So the talk of the NFL this week was the Oakland Raiders’ unlikely win over the Philadelphia Eagles, and more specifically, the pigeon which appeared to fly along with the Raiders’ special teams unit for one play during a kickoff return. Several Oakland players are now saying that it was no coincidence that the bird looked so comfortable on the play. It just may have been, they say, the ghost of deceased teammate Marquis Cooper.
Cooper, a linebacker and special teams player for the Raiders, was lost at sea in a tragic boating accident in March, and is presumed dead. Oakland running back Justin Fargas, who was close to Cooper, told a Sacramento radio station this morning that their fallen teammate is never far from their hearts, and when they saw the pigeon appearing to cover a kickoff, many had the same thought.
When KHTK-Radio (Sacramento) host Mike Lamb asked Fargas about it during their interview, the running back confirmed the story.
“It kind of gives you a different perspective on things. Yeah, it was definitely a strange event seeing that bird flying out there. It seemed comfortable on the football field and comfortable lying down there literally on special teams. It very well could have been Marquis.”
Fargas said that as soon as they saw the bird land, teammates Cornell Green and Sam Williams walked up to him on the sideline and mentioned Cooper.
“Great technique,” Fargas said of the pigeon’s cover effort. “It was perfect lane assignment. You couldn’t teach it any better.”
Before you think that people are getting disrespectful here, note that Cooper’s own mother, Donna, was thinking the same thing. From the CONTRA COSTA TIMES:
Film of a pigeon accompanying the Raiders down the field on a kickoff return made for an amusing highlight, but struck a few players as something more significant.
“You see that pigeon?,” Green said to teammate Sam Williams. “That was Marquis.”
Indeed, even the mother of Marquis Cooper, the Raiders linebacker and special teams standout who was lost at sea on March 1 and presumed dead, thought the same thing.
Williams checks in with Donna Cooper regularly.
“She said, `That was Marquis out there with you guys,’ ” Williams said. “That was something else. I just saw it on the field, wondering why it was there. Once I saw it with us, covering the kick, it was special.”
Fargas, Green and Williams have co-produced and performed a song in Cooper’s honor, entitled “Message In a Bottle,” which can be found here.