With Oakland Raiders starting right offensive tackle Lincoln Kennedy retiring, the question becomes – will more Raiders follow suit?
That scenario was likely even before Kennedy announced his intention after Oakland’s 41-7 loss Monday night to the Green Bay Packers. Expect at least a couple of more Oakland veterans to call it a career. Oakland finishes its season on the road Sunday against the San Diego Chargers.
Kennedy has been a fixture on the Raiders offensive line since they acquired him in a trade from the Atlanta Falcons, where he spent three largely unfulfilled seasons. Atlanta chose Kennedy with the ninth overall pick in the 1993 NFL draft. Kennedy, however, enjoyed a revival when he arrived in Oakland.
Kennedy has played in three consecutive Pro Bowls but has battled through an assortment of injuries. Just pick one. This season alone, Kennedy has played through knee problems, a torn left calf and a variety of other injuries. He limped off the field during the fourth quarter Monday after a Green Bay player landed on his troublesome right knee and left the field with a steady round of applause. Kennedy wandered around to the fans that remained and expressed his gratitude.
There are two words that aptly apply to the 32-year old Kennedy – class and warrior. The 6-foot-6, 335-pound Kennedy has played through injuries that might have sidelined other players. In addition, Kennedy has conducted himself with the class and dignity that every professional athlete should. Are you listening Terrell Owens, T.J. Duckett and Joe Horn – among others?
Wide receivers Jerry Rice and Tim Brown are at the top of most people’s speculated lists to join Kennedy. Rice and Brown may not be among the best receivers in the game anymore but they are far from the worst. Their production declined this season but the revolving door at quarterback coupled with Jerry Porter’s injury has not helped their productivity.
Brown has caught 51 passes for 560 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Rice has tallied 61 receptions for 855 yards and two touchdowns. Neither has revealed their intentions.
The 41-year old Rice, however, is not likely to have the patience to stick through a rebuilding project. Rice could return across the Bay to San Francisco. That scenario, however, is unlikely since they already flipped him the bird once but Rice could help several teams who feel they are one player away from winning a Super Bowl. If Brown continues to play, he is likely to stay a Raider, the only team he has known since entering the NFL in 1988.
Other Raider veterans have not said yes or no to the “R” word question but defensive end Trace Armstrong and linebacker Bill Romanowski will hang it up, in all likelihood.
The 38-year old Armstrong ended up on injured reserve for the third consecutive season after sustaining a shoulder injury earlier this season in a win over Minnesota. Armstrong did not say he was retiring but suggested somewhat strongly that he would.
The 37-year old Romanowski was placed on injured reserve after suffering a concussion, one of several he has sustained in his career. Romanowski has several as an unofficial advisor for the Raiders defensive players and has already begun working on his other career, a commentator for NFL telecasts on FOX.
Then, there’s 38-year old safety Rod Woodson, who was a vital cog in the Raiders defense last season. Woodson, however, was placed on injured reserve with a knee injury. Woodson has hinted he would like to come back next season because he does not want his career to end on this note. Woodson might be worth bringing back because of his intelligence and savvy.
Vince D’Adamo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org