Saints fans know Aaron Brooks. As a matter of fact, I know Aaron Brooks well enough to know that in the picture above, he's throwing it off of his back foot into double coverage. I don't know what game that's from, or the specific play, but I just know he was in the middle of doing something stupid with that ball. It's who he is. So I knew exactly what the Raiders had gotten themselves into when they signed Brooks to be their starting quarterback.
In limited time this preseason, Brooks has gone 2/9 for 28 yards with 1 touchdown and 1 interception in 2 games. That's a passer rating of 37.5. That's not good for someone touted as the Raiders' "difference maker," ESPN's words by the way, not mine. If by difference maker, one is referring to "he who makes Art Shell switch to a different quarterback," then that's sensible.
But what Brooks is drawing ire from Oakland fans and the sports media about isn't only his poor play, it's his (shock! awe!) bad attitude. NFL Live recently roasted Brooks for smiling after going 1-for-6 in the Raiders' Monday night game against Minnesota. As Saints fans are painfully aware, this behavior is nothing new. Brooks' nickname in New Orleans is Smiley. After 6 years with Brooks, Saints fans had almost forgotten what a hard-working quarterback actually looks like; when Drew Brees spent his sideline time studying overhead photos of defensive formations during the team's intrasquad scrimmage, it was like we were cavemen gazing at fire for the first time. Brooks just never did it. Despite his obvious gaffes and maddeningly poor decision making, Brooks insisted he was a top 5 quarterback and that the Saints problems rested elsewhere. So, believing that he could do no wrong, he'd follow a back-breaking interception with a hearty chucklefest on the bench. It was an insult to Saints fans, who quickly became polarized. Some pointed to 2003, his career year, his various Saints records, and his big-play ability as a defense and until this preseason, many Saints fans believed he could still be a star, despite coming to terms with the fact that it wouldn't be in New Orleans.
Well, everyone pulling for the black and gold should feel acquiesced because it wasn't the system, the "culture of losing", or any other excuse that comes from a victim's mentality that attributes the descent of Brooks' star to something wrong with New Orleans. Aaron Brooks is ruining Aaron Brooks, that's evident now that he's gotten a second chance. You could see it in the eyes of Art Shell, a no-nonsense kind of guy, whenever he's asked about Aaron Brooks. It seems obvious that Shell was probably against bringing in Brooks in the first place; the signing has Al Davis' fingerprints all over it. Brooks was such an obvious fit in Oakland, a franchise that has always valued athleticism over intelligence, discipline, character, or any other descriptor of winners. Once it became obvious the Saints would release Brooks, I knew the only place he COULD go was Oakland -- they'd be the only team foolish enough to fall for the big arm and not notice the lack of brains or heart, the empty space in his game where the great quarterbacks typically store clutch play, killer instinct, and leadership.
Luckily, the Raiders are confident in young backup Andrew Walter, and he'll assume the starting role soon (possibly before Week 1). Brooks' salary isn't really crazy either, so it's not like the Raiders have tied their hands as it pertains to the salary cap. But Brooks will hurt in the locker room if the rest of the team feels he's already given up on them (something Brooks is very good at doing). A couple of years ago, Brooks got into a shouting match with Saints defensive end Charles Grant on the flight home from a game. Players on the team contend that if it had escalated, Brooks would have gotten thrown from the plane -- the team was almost to a man behind Grant. Even TPWIHRTN had some friends and supporters in the Eagles' locker room after he got disowned by the team. It's starting already in Oakland, as well.
Already Randy Moss has made it known he wouldn't mind catching passes from Walter this year. Shell barely disguises his disgust for Brooks' work ethic and style of play. The media is down his throat for the recent smiling. And Brooks will probably adapt a "me vs. the world" mentality, but not the inspiring kind that pushes people to better themselves. Instead, he'll shut down and continue to insist that he's the solution and everyone else is the problem. And he'll do it with a smile on his face.
It may seem like a sea change to you, but to Saints fans it's just Aaron being Aaron.