Three days after the Raiders’ 13-9 victory over Philadelphia, people – media, fans, even players – were still talking about the pigeon. Or rather, The Pigeon. He may be on his way to surpassing the birds killed by Dave Winfield and Randy Johnson as the most famous in sports history. Larry Bird doesn’t count.
In case you missed it, a pigeon decided he (no, I don’t know for certain it’s a he, but I’m going to avoid the awkwardness of gender-neutrality here) would be Raiders’ 12th man on Sunday. He loitered around the line of scrimmage all afternoon and got his beak into several plays. Watching from the press box, at least half a dozen times I thought a player’s shoe had flown off, only to realize it was the pigeon, flapping to narrowly avoid a collision.
The most amazing sight came when the bird flew downfield on a Raiders kickoff – in formation, on the left flank of the coverage team, right next to Michael Huff.
Injured tackle Cornell Green has a theory: “That’s Marquis,” he said in the locker room today. “That’s the position he played (on kickoff).”
Marquis, of course, is Marquis Cooper, the Raiders special-teamer who died at sea when his fishing boat overturned in stormy seas in the Gulf of Mexico on Feb. 28. One friend survived the ordeal, but Cooper and two others were never found.
Apparently, Green isn’t the only one convinced Cooper has come back as a pigeon to help his old team. Another player said he spoke to Cooper’s mother after the game, and she posited the same notion. Whoever the pigeon is, he should be invited back for the Jets game.