I recently had an email back-and-forth with Silver And Black Pride Editor Levi Damien in an effort to give both of our communities some insight behind this week's opponents. We asked each other five questions each, and I'm going to post Levi's here. Despite two franchises that have traditionally hated each other, and lots of animosity heading into this game, our discussion was cordial. Levi is a pretty good dude. Connected, sharp and humorous. If you're a Steelers First, League Second kind of fan like myself, you'll enjoy his site.
BTSC: We don't like Carson Palmer. We have a history with Carson Palmer. Although it's been years since Carson Palmer was in Cincinnati and amounted to more than a a bum-elbowed prolific turnover machine, he's still around.
I've wondered this since my initial shock over his trade to Oakland (or more of what Oakland gave up for him) receded, what is the general attitude of Carson Palmer the player as well as Carson Palmer the person?
LD: The general consensus among fans is that the Raiders gave up too much. That being said, most understand there was not a lot of choice in the matter. The Raiders were taken advantage of and now must live with losing a first and second round pick. As a player, it has been a wait and see. Each week that passes and drives stall, the fans get more antsy. There are a contingency who still defend him, saying it isn't his fault. And there are still others who say his play is not up to snuff. I see it as the latter.
As a person, he is a great guy. He really is. He is genuine with the media and he is known to just stay after practice and shoot the shit with us, talking about USC and various other things. If you met him, you'd like him. High character guy.
BTSC: If there was one first-round pick you could do again, knowing what you know now, which one would it be, and who would you take instead?
LD: Oh, where to start. I will give a few just because I don't want to second guess myself. I will start with the two picks that I was most disappointed in at the time and have been proved correct about. The first was Robert Gallery. I was all in for Larry Fitzgerald. No explanation should be necessary. The second was Darrius Heyward-Bey. I was looking at BJ Raji to fix their woeful run defense. Then they wouldn't have had to trade a first round pick to get Richard Seymour either. As far as the one that the Raiders could have back, that would obviously be taking JaMarcus Russel over Calvin Johnson. That is the biggest bust vs the Canton bust. No question there.
BTSC: What player will Steelers fans want to watch the most on the Raiders team? Which guys stands out to you as the most talented, toughest, game-changing player?
LD: Wide receiver Denarius Moore is back healthy. He is the Raiders' long ball threat. He returned last week but he and Palmer's timing was a bit off so he didn't have as big an impact as he should have. The two have put in extra work this week to try and get back on the same page. Look for at least one big play for Moore and it could very well be a long TD.
BTSC: What were your thoughts on DeMarcus Van Dyke now, and do you wish he was not released now in hindsight, considering your cornerbacks have taken on some injuries?Well, I don't have any cornerbacks personally (editor's note: touche, Levi). And from the looks of it, neither do the Raiders. My opinions of DeMarcus Van Dyke have not changed much. I never thought he was a serviceable player. He wasn't a starter in college and was drafted by the Raiders because he was the fastest player in his draft. He used that speed to make up for some of what he lacked in instincts when he was playing in the Raiders man cover scheme and had some decent performances.
But in the zone scheme, he was lost. He is very thin and therefore a liability as a tackler. He was locking onto receivers and not turning to locate the ball. The result, in most cases, was either a catch over top of him or a pass interference. If he were eligible for the practice squad, the Raiders would have placed him there. And there is a chance he would have been called up by now. But keep in mind, Chimdi Chekwa, of whom the Raiders drafted right after DVD, has been on the practice squad and they keep signing free agents and activating them instead. Van Dyke and Chekwa were the only remaining corners from the old regime. The new scheme is completely different and therefore isn't a good fit for them.
BTSC: Who touched it first, Fuqua or Tatum?
LD: I don't think anyone will ever truly know. At least those who think with their heads instead of their hearts. It's not like there was HD and 15 different camera angles to prove it one way or the other. On one hand, back then, to overturn a call like that in Pittsburgh with the fans already storming the field, just wasn't going to happen. But even if It was an illegal double touch, that rule was changed down the road and rightfully so. It was a stupid rule.
The only issue I have with the whole thing is that is was a freak bit of luck and is heralded as "The greatest play of all time". It was not a great play. It was a crazy fluke in much the same way as the Raiders celebrate "The Holy Roller" play. The only great play there was the one made by Tatum. Sure, Franco Harris made a nice scoop on the ball but it was nothing out of the ordinary. Troy Polamalu has made countless more amazing catches and he plays on defense. Great plays are those such as "The catch" (Montana to Clark), or "The drive" (Elway), or one of a host of great moments in Steelers or Raiders history.