As have others who angered owner Al Davis before him, Steve Beuerlein saw his Raider saga end at an airport terminal. He departed Sunday after the Raiders traded the backup quarterback to the Dallas Cowboys for an undisclosed 1992 draft choice.
The Raiders were looking to rid themselves of Beuerlein since his summer holdout of 1990. Beuerlein returned to the team last September, but never was allowed to suit up for a game, all but sealing his fate.
The Raiders and Cowboys had agreed to a Beuerlein trade last January. The Cowboys agreed to give up a fourth-round choice, but Davis reportedly killed the deal when he changed his mind and asked for a third-round pick.
The Dallas draft choice obtained for Beuerlein is probably a fourth-round pick that could become a third-round choice based on playing time.
Beuerlein arrived in Dallas about 6:30 p.m. PDT and drew a crowd of reporters and television crews.
Later, by phone from his hotel room, he reflected on his strange career with the Raiders.
"I'm very grateful for the opportunity I had in L.A.," he said. "I got valuable experience early. It was an obvious show of confidence from people in the organization. Obviously, things didn't end up the way I wanted. There will always be some bitterness about that, the way things were handled last year, that I had to go through what I went through, I'll never understand why it had to happen."
So ends Beuerlein's dramatic fall from grace with the Raiders. The former Notre Dame quarterback, a fourth-round pick in 1987, was the team's starter at the end of the 1989 season, having beaten out Jay Schroeder, whom Davis acquired from the Washington Redskins in a controversial trade for star left tackle, Jim Lachey.
"It's a good opportunity for him," Coach Art Shell said after Sunday's practice. "We wish him well. We couldn't keep four (quarterbacks), so we felt it was a good situation for Steve to go down to Dallas and compete."
Beuerlein was the lowest-paid starter in the NFL at $140,000, and seemed to have negotiating leverage entering 1990. But the holdout dragged on through the summer. While Beuerlein eventually signed for $400,000, the relationship was forever doomed.
"It's hard to figure out," Beuerlein said. "Some people pointed out today . . . (defensive tackle) Scott Davis holds out for 37 days, comes in about the same time as I did last year, and he plays two days later. I hold out, and I don't see a uniform all year." Beuerlein came to camp in July with renewed hopes. He signed a two-year, $1.09-million contract and was told he would be given a shot to compete with Vince Evans for the No. 2 quarterback spot.
Statistically, Beuerlein won the battle, completing 22 of 42 passes for 268 yards with three touchdowns and one interception.
Evans completed 10 of 19 passes for 143 yards with one touchdown, but he did most of his damage in one game, an eight-for-10, 112-yard performance against the Miami Dolphins in Tokyo. Evans completed two of nine passes for 31 yards in three other outings.
The trade also means the Raiders believe rookie Todd Marinovich, their first-round draft choice, is ready to take over at quarterback should Schroeder be injured.
In sorting out his quarterback situation last year, Davis suggested Evans, who is 36, was only a short-term solution, insisting Beuerlein would have replaced Schroeder for any long stretch.
That responsibility now falls on Marinovich, whose pro career amounts to one appearance against the Cowboys Aug. 12. He completed three of four passes for 16 yards.
In Dallas, he understands he will play behind Troy Aikman.
"I know Troy Aikman is the guy," Beuerlein said. "I can deal with that. I've been told straight-forward where I stand and that's the bottom line. That was something that was never exposed to me with the Raiders. I don't have to be satisfied with it, but at least I know what's going on."
The Raiders traded reserve offensive lineman Newt Harrell to the Cleveland Browns for an undisclosed draft choice. "It's a good opportunity for Newt," Coach Art Shell said. "The numbers would have gotten him here."
Times staff writer Chris Baker contributed to this story.