Collins, Gannon are in sync so far

You have to hand it to Raiders quarterbacks Rich Gannon and Kerry Collins.

They did everything but hold hands and sing "Kumbaya" Tuesday when the Raiders opened a three-day voluntary minicamp.

Gannon and Collins had a tag-team bout with reporters, taking turns pouring ice water on any talk of a quarterback controversy.

"You guys are trying to create something more than there is," Gannon said. "I'm here to work with Kerry and help our team win."

Controversy? What controversy? Collins all but asked.

"We're both veterans," Collins said. "Rich hasn't said one bad word about me. I think we get along as people. I think it will be fine.

"Rich is the starter. We both know our roles. I don't see any problem with it."

Enjoy the minicamp bliss while you can, guys.

Just wait until the games begin and Gannon struggles, as all quarterbacks do. Just wait until those in the Black Hole begin booing Gannon as if he were Walt Coleman. Just wait until they start screaming for coach Norv Turner to bench Gannon and play Collins.

You know it will happen, sooner rather than later. That's life in the NFL, where quarterback controversies -- real and imagined -- are as common as chin straps.

And no NFL team is positioned better for a good old-fashioned quarterback controversy than the Raiders.

The Raiders already had Gannon, a former NFL MVP who led them to the Super Bowl two seasons ago. Then last month they signed Collins, a free agent who led the New York Giants to the Super Bowl four seasons ago.

Name another team that has two quarterbacks on its roster who led teams to Super Bowls. There is none.

So get ready for some controversy, Raiders fans. But remember this: It beats the alternative.

Or had you forgotten the 2003 season? The Raiders lost Gannon to a season-ending shoulder injury. Then they lost raw backup Marques Tuiasosopo to a season-ending knee injury.

The image of third-stringer Rick Mirer directing a Stone Age attack apparently was enough to convince Al Davis something had to be done.

So the Raiders signed Collins, but not before giving Gannon a heads-up. Not that he needed one.

"I do have some intelligence," Gannon said. "I'm 38 years old. I think they looked at what happened a year ago when I did get hurt.

"I think they felt they needed to continue to improve the position. It made a lot of sense to me. It didn't surprise me at all."

To many, the biggest surprise is that Gannon is still a Raider. He's due to earn $7 million this year, and the common thought was that the Raiders couldn't afford to keep Gannon and Collins.

Of course these are the Raiders, a team that somehow keeps adding players as if there is no salary cap in the NFL.

That doesn't mean Gannon can rest easy. In Collins, Davis has the perfect leverage to convince Gannon to take a pay cut or at least rework his contract to create more salary cap room.

Gannon bristled when asked if he trusted the Raiders to treat him right.

"The only thing they can do right by me is let the best guy play," Gannon said. "As far as my trust in the organization, I've always felt comfortable here.

"They know what they'll get from me. The facts are out there. If you look at the four years before I got hurt, we did some good things."

Gannon led the Raiders to AFC West titles in 2000, 2001 and 2002.

Then came last year's 4-12 disaster that cost coach Bill Callahan his job and put Gannon's job in jeopardy.

When the Raiders signed Collins, wide receiver Tim Brown told ESPN that Gannon probably would be cut unless he restructured his contract.

And yes, that comment caught Gannon's attention.

"I haven't really had a conversation with him," Gannon said. "I try not to comment on people's future with the organization unless I have some inside information. I probably wouldn't even do that.

"Coming from a teammate, it was a little unusual. It was a little surprising."

A little controversial? Get used to it. Just remember, it could be a lot worse and is for many NFL teams that would kill for a quarterback controversy.

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