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The Saga of Former Raiders RB Darren McFadden

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Former Raiders running back Darren McFadden officially retired from the NFL after the Cowboys released him earlier this week. “Run DMC” as he was called by Raiders fans, said he was ready to move on from the NFL via Twitter.

What does that mean for McFadden’s legacy with the Silver and Black?

Darren McFadden’s No. 20 will not appear in any Raiders Hall of Fame. The 2008 No. 4 overall pick rushed for over 1,000 yards once in Oakland.  He surpassed the mark again one more time in his career, with the Cowboys.

When McFadden arrived in Oakland, Raider Nation was ecstatic. A sub-4.4 40-yard dash and a stellar college career at Arkansas made McFadden an obvious pick. The running back could both catch and run. He was shifty enough to embarrass defenders but physical enough to finish runs and punish defenders. It was a true Al Davis pick.

 

Potential

Otherwise, McFadden’s legacy remains as great college career, followed with an NFL career filled with injuries and underachievement. Still, McFadden embodied the Raiders during his time with the Silver and Black.

Granted, that is not saying a lot.  They only sniffed the playoffs one out of seven seasons. Some of that was McFadden’s fault for his limited availability. However, a lot fell on the dysfunction of the entire organization.

Regardless, McFadden was an absolute fan favorite. When he was healthy, he was one of the few Raiders who could absolutely change the game with one handoff or catch. The former Razorback was praiseworthy off and on the field too. Athleticism, class, and playmaking made him an ideal Raider.

In 2010, he was legitimately in the conversation for the NFL’s best running back with 1,664 yards from scrimmage and ten total touchdowns.

Added, McFadden was the Raiders biggest X-Factor. Sometimes, it appeared he was the only one on an untalented offense. Often seen on Sundays when McFadden was not nursing injuries as well as any Madden game featuring those terrible Raiders squads. He would give many Raiders fans hope in losing bouts with a highlight stiff-arm, juke, or truck. McFadden always came to play even when the QB beside him or offensive line in front of him was laughable on their best days.

As a Raider, McFadden rushed for 4,247 yards, caught 1,769 yards, and scored 30 touchdowns. With 63 starts in 83 appearances over seven seasons, McFadden could not stay healthy. Beyond stats, McFadden was the Raiders’ brightest star in seven of the darkest years in Raiders history. He became a great blocker and mentor by the end of his time with the Raiders.

Towards the end of his time in Oakland,  appeared McFadden’s flaws had finally caught up with him. His high pad-level and limited elusiveness made him susceptible to hits. His downhill style started outrunning holes. Plus, injuries paved way for Jones-Drew and  Murray to take his snaps.

It appeared McFadden regained form with Dallas in 2015. However, distractions, injuries, and Ezekiel Elliott made McFadden nothing more than an afterthought. He was only active for one game in 2017 and three in 2016.

Ultimately, McFadden’s career with the Raiders much like the Raiders from 2008-15, during a dark era. People will remember him for potential, not production. Like many of those teams, he never lived up to the hope of Raiders fans or the draft bill Al Davis paid for him. Injuries made McFadden equally frustrating, as he was exciting. He is the reason many of us have nightmares about turf toe injuries. McFadden’s careers serves as prolific and tragic reminders, like every Oakland team he played on.

Nonetheless, McFadden was the Raiders star and hope during lean years. He was a game changer and praiseworthy when Oakland desperately needed as much as they could find. McFadden should become a Silver and Black legend from an otherwise forgettable time for Raider Nation.

How will you remember Darren McFadden’s career?

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