ALAMEDA, Calif. -- Jeff George never doubted he had what it
took to be an NFL quarterback, even when he was coaching the
run-and-shoot offense last year for his son's fourth grade team.
The former No. 1 overall pick and strong-armed passer who
bounced around the league for more than a decade is back after
signing a contract with the Oakland Raiders on Monday, nearly five
years after he last threw an NFL pass.
"I always thought I should've been out there -- for whatever
reason, I wasn't," George said. "I was out last year. It's tough
watching TV and seeing the guys ... and you're not part of that. So
I'm just very thankful this organization believed in me and allowed
me another opportunity, because I don't know where I'd be without
George, the top pick by Indianapolis in 1990, previously played
for Oakland in 1997-98, is mostly an insurance policy for the
Raiders, who already have Aaron Brooks, Andrew Walter and
Marques Tuiasosopo on the roster.
Brooks has played well the past two preseason games and will
open the season as the starter, and Walter is viewed as Oakland's
quarterback of the future.
Walter missed the last preseason game with a sore right
shoulder, but practiced Monday and said he felt fine and should
play this week. Shell said the main reason to sign George was to
get him familiar with the system in case they needed him later this
"It's a precaution for us to bring a guy like that in because
you can lose a quarterback," Shell said. "And then when you lose
one you have to have somebody ready to go. Even if he doesn't stick
with us, there'll be somebody out there that knows a little bit
about our system."
George made a few throws in the portion of practice that was
open to the media, including two sharp passes deep down the middle
of the field.
"I've always been intrigued by the guy, to be honest with
you," Shell said. "He still has that zip, he still has that quick
release and was very impressive."
George, 38, played with the Colts from 1990-93. He was in
Atlanta from 1994-96, then spent two seasons with Oakland and one
with Minnesota before joining the Redskins in 2000. He was signed
by Seattle as insurance midway through the 2002 season, but didn't
play. Chicago signed him late in 2004, but he never played for the
He has been throwing regularly with former high school and
college teammates near his home in Indianapolis and doesn't feel it
will take long to get back in a groove.
"I've always been able to throw the ball, I've been blessed to
throw the ball. And I think I'll be able to do that till I'm 60,"
George said. "Football's football, plays are the same,
terminology's a little bit different. But I felt good out there. I
felt I really haven't missed a beat."
George, known for his rifle arm and clashes with coaches, has a
46-78 career record as a starter and has never lasted longer than
four years with any team. He has thrown for 27,602 yards, with 154
touchdowns and 113 interceptions in his career.
George made it to the postseason twice, losing in the wild-card
round with Atlanta in 1995 and taking Minnesota to the NFC
championship game in 1999. He teamed with current Raiders receiver
Randy Moss on the Vikings that season and Shell said Moss
recommended the team bring in George.
George hasn't played since 2001, when he was cut by Washington
after two games. In those games, George completed 23 of 42 passes
with three interceptions as the Redskins were outscored 67-3.
In his next-to-last game with Washington, he and coach Marty
Schottenheimer had an animated sideline discussion after George was
removed following a four-turnover performance.
George also had a sideline argument with coach June Jones when
he was with Atlanta in 1996, and the team suspended him, then cut
"I've said along the way that every situation I have been in
has been tough," George said. "You can't be successful learning
new offenses year in and year out. ... As a quarterback you just
need that chemistry and be together for quite some time. I just
haven't had that. For whatever reason, I have always been a
quarterback of the teams that were in that transitional phase and
George played well his first season in Oakland, throwing for
3,917 yards and 29 touchdowns in 1997, but the Raiders only went
4-12 that season.
He struggled with a groin injury the following season and
started only seven games. He was replaced the following season by
Rich Gannon, who was a better fit in coach Jon Gruden's West Coast