Three years into the JaMarcus Russell reign as the future of the franchise for the Oakland Raiders – it’s over. It took a lot of courage for Al Davis to admit his mistakes on Thursday, flat out releasing the former first overall pick from LSU in favor of giving the starting job likely to former Skins QB Jason Campbell.
Russell may very well go down as the biggest draft bust in NFL history, rivaling that of former Chargers QB Ryan Leaf. In three seasons he put up 7 wins, and the team paid him $39 million for those seven wins. I am sure that when Al Davis and the team drafted him, never did they think Russell would make $5.5 million per win.
He got off to an awful start by missing his entire first training camp, then when he finally did roll in, he was fat. He never took the role as leader seriously, and commonly would sleep in meetings and spend way too much time at the buffets, sometimes getting close to 300 pounds according to reports.
Since the start of the common draft in 1967, only one other No. 1 pick was released this quickly in his NFL career. Indianapolis cut 1992 top pick Steve Emtman after three seasons, but that was more because of injuries than production. Emtman did play three more seasons with the Dolphins and Redskins. I would shock me to say the least to think Russell is going to have three more years in this game.
Lane Kiffin didn’t want him, and it seemed Tom Cable did whatever he could to not have to play him either. That should say a lot when coaches are not willing to hand the ball to a player that the owner has shoved down their throats. Finally on Thursday Davis saw the light, this after Russell came to mini-camp last week, had one good practice, then went back to his old ways.
I wouldn’t doubt a team takes a shot on Russell, but based on his short track record in the NFL, there’s no doubt that it would be a shock to see him associated with many on field success for however long the rest of his career spans.