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Bruce Gradkowski
No. 5     Oakland Raiders
Quarterback
Personal information
Date of birth: January 27, 1983 (1983-01-27) (age 27)
Place of birth: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Height: 6 ft 1 in (1.85 m) Weight: 220 lb (100 kg)
Career information
College: Toledo
NFL Draft: 2006 / Round: 6 / Pick: 194
Debuted in 2006 for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Career history
 As player:
*Offseason and/or practice squad member only
Roster status: Active
Career highlights and awards
  • N/A
Career NFL statistics as of Week 17, 2009
TD-INT     15-16
Passing yards     2,824
QB Rating     65.9
Stats at NFL.com

Bruce Raymond Gradkowski (born January 27, 1983 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) is vying for the starting job as quarterback for the Oakland Raiders of the National Football League. He was drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the sixth round of the 2006 NFL Draft after playing college football at Toledo. He is known as 'The Polish Cannon'[1] due to his heritage, and 'Toledo's Finest,' and 'RocketMan,' a nod to his alma mater and 'The Great Gradkowski' from his rookie pre-season days with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. After 2009 late game comebacks against the Cincinnati Bengals and the Pittsburgh Steelers, fans in Oakland and radio announcer Greg Papa coined the nickname 'Bruce Almighty', also called "the Bruce" in reference to the film Braveheart.

Gradkowski has previously been a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, St. Louis Rams and the Cleveland Browns.

Contents

Early years

Gradkowski is a 2001 graduate from Seton-La Salle Catholic High School in Pittsburgh and played as a member of the Seton-La Salle Rebels from 1997 to 2000 in the Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League (WPIAL). This is the same league that produced football legends such asTony Dorsett (Hopewell High School), Dan Marino (Central Catholic High School), Joe Montana (Ringgold High School), Joe Namath (Beaver Falls High School), and Johnny Unitas (St. Justin High School). In high school, he ultimately performed at a higher level than any of them did. As a junior, Gradkowski threw for 1,630 yards and 10 touchdowns. This performance was then significantly improved as a senior, when he completed 188 out of 327 passes (a completion percentage of 57.5%) and threw for a then-WPIAL and PIAA (state) record of 2,978 yards and 30 touchdowns (surpassing the previous mark set by Marino). In high school, Gradkowski performed well in basketball, serving as Seton-La Salle's starting point guard and leading his team in scoring. He beat Spencer in the championships. He was once interviewed by a reporter in high school, when the reporter asked "How do you feel about being in the same league as some of the best quarterbacks to play the game?" Bruce simply replied "Hope is a good thing, and no good thing ever dies". March 10, 2010 Bruce Gradkowski on KNBR 680 radio admitted he has never seen Shawshank Redemption, and never said the above quote.

College career

After redshirting as a freshman at Toledo in 2001, Gradkowski saw action only as the holder on the special teams unit. In 2003, he was thrust into the starting position as a sophomore. He set a Mid-American Conference season record by completing 71.2% of his passes. He threw for 3,210 yards, with a school season record of 29 touchdowns and 7 interceptions and a final passer rating of 161.53. He proved he could scramble by rushing for 504 yards and a score on 91 carries (5.5 avg). In 2004, Gradkowski honed his skills and passed for 3518 yards with 27 touchdowns and 8 interceptions. Statistically, his senior year was his weakest, but he pulled off a victory in the GMAC Bowl and won MVP. Other MVPs of the GMAC Bowl have included Byron Leftwich, Ben Roethlisberger, LaDainian Tomlinson, and Omar Jacobs.

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Statistics

Year CMP ATT YDS CMP% YPA LNG TD INT Sack RAT
2003 277 389 3210 71.2 8.25 66 29 7 9 161.53
2004 280 399 3518 70.2 8.82 96 27 8 14 162.56
2005 207 332 2469 62.3 7.44 70 29 12 9 146.42

Professional career

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers drafted Gradkowski with the 25th(194 overall) pick in the 6th round of the 2006 NFL Draft. After a preseason in which he recorded the highest passer rating of any Tampa Bay quarterback, he was slotted in second string behind Chris Simms.

