Forgotten Player of the Moment – MARC WILSON
(By Ed Agner. Requested by Dean Rasmussen)
In case you weren’t aware, Dean is an evil-evil-evil-evil man. As if making me rehash Jay Schroeder wasn’t bad enough, he now asks for Marc Wilson. Oh sure, the first reaction is to do what we here at VP.com do best – nothing. But ever since I saw the request, I was reminded of the Raiders of my long-lost youth and…now I must do it or never sleep again. Stupid Dean.
So yeah, Marc Wilson. Without even bothering with a Google, the two most memorable things about Marc Wilson in my mind – other than the fact that I remember always getting sick to my stomach when I saw him at QB instead of the corpse of Jim Plunkett – were: 1) the Raiders had to have a designated swearer on the team since Wilson was too religious to actually swear himself (which is amazing on two counts: A) I always figured you’d have to pass an advanced swearing test just to become a Raider, and B) because Wilson sucked so much, I can only imagine the amount of swear words the designated swearer had to throw out every time Wilson turned the ball over or threw over the head of an open receiver), and 2) a Dave Casper quote about life after Ken Stabler as Raiders QB to the effect that it was strange being in a huddle where the QB’s breath smelled like milk shakes instead of Jack Daniels (This last bit may have actually been about Gifford Nielson when Casper was an Oiler. But really, there is no difference between Nielson and Wilson. None.). I also recall thinking it was a horrible sin that he wore number 6 instead of a real QB’s number but…then…it was Marc Wilson and…that was the least of this problems. All other memories of Marc Wilson involve me punching something when he turned the ball over or missed a wide-open Cliff Branch.
But the full story – or at least the longer story – on Wilson is that he was a big-armed QB who put up amazing numbers at BYU. Of course, the NFL was unaware of the toxic nature of BYU QB’s then, so people saw those numbers and got as aroused as Mel Kiper at the college combine weigh-ins without thinking …”Hmm, ya know, mebbe playing in a crap conference with a wide-open offense doesn’t really make those QB numbers mean a whole heckuva lot.”
Now prepare to be shocked: said big-armed QB was heavily lusted after by one Mr. Al Davis, owner of the then-still-Oakland Raiders. I know what you’re thinking – Al Davis doesn’t have a fetish for big-armed QB’s who are otherwise useless. Nay-nay, Al Davis likes gritty QB’s who are only marginally talented but full of brains and fortitude, QB’s who could double as leading men and still be upright community leaders, all the while…
Yeah-yeah-yeah. There’s no way you can paint the miserable Raider QB failures of my lifetime without getting down to brass tacks and admitting that Al has never gotten over the strange feelings deep down in his leather track suits for Daryle Lamonica.
So, in 1980 the Raiders blew a first round pick (Yeesh. How many times has that phrase been written?) on a God Boy out of BYU entering…well…the Oakland Friggin’ Raiders. Culture shock might be a bit of an understatement. But it didn’t matter much since the kid was there to ride the pine while Dan Pastorini took charge. Whoops. Make that Jim Plunkett. Well, whatever, point is that the rook was there in Oakland only to learn. And I’m certain just sharing a shower with John Matuszak and Ted Hendricks was like getting a Rhodes scholarship….To an extent…In what field, I don’t really want to know. Yeah…I really don’t want to pursue that thought any further.
Anyway, the rook rode the pine and Jim Plunkett lead the Raiders to the Super Bowl over the Eagles – yes, Eagles fans, once upon a time, the Eagles won an NFC title game – and all was happy with Raider Nation. Yipee!
Until the next training camp.
The aged Plunkett started feeling the years and Wilson had an incredible pre-season. Yeah. You know where this is going. Al’s big arm fetish and Plunkett’s injuries pressured Tom Flores to start Wilson and – hey! Look at that! A lost 7-9 season after a Super Bowl – a season more notable for Al’s court battles with the city of Oakland and the NFL whilst trying to move to LA! Just gotta be bad luck. Of course.
Plunkett regained his health in ’82 and ’83, for the most part. The Raiders won another Super Bowl in ’83. Wilson played little. All was good in the football world. At least to me. I don’t give a rat’s about the rest of you.
Then the Raiders’ geezers started falling apart (Yeesh! How many times has that been written?). Plunkett started his slow descent into the glue factory and the Marc Wilson era began in earnest. Ugh. So much darkness and pain.
What I like to remember about the Wilson ’84-87 era is…umm…Well. You know. It’s the stuff that everyone likes to remember about the second Reagan term: inflation, unemployment, homelessness, the fear of nuclear holocaust, teenage awkwardness, general bleakness. Aww, see I’m painting the Marc Wilson era in a better light already.
In all honesty, the Marc Wilson era was a good thing for me, personally. Oh sure, he was abysmal, no question. But his level of play prepped me for the string of likewise fabulous big-armed QB disasters to come. If it wasn’t for Wilson and his occasional flash of brilliance mingled in with a whooooooole lot of suck, how could I have stomached Jay Schroeder, or Jeff George or…ugh…Kerry Collins? Well, OK. I couldn’t/can’t stomach any of them. But I didn’t/haven’t shot any of them…yet. So really, the lack of homicides to my name is a testament to the groundwork laid by Marc Wilson. Huzzah! God is love!
But hey! It’s not like I even saw the worst of Marc Wilson. After being out of the league all of 1988, Wilson landed in New England and was handed the bulk of the snaps over the corpse of Steve Grogan, another first round flop in Tony Eason and the eternally-screwed Doug Flutie. He limped through a bad year with a bad team in ’89, no better or worse than the usual sucktastic levels of a prime Marc Wilson. But it was the immortal year of 1990, on perhaps the worst football team to ever team, where Marc Wilson left his…uh…mark as the King O’ Stink – a 61 QB rating, 6 TD’s and 11 picks. Oh yeah. Even Jay Schroeder would laugh at that.
Humiliated and beat up, Wilson hung on to hold a clipboard in Green Bay for a while then faded out of the NFL to start his own land development company – which is appropriate considering he was really good at digging holes for his teams.
In 1996 Wilson was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame, another testament to the fact that the college years are the best of your life…which saddens me to no end for far too many reasons.