Michael Crabtree was a two-time (Fred) Biletnikoff winner in college and the Raiders needed a wide receiver with their first pick of the 2009 NFL Draft. Nearly every draft prognosticator, and many in Raider Nation, who pegged the Raiders picking a receiver, had Crabtree going to the Raiders with the seventh pick of the draft.
That didn’t happen.
Instead, the Raiders chose speed burner Darrius Heyward-Bey from the University of Maryland. Heyward-Bey didn’t win a Biletnikoff award and he was just barely an end of the year honorable mention in the ACC.
Three picks later, the San Francisco 49ers picked Crabtree, and forever the two careers will be linked — especially while they are both working in the Bay Area. To make the link even more lasting, Crabtree held out his rookie season because he argued that he deserved DHB money and that it wasn’t his fault the Raiders were stupid to draft Mr. Honorable Mention in front of him.
If that wasn’t enough, Crabtree came back after his five-game holdout and surpassed Heyward-Bey in receptions in just three quarters. Leading up to this Sunday, Crabtree told former Raiders, and current 49ers beat writer, David White, “I’m not worried about Darrius [Heyward-Bey]. I’m focused on winning the game. But at the same time, I’m thinking about the Raiders.”
So obviously, Heyward-Bey was asked about Crabtree on Friday. “I’m going against their defense. That’s all I focus on,” said the Raiders’ second-year receiver, who trails Crabtree 20-11 in receptions on the season.
Taking the high road is nothing new for Heyward-Bey. He’s been refusing to say anything negative or controversial since the Raiders picked him over his Bay Area counterpart. A great example of that is the question he was asked soon after the last one — (in the 49ers’ primetime games) have you seen what Crabtree has done?
“I’ve seen their games, and all their games have been close. I mean, they’ve come down to the last possession, and also, I watch Vernon because we went to school together, so I watch those games, they could easily be a one-loss team.”
Once again, high road.
One reason that Heyward-Bey hasn’t had many opportunities, if you believe Tom Cable who says, “it’s been kind of take what they’re giving you,” then Heyward-Bey’s production is just a byproduct of doing what it takes to win.
DHB is fine with that as long as the team wins. “Winning’s everything. If we win, I’m happy,” he said. Of course, he’d very much like to get passes thrown his way, but unlike Crabtree, he is mature enough to understand that there are 11 guys on offense — not one.
“I mean every receiver wants the ball, but I mean, it’s an offense,” said Heyward-Bey in answer to if he gets frustrated not getting the ball. “You’ve got to play within the offense. You’ve got to do your job and it’s not always catching the ball all the time. You’ve got to block downfield, you’ve got to be a decoy, you’ve got to do a lot of different things. Our time will come.”
There are probably many within the Raiders organization, especially those who were part of the 2009 draft, that would love to see his time come this Sunday. Despite what the young receiver keeps telling everyone, he most likely wouldn’t mind one-upping Crabtree on Sunday.
Good luck getting him to admit it.