Reggie McKenzie and Dennis Allen have preached since they arrived that the character of their players was of utmost importance. In regard to players they seek to add to this team, they have also spoken of the love for football, knowing what it takes to win, and wanting to play for the Raiders.
After watching Matt Flynn for four seasons in Green Bay, McKenzie saw he had a strong character presence in Flynn. From the outside, Dennis Allen saw a winner.
"My impressions of him have been very good," said Dennis Allen in a conference call Monday. "He won a National Championship there at LSU, he was on a World Championship football team with the Green Bay Packer, so this is a guy that understands the thing it takes to win a championship. When you talk to people that have actually been in the building with Matt Flynn, they talk a lot about the type of guy he is and the type of football character that this guy has."
Having great character was never that important to Al Davis. And having players who wanted to play for the Raiders became in short supply in the past decade. The evidence was the large sums of money he was forced to shell out to get or keep players in Oakland. And the results were not good.
This continued even after Al Davis passed. Hue Jackson gave up a lot of draft picks to acquire Carson Palmer and Aaron Curry midway through the 2011 season. They both came with sizable contracts as well, and neither had the kind of impact to justify the compensation and salary.
Curry is long since been cut and now Palmer has been replaced and is on his way out the door as well. Reports were that he wanted to leave the Raiders. He certainly was unwilling to lower his salary to a level the Raiders deemed worthy of his services or perhaps he was content on being traded or cut than take any kind of pay cut. That simply doesn't jibe with the primary character pillars of the new Raiders.
I am not here to tear down Carson Palmer. He was a solid quarterback for the Raiders and he will continue to be so after he leaves. But if you are judging him by the criteria Allen laid out and those he and McKenzie have previously laid out, Palmer doesn't compare.
Palmer didn't win a National Championship in college or was on a Super Bowl team. His character was tarnished by his early retirement and trade demands from Cincinnati prior to the 2011 season. Now it would appear he doesn't want to be a Raider either.
I wouldn't even be drawing these comparisons if it weren't for Dennis Allen and Reggie McKenzie making it clear what he values in a player and how Palmer and Flynn differ in that regard. What McKenzie saw in Flynn when he drafted him has only enhanced since then, and Dennis Allen agrees.
"I don't think you can ever substitute the fact of being able to be in the building watching a guy on a daily basis for four years like Reggie (McKenzie) did," Said Allen. "Obviously he spent time evaluating him coming out of college before they drafted him. He was able to watch him for years in the building there studying under Aaron Rodgers."
When it comes down to it, we still don't know if any of his great character and experience on winning teams will amount to the Raiders having success on the field. The Raiders are hoping if they bring in players who have the intangible qualities, it will translate to their performance.