The words “draft bust” are synonymous with a number of NFL prospects. From the likes of Ryan Leaf to Brian Bosworth to Tim Couch, the list of underachievers extends far and wide. But the name most synonymous with that term may be JaMarcus Russell.
Russell was selected first overall by the Oakland Raiders in the 2007 NFL draft but, after just three seasons, Russell found himself overweight and out of work. Now, at age 27, Russell is attempting a comeback, and it might just work too.
His short-lived NFL career was riddled with closets full of mink coats, occasional court appearances and bundles of turnovers — 38 to be exact. His failures stemmed from blatant immaturity, an uninterested attitude and a lack of guidance, which are concerns for most NFL teams. But, this time, he’s ensuring that things will be different.
Sure, Russell weighed in at a mammoth 308 pounds and may require a spot on The Biggest Loser in order to get back into game shape, but he’s still got immense amounts of talent and the big arm that made him a prized prospect in the first place. The biggest factor in his return, though, is that he has surrounded himself with the right group of people this time.
Russell has enlisted the help of former LSU teammate and NFL wide receiver Michael Clayton as a mentor throughout his return process, which is promising given Clayton’s post-football endeavors as a humanitarian. He also has training sessions planned at the TEST Football Academy, where both Patrick Peterson and Joe Flacco worked out to hone their skills.
Beyond that, he has also solicited the help of a number of former NFL players and medical professionals, including Jeff Garcia and Marshall Faulk, to not only get him back in great shape but also to improve his football acumen.
Russell’s immaturity and motivation are still big question marks as he begins his redemption tour, but surrounding himself with such gifted and intelligent football minds is a strong start.
Upon entering the league, the sky was the limit for Russell. While that ceiling may not be quite so limitless anymore, he is still filled with vast amounts of talent. Now, with the help of the such mentors and coaches, maybe he can finally release even some of the talent locked up in that 6-foot-6, formerly 265-pound frame.
Plenty of NFL teams could use help at the quarterback position right now — the list may even extend to half the league. So, while Russell is a big — both literally and physically — risk, the potential reward may be well worth it.