I was kicked back and snacking in the recliner on an early NFL Sunday afternoon, waiting for the Raiders-Broncos game, when my 6-year-old son came in and demanded one of my pretzels. “Sure, champ,” I said as I flipped him a Rold Gold from about six feet away. The kid normally has good hands … but he dropped it. And I immediately thought of Darrius Heyward-Bey.
Knowing a single twisted knot wouldn’t have satisfied him anyway, I rolled off the chair and trudged toward the kitchen to get him a bowl of his own. As I emptied the last few pretzels, complete with bottom-of-the-bag salt residue, into his bowl, I tore open the Doritos and topped off my own, thinking, “Dang, this is gonna make me fat.” And I suddenly thought of JaMarcus Russell.
On the way back to my carefully crafted, full-body dent in the recliner, I stepped on a wayward Lego, banged my knee on the coffee table and fumbled my chips. Which made me think of Darren McFadden.
After hitting the deck to battle the boy for a few crumbs of fumble recovery, I plopped back down into my seat and did absolutely nothing. Which reminded me of Mike Mitchell.
And in that simple sequence of gorging, tripping, injuring and father-son bonding, I had summed up the last three Raiders drafts and prepared myself for what I was about to watch.
The career arc of Russell, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2007 draft, has been well-chronicled, and the book on McFadden continues to be written with several missing chapters. Heyward-Bey, for all his efforts, appears to be every bit the Roberto Duran protégé he was nationally pronounced to be when the Raiders shocked the league by selecting him with the seventh overall pick in April. But it was Mitchell that suddenly piqued my interest. What had become of the obscure second-round pick from Ohio University, who was an even bigger draft-day stunner than Heyward-Bey?
A lazy stretch for the laptop and a quick Google search of the words “Raiders Michael Mitchell” told me all I needed to know. The most recent results yielded in the search for the man Tom Cable compared to Ronnie Lott and Jack Tatum were from … April 29.
In fact, the entire first page of results includes nothing more than stunned critiques of the Raiders’ draft selection and video tributes to Mitchell’s big hits for the Bobcats, all of which are dated eight months ago.
In other words, if Web results of recent activity are any indication, the opinions of the draft gurus were spot-on, because Mitchell has been completely invisible and irrelevant since April.
While it’s true that Mitchell battled a hamstring injury coming out of training camp, the Sad Raider Stat of the Year, to date, is this: Mitchell has just two more tackles (12) than Heyward-Bey has receptions this season.
As I settled in for the start of the game, I pulled a blanket over me because I felt a draft. Which made me think of next April, and Al Davis making picks in it. Then, I really started to shiver.
Sports personality Bob Frantz is a regular contributor to The Examiner. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Recent draft picks
A look at the Raiders’ first- and second-round draft picks the past three years and their production this season:
1st round — Darrius Heyward-Bey, wide receiver (Nine receptions, 124 yards, 1 TD).
2nd round — Mike Mitchell, safety (12 tackles)
1 — Darren McFadden, running back (325 yards rushing, 1 TD)
2 — None
1 — JaMarcus Russell, quarterback (1,185 yards passing, 3 TDs, 10 INTs)
2 — Zach Miller, tight end (50 catches, 657 yards, 2 TDs)