For Campbell, though, Palmer’s presence on Oakland’s roster is another negative development in a career marked by them. Suddenly, he faces one more major obstacle between him and reaching his potential. For the Wile E. Coyote of quarterbacks, the biggest anvil of all just fell out of the sky onto his head.
Even if Campbell returns this season, Palmer is the Raiders’ new guy, so long as he’s healthy and effective. Teams don’t give up as much as Oakland did for Palmer, just to put him on the bench. That means Campbell’s status in Oakland, and his future in the league, is up in the air once more.
Redskins fans traveled this road with Campbell for four years. So did I. Campbell was Washington’s starter for my first three years on the beat. During this time, we developed a strong working relationship. And since he moved on to Oakland, we’ve become friends.
I offer that to explain I’m biased about Campbell. He’s among the most honest and loyal people I’ve encountered. I know what he’s done to help others without seeking attention. He’s just a good guy. I root for him to succeed. Not only on the football field — in life, period.
A first-round draft pick with Washington in 2005, Campbell was expected to help revive the franchise. He was supposed to be the next Doug Williams. Obviously, it never worked out for him here.
Campbell’s critics say he lacked the skills necessary to become a championship-caliber quarterback. True, Campbell shares some of the responsibility for his failure in Washington. Bottom line, he didn’t get it done.
But the Redskins weren’t exactly stable when he led them.
Campbell was drafted into an organization that made too many personnel mistakes to create the type of successful environment that helps young quarterbacks. There was a ridiculous star system in place, in which at least one key player was pretty much permitted to do as he pleased, and you just can’t have that.
The offensive line — the foundation of every offense — was treated as an afterthought. For two of Campbell’s years as the starter, the coaching-front office dynamic was so bad that it would have undermined the abilities of Hall of Fame quarterbacks.
After Campbell suffered a season-ending injury in 2007, backup Todd Collins led Washington to four consecutive victories and a playoff berth.Then Joe Gibbs left the team, Jim Zorn was hired and, well, perhaps Campbell would have been better off if Zorn had chosen Collins. The Zorn era was a debacle, and Campbell regressed.
Campbell, 29, hoped a fresh start in Oakland would revive his career. He thought the situation would be better for him, and it was at times last season, except the former head coach wanted another guy to start.
Still, Campbell remained resilient — his toughness has never been questioned — persevered and led the Raiders to their best season in years. With the new head coach on his side, Campbell was playing well this season until last week’s injury.
Now, the waiting resumes. Campbell is left to wonder about what’s next. It’s a tough spot, and unfortunately for him, one with which he is all too familiar.