Mirer remains starter for Oakland

Updated: November 13, 2003, 7:57 PM ET
Associated Press

ALAMEDA, Calif. -- Rich Gannon, last year's NFL MVP, will miss the rest of the season and have surgery on his throwing shoulder.

The Oakland Raiders placed the quarterback on injured reserve Wednesday.

The 37-year-old Gannon attempted to throw with his right shoulder Tuesday for the first time since getting knocked out of Oakland's 17-10 loss to Kansas City on Oct. 20. He was able to raise his arm to throw, but couldn't release the ball, coach Bill Callahan said.

Gannon, a 16-year veteran, flew home to Minnesota on Wednesday to be examined by the same doctor who performed his shoulder surgery after his 1993 season with Washington. He missed all of the 1994 season and then was released by the Redskins.

Callahan wouldn't go as far as saying the torn labrum is a career-ending injury and expects Gannon to play in 2004 for the Raiders, who are 2-7 and off to their worst start since 1964.

"It's extremely tough to lose a player of this caliber," Callahan said. "What he provides this team not only with his play, but his leadership and preparation, to have the MVP of the league miss almost half the season is disappointing. He feels bad. If there's anybody who wants to get back on the field, it's Rich Gannon."

Gannon was hurt in the first half against the Chiefs following two sacks by linebacker Shawn Barber and several other hard hits.

With backup Marques Tuiasosopo also out for the year with a knee injury, Rick Mirer will be the starter for the last seven games.

"It's kind of the tale of our season," said Pro Bowl right tackle Lincoln Kennedy, one of the Raiders' team leaders. "It's just the way things have gone. A lot of people we kind of counted on and had high expectations for the season are no longer with us. ... Right now, the team is fighting for survival."

Gannon was 125-of-225 for 1,274 yards, six touchdowns and a completion percentage of 55.6 this season. He threw four interceptions and was sacked 17 times for a subpar 73.5 quarterback rating.

He struggled this season coming off his MVP year in 2002, when he led the league's top offense as the Raiders won their third straight AFC West title and reached the Super Bowl for the first time in 20 years.

Last season, Gannon broke the NFL completions record with 418. He led the league with 4,689 yards passing, nearly becoming just the second quarterback to go over 5,000 in a season. Dan Marino threw for 5,084 yards in 1984.

Gannon completed 67.6 percent of his attempts, had 26 touchdowns passes and only 10 interceptions. His 97.3 rating was second in the NFL to the Jets' Chad Pennington. He also threw for more than 300 yards in 10 games, another record.

"To lose a leader like that is really hard," Kennedy said. "I know it's harder on him. I've seen him the last couple days and it was hard for him to come to this decision. He's always been a player, ready as much as possible.

"I'm not surprised. I kind of expected it -- not only when it happened, but the fact he was unable to come back the last couple weeks."

Callahan is holding out hope that Gannon would be ready by spring minicamps. If not, his future with this franchise could be uncertain, because he's scheduled to make $7 million next season.

"I feel terrible for him," Callahan said. "He's a quality person, a quality player, a class act. ... If there's anybody capable of coming back from injury and fighting through it and getting back on the field, Rich can do it."

The Raiders also placed backup center Matt Stinchcomb (shoulder) on injured reserve and elevated rookie linebacker Shurron Pierson from the practice squad. Oakland also claimed defensive tackle Terdell Sands off waivers from Green Bay.

Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press