Meet Jason Campbell, the anti-JaMarcus Russell at the Raiders quarterback spot.
This could be the most compelling role reversal in the Bay Area's newfound Bizarro World (see: the A's in first place, the Giants' Barry Zito at 3-0 and the Sharks past the playoffs' first round).
Campbell came to the Raiders in an eye-patch-raising trade Saturday with the Washington Redskins. He may not be Donovan McNabb (who took Campbell's job with the Redskins) or Ben Roethlisberger (who has "fallen short" and then some on the family-value scale), but Campbell most notably is not Russell.
Redskins tight end Chris Cooley bid a friendly farewell Monday to Campbell, reeling off quotes that contrast the image Russell has lugged around in his three years as a (not "the") Raiders quarterback.
"People just like him. I mean, he's likable," Cooley told the Washington Post about Campbell. "Especially after all the hits he took, that guy could have quit after Week 10 and just said, 'This is retarded, I'm not doing this anymore.' He just kept getting back up and playing for us."
Russell never started for the Raiders after Week 10 last season. It likely will go down as his final career Raiders start. He was 8 of 23 for 64 yards in a 16-10 home loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. Typical greatness.
Russell has not been a "likable" player. He's been justly criticized for his shoddy work ethic, passing accuracy, pocket presence, leadership, etc.
Campbell is regarded as a hard worker. He appears to be hitting his prime. He is coming off a career-best season: 64.5 completion percentage, 3,618 yards passing, 86.4 passer rating, etc.
"Jason has an excellent opportunity to start for Oakland. That's what he wanted," Cooley added. "That's what everyone wants for him. Everyone knows he's just a good dude, that he works his butt off, he's done everything right here, he deserves it."
To deserve the Raiders' starting job, Campbell must do what Russell couldn't, and that simply is to lead the offense. Can he?
Redskins running back Clinton Portis mocked Campbell's leadership capabilities a few months ago. As if Portis is one to talk; he's become more notorious for running his mouth than running the football.
Portis piped up in January about how Campbell never gets mad, never changes tempo and can't control the huddle. (Russell, by the way, has endured similar criticism for his laid-back nature.)
The best part of Portis' quotes is what came after them: a stern response from Campbell, who stood up for himself.
"To me, that's somebody who shows that they don't know what a real leader is," Campbell countered. "A leader is not someone who leads by the wrong example. A leader is someone who is trying to do the right thing and trying to lead by example, and not just (being) about themselves."
Campbell inherits a Raiders franchise in better shape than when Russell arrived in 2007 (or 2008, when Russell got thrust into a weak lineup for 15 games). A vast roster makeover was needed this spring, and that at least has been attempted, if not accomplished.
The offensive line, wide receivers and running backs remain raw. But they're more seasoned than a year ago, when Russell embarked on his boom-or-yep-he-is-a-bust season.
The Raiders haven't introduced Campbell to the Bay Area media yet. That likely won't happen until Friday's start of a three-day minicamp.
This isn't like last year, when Jeff Garcia showed up to push Russell. Campbell is here to start. He will have capable backups in Gradkowski and Kyle Boller (or Charlie Frye). Russell, in all likelihood, will be gone sooner than later.
"The trade worked out to the compensation we were comfortable with (a 2012 fourth-round draft pick) and it was the place Jason wanted to go," Redskins general manager and one-time Raiders executive Bruce Allen told reporters Saturday. "We had a lot of talks with the Raiders. It was clear they had an interest, and we wanted to pursue what we thought was the right thing for Jason and his agent."
The Raiders are banking on Campbell to be the right man for a job that's gone so terribly wrong post-Rich Gannon.
Best-case scenario: Campbell flourishes enough to vault the Raiders out of their 11-loss spin cycle and into contention.
Best-case scenarios? Raiders? This really is a Bizarro World.