
"BRUCE" is everything Oakland and he is EVERYTHING Raider. He comes from a blue collar family in Pittsburgh and he has been bounced around the League in his short career and has found his stride, like so many before him, in the Silver and Black.
It will take another great performance to beat the Redskins next week, but, with "Bruce Almighty" at the helm, things are looking up in Oakland!!! I wonder how many fans still want to NOT show-up and miss watching these youngsters grow?