You may not have seen the No. 1-overall pick of the 2007 NFL Draft, JaMarcus Russell, in quite a while, but that’s him in this photo. He’s the guy who’s flat on his back.
In spite of all the physical tools on the planet — a 6-foot-6, 265-pound frame with a cannon for an arm and light on his feet — Oakland fans saw Russell on the ground with a defender standing over him far too often in his three seasons by the Bay.
However, you simply cannot teach size and arm strength. At 27 years of age, there is still potentially a lot of football left to be played for Russell. For that reason, one of the biggest (and not only in terms of sheer size) busts in NFL history has announced that he will mount an NFL comeback, according to Yahoo! Sports.
“My first year out, I couldn’t watch football but after a while, I couldn’t keep the TV off. I got that itchy feeling but now I gotta watch it, gotta watch,” Russell said.
“The last few years, the things going through my life, football is my job and it is how it feeds my family. People would say [that] I didn’t love the game but that pisses me off. People don’t know the real you but I want people to know the real me and see what I can do. People are always saying that I’m a bust. I want show them I’m not. I’m committed to this now.”
A comeback is not going to be easy. Especially if Russell cannot put down the fork. He entered the NFL at the aforementioned 265 pounds, but by the time he entered training camp in 2009, he was reportedly well over 300 pounds.
After signing a six-year, $68 million contract with $31.5 million of it guaranteed, Russell was out of the NFL after just three extremely disappointing seasons. He finished with a 52.1-completion percentage, 18 touchdowns, 23 interceptions and 15 lost fumbles. His 2009 passer rating of 50 was the lowest of any qualifying quarterback since the 1998 season.
Yes, Russell was rich, but he was so bad with the Raiders that the organization literally has not allowed a player to wear his No. 2 since he was cut. That includes Terrelle Pryor, who sported No. 2 while at Ohio State, but No. 6 in Oakland.
The odds are stacked against him, but the team in place to help make him successful should help turn the tide in his favor.
Again, according to Yahoo!.
Russell’s mentor through this whole process is former NFL wide receiver Mike Clayton, who like Russell is a LSU product. Over the next couple months, Russell will be training with Brian Martin of TEST Football Academy and TEST West, whose draft products include Joe Flacco and Patrick Peterson among others. In addition, former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jeff Garcia (quarterback technique training), Olympian Ato Boldon (speed training and analysis), Dr. Robert Price of Elite Minds (mental and psychological analysis), former NFL wide receiver Quinn Early (disciplinary work and focus), former New York Giants quarterback Scott Brunner (reading defenses and classroom sessions) and NFL Hall of Fame running back Marshall Faulk (reading defenses) will work as part of the team trying to reclaim the quarterback’s promise.
If you had not thought he was taking this comeback attempt seriously, this team of experts and former NFL superstars should indicate otherwise.
It remains to be seen, of course, whether or not he can be successful in the league.
But he is driven to at least try.
“I’m not looking for a pat on the shoulder from people who haven’t been there for me,” Russell said. “It feels funny not to go through a training camp, that’s just what I’m used to. It’s going to feel good to go back out there again. I will make this happen.”