ALAMEDA – With injury or in health, Darren McFadden is always active in the community. The veteran running back makes regular public appearances around the Bay, and has done so for years.
Fan reception used to be positive. Now, after so many setbacks over five seasons, the reaction isn’t always so nice.
“I guess it’s kind of mixed emotions, half and half,” McFadden said. “For me, I’m going to be the same person regardless. I’m going to go out there and do what I’m supposed to do in the community, do what I’m supposed to do on the field. I can’t worry about what’s happened in the past. I can only deal with what’s in the future.”
McFadden’s recent playing past is plagued by injury. The former No. 4 overall pick has been hurt in every professional season including this one. He’s missed six games and most of three others with hamstring and ankle injuries in a contract year, a worst-case scenario for a rusher trying to prove worthy of another multi-year contract.
McFadden recovered from an ankle sprain enough to practice on Wednesday and be in line to play Sunday against the San Diego Chargers.
Rashad Jennings will remain the starter, as he was when McFadden played Dallas on Thanksgiving. McFadden and fullback Marcel Reece will split carries in reserve, and the former star tailback hopes to make a solid impression and ease the pain of another lost season.
“I would love to,” McFadden said. “That’s one of my things, finishing hard. I know once I’m out there playing hard, I know what I can do, so I don’t let the other things creep into my mind.”
Other things are generally disappointments, opportunities wasted by ill health.
McFadden hates being categorized injury prone, but that label is super-glued to him. McFadden’s tried to brush it off without success, but stands tall in front of the press. He stays focused on what he can control but admits, “it’s a lot easier said than done.”
“Darren’s a playmaker,” Raiders fullback and longtime friend Marcel Reece said. “When you can’t be out there working on your craft, it’s going to eat at you.”
Another injury-riddled season will impact his market value and should end his tenure with the Raiders. While he'd like to remain with the team, McFadden isn't commenting an uncertain future just yet.
“I’m just going out there playing football and at the end of the year, whatever happens, happens,” McFadden said. “I can’t control that. The only thing I can control is just going out there and playing football.”