Gradkowski was named the starter for week 5 against New Orleans. He became the starting quarterback due to the ruptured spleen suffered by Simms. He had the best starting debut of all 2006 rookie quarterbacks by completing 20 out of 31 attempts for 225 yards with 2 touchdowns and no interceptions. His performance was good enough to post a 107.6 passer rating and a near upset of the New Orleans Saints. After his first loss, he won two straight starts despite declining numbers versus Cincinnati and Philadelphia before losing to the New York Giants, New Orleans Saints, and the Carolina Panthers. After losing three in a row, he won on November 19, 2006, against the Washington Redskins posting a 104.9 passer rating - that game was the first start for Redskins' Quarterback Jason Campbell. Then on Thanksgiving day, he lost to the Dallas Cowboys, throwing 2 interceptions. At this point the offense was hardly able to score a touchdown. He lost his second in a row to his hometown Pittsburgh Steelers, throwing three interceptions. He lost another two starts to the Falcons and Bears, being pulled in both. In the second quarter in Chicago He was pulled for good in favor of Tim Rattay. He would not start again in 2006 as Rattay led a furious comeback scoring 4 Touchdowns in the second half, whereas under Gradkowski the Bucs just suffered through a streak of 10 scoreless quarters.

In 2007 against the Washington Redskins, Gradkowski came in after the first play because of a Jeff Garcia injury. However, he struggled, and the offense was unable to produce points despite numerous turnovers in enemy territory. The next week, Luke McCown would start because of Gradkowski's poor performance.

He has a record of 3-8 as a starter. Gradkowski set the record for throwing more passes in NFL history before suffering a second career interception(200).[1]

On May 30, 2008, Gradkowski was waived by the Buccaneers.

St. Louis Rams

Gradkowski was claimed off waivers by the St. Louis Rams in June 2008, but was waived during final cuts on August 30.

Cleveland Browns

Gradkowski was signed by the Cleveland Browns as their fourth-string quarterback on December 2, 2008 after quarterback Derek Anderson was placed on injured reserve. He was the starter for the Browns' 2008 season finale against the Pittsburgh Steelers on December 28, 2008, after injuries to Anderson, Brady Quinn, and Ken Dorsey.[2]

Gradkowski was waived on February 9, 2009.

Oakland Raiders

A day after being waived by the Browns, Gradkowski was claimed off waivers by the Oakland Raiders.

On November 22, 2009, in his first start for the Raiders, Gradkowski threw 2 touchdowns, matching JaMarcus Russell's total for the season to that point, and led the team to a 20-17 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals. In week 13, the Raiders won 27-24 on a huge upset against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Gradkowski completed 20 of 33 passes for 308 yards and 3 touchdowns, including an 11-yard game winning touchdown to Louis Murphy. For his performance in this game he was awarded the AFC Offensive Player of the Week award for week 13 of the regular season.[3][4] It was also a new record in the NFL, for the most come from behind touchdowns thrown in the 4th Quarter since 1991, when statistical records only started to be kept track on this.

On December 13, 2009, he was injured in a game against the Washington Redskins during the 2nd quarter and replaced by JaMarcus Russell. The Raiders lost 34-13, the stagnant offense had trouble mounting any offense with Gradkowski out.[5]

Gradkowski missed the remainder of the 2009 season with a partially torn MCL in both knees. [6] He was signed for a 2nd round tender for the Oakland Raiders for 2010-2011.

In March 15, 2010, he was re-signed by the Oakland Raiders for One year.

Career statistics

Passing

YEAR G GS ATT CMP CMP% YDS YPA LNG TD INT RAT
2006 13 11 328 177 54.0% 1661 5.1 53 9 9 65.9
2007 4 0 24 13 54.2% 130 5.4 -- 0 1 52.4
2008 2 1 21 7 33.3% 26 1.2 -- 0 3 2.8
2009 6 3 132 77 54.5% 854 6.5 -- 6 3 80.2

Rushing

YEAR G GS ATT YDS AVG LNG TD 1ST FUM LOST REC
2006 13 11 41 161 3.9 14 0 -- 11 6 3
2007 4 0 7 20 2.9 -- 0 -- -- 0 0
2008 2 1 1 2 2.0 -- 0 -- -- 0 0
2009 6 3 15 92 6.1 -- 0 -- 4 3

References

External links

Sporting positions
Preceded by
Chris Simms
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Starting Quarterbacks
2006
Succeeded by
Tim Rattay
Preceded by
Ken Dorsey
Cleveland Browns Starting Quarterbacks
2008
Succeeded by
Brady Quinn
Preceded by
JaMarcus Russell
Oakland Raiders Starting Quarterbacks
2009
Succeeded by
Charlie Frye

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