Being labeled the biggest bust in NFL history isn’t an easy obstacle to overcome. Somehow, JaMarcus Russell appears to be doing the unthinkable and has gotten the attention of several teams.
After spending his entire NFL career being a massive disappointment for the Oakland Raiders, the former No. 1 overall pick has spent the past few months proving that he’s hungry for a second chance. He’s lost over 50 pounds and recently landed a workout with the Chicago Bears. While they didn’t sign him, the fact that Russell is garnering any interest is a promising sign.
During his workout in Chicago, Russell reportedly showed the outstanding arm strength that got him drafted first overall back in 2007 and appeared to be in good spirits. Although he struggled a bit with accuracy and timing, the outing as a whole was strong.
So strong that, at this point, Russell has found his way onto the outskirts of the NFL’s radar. And the attention that he’s getting is well deserved.
It’s no secret how awful Russell was in his first three seasons with the Raiders. In 31 appearances (25 starts), he threw 18 touchdowns and 23 interceptions while amassing 4,083 yards, completing 52.1 percent of his passes for a 65.2 quarterback rating. Especially during his final year with the Raiders, Russell was a complete mess.
Whether it was a failure to hone his skills outside of practice, poor diet or just a dying desire to perform due to the massive amount of money the Raiders paid him, Russell was a train wreck.
Now, though, it appears that Russell has gotten his life back on track and has put football back atop his list of priorities. Regardless of what his reasons for the sudden change of heart might be, it’s respectable to see the once-promising quarterback mustering the physical and mental toughness to get back in shape.
In all honestly, Russell will never be a long-term option at quarterback. In today’s NFL, his big, sluggish frame and questionable mechanics just aren’t what teams need from a starter. If he can continues to impress and keep people interested, though, Russell could earn his way into a backup role with team in need of cheap depth.
It’s still going to take some time and persistence before Russell lands himself a contract offer. Once training camps and the preseason get under way, an injury could force an NFL team to go to their emergency list for an extra quarterback. When that time comes, Russell better be ready.
Talent can’t succeed without hard work. That was Russell’s ultimate downfall during his first stint in the NFL. If he can come to terms with the fact that laziness and pro football can’t coexist, the former No. 1 overall pick might not be a pathetic footnote after all.