OAKLAND -- Travis Goethel's nightmare of a game began when Jon Condo was knocked out of said game Monday night.
REWIND: Raiders' Bartell, Condo knocked out of game vs. Chargers
Goethel is a backup middle linebacker by trade; Condo a two-time Pro Bowl long snapper.So it only made sense that Goethel, who last long-snapped in high school and never on dirt replaced Condo in the Raiders' season opener on national television, right?Well"Trust me," Goethel said, "I wish it never happened."One of Goethel's long snaps to six-time All-Pro punter Shane Lechler bounced to him. Another was blocked, though it was not Goethel's fault, so to speak. And a third rolled to Lechler on the A's infield dirt like a 4-6-3 inning-ender.Actually, game-ender. And, truth be told, Goethel was in a rough spot. Teams, you see, do not carry backup long snappers on their 53-man roster. So rookie coach Dennis Allen essentially asked for volunteers when Condo was lost with what was described as a head injury."He asked if I knew how to long snap," Goethel said of Allen, "and I was the only one at camp that stood out. That's kind of how I got put in there."REWIND: Instant replay -- Chargers 22, Raiders 14
Said Allen: "He's worked on snapping the ball. Actually, he's done a nice job in practice. It's obviously a lot different when you get put in a game-like situation. He was put in a tough situation and it hurt us."The two flubbed snaps cost Lechler eight- and seven-yard losses. The blocked punt was recovered by San Diego deep in Oakland territory. The three plays resulted in nine points for San Diego. The Raiders lost by eight, 22-14. But it would be too simplistic to place the blame on Goethel.Or, as Lechler said in making like Dean Wormer when asked how many long snaps he takes from Goethel in a typical week, "Zero," as in Bluto's grade-point average in Animal House."My hats off to him just for doing it," Lechler said of Goethel. "That (stuff) aint easy. You know, he went out and did his best. Thats all you ask from a guy (who is) put in a situation like that."Two years ago, the satirical Web Site The Onion had prescient fun with Goethel when the Raiders selected him as a sixth-rounder out of Arizona State, saying he was drafted as a "realtor." But, The Onion said, it was "far better than being asked to switch to car dealer, casino greeter or long snapper."After Monday night, perhaps Caesars Palace is hiring? I joke, of course, and Goethel insisted his flubs were not mental.RELATED: Ratto -- Raiders get new coach, same game-day face
"It was just mechanics of snapping," he said. "If you don't snap that often, if you don't snap in a game since high school, it's a little different."Still, he had the backing of Lechler, who gave Goethel a pep talk."I said, 'Man, you got put in a tough situation,'" Lechler recalled. "'You got credit for having (guts) to step up and do it, you know? A lot of people would have walked away from that idea.'"I know he feels terrible. But he shouldnt."