Barring a miraculous recovery by Jeff Hostetler, Vince Evans, the Raiders’ 38-year-old backup quarterback, will start Sunday in Kansas City against the Chiefs.
Although he has been a Raider for seven years, this would be Evans’ first start for the club under normal conditions. He started three replacement games during the 1987 strike.
“At this particular time, I’ve committed to Vince,” Raider Coach Art Shell said Wednesday, “unless something suddenly changes as far as Jeff is concerned.”
That seems unlikely. Hostetler has been limping for 10 days after spraining his right ankle in the first quarter of the game against the Cleveland Browns. He has begun throwing a bit but has been unable to take his normal spot in practice.
Wednesday, while Evans ran the offense, Hostetler stood at the other end of the field and gingerly tossed passes.
“I want to make sure that when he does go back in, he’s healthy enough to compete,” Shell said. “Knowing Jeff, he’ll try on one leg if he can, so I got to make sure that doesn’t happen.”
One good leg is barely all Hostetler had in the second half against Cleveland. He was also hampered by a sore left knee. But Hostetler still managed to talk his way back into the lineup, insisting he could do the job.
Without his usual mobility, however, Hostetler was unable to move the offense. The Raiders got only one first down in the final 30 minutes, that one coming on a penalty, and blew a 13-point lead to lose, 19-16.
It will take more than talk Sunday to get him back on the field. It will take two good legs.
“I feel very confident in Vince,” Shell said. “I feel that he can get the job done.”
But, as of noon Wednesday, Evans still hadn’t been informed he would get the chance.
“He (Shell) hasn’t looked me in the eyes and said, ‘Vince Evans, you’re going to be the starter,’ ” Evans told reporters.
But, he said, he’s expecting it to happen.
“It’s taken a long time to earn,” Evans said, “but I’m thankful to be in this position and I hope to make the best of it.”
Not counting the replacement games, Evans hasn’t started an NFL game since his days with the Chicago Bears. His last start came on Oct. 30, 1983, in a game the Bears lost to the Detroit Lions, 38-17.
After signing with the Raiders for the strike games in ’87, Evans stuck around, but he threw only 17 passes over the next four years.
In 1992, he completed 29 of 53 for 372 yards and four touchdowns with three interceptions.
But the numbers that were etched in the minds of the Raider hierarchy were those compiled in the final game of the regular season in Washington. Playing in relief of Jay Schroeder, Evans completed 15 of 22 passes for 214 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Raiders to a 21-20 comeback victory over the Redskins.
At 37, he still had life in that throwing arm.
Now, at 38, he might be starting all over again.