JaMarcus Russell: Self-proclaimed biggest NFL Draft bust

HOUSTON - OCTOBER 04: Quarterback JaMarcus Russell #2 of the Oakland Raiders at Reliant Stadium on October 4, 2009 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
HOUSTON - OCTOBER 04: Quarterback JaMarcus Russell #2 of the Oakland Raiders at Reliant Stadium on October 4, 2009 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /

Former Oakland Raider and first round pick overall JaMarcus Russell rarely makes media appearances anymore. The newest episode of the “Pivot” podcast on July 12, 2022 featured Russell and he provided some insight into his former career.

JaMarcus Russell is known as one of the biggest busts of all time in the National Football League. Russell was drafted first overall in the 2007 NFL Draft by the Oakland Raiders.

Russell held out of training camp his rookie season due to contract issues and it was downhill from that point on.

Russell showed distractibility, a failure to prepare, and an overall poor work ethic. On top of the aforementioned issues Russell had an addiction to “sizzurp” or “lean” which is a mixture of codeine and soda.

Russell’s lifestyle choices did not meet the expectations of an NFL quarterback, let alone an NFL quarterback that was selected first overall in the draft. Russell was released in 2010 and was arrested shortly after for possession of codeine.

On July 12, 2022 Russell appeared on the “Pivot Podcast” to tell his story. Throughout the interview Russell admitted to certain incidents, specifically the famous story about Russell being assigned to watch film.

Russell confirmed the coaching staff provided him with blank tapes supposedly containing game film for him to study to see if he actually watched it. Coaches would report that Russell would return to the facility the following day and act as if he watched the film assigned.

The majority of the interview is Russell telling various stories throughout his brief tenure in the NFL trying to create the narrative that the system worked against him.

Russell continuously circles back to the point that the Raiders did not actually want him in the first place. There is some truth to this story. Raiders owner Al Davis was infatuated with Russell’s size, strong arm, and a phenomenal pro day.

Head Coach Lane Kiffin and the majority of the team scouts preferred wide receiver Calvin Johnson, who we would later know better as “Megatron.”

In the episode Russell references current Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr and wide receiver Davante Adams; “The guy they got there now [the Raiders], they’re for him. They went and got a receiver that goddamn catch whatever you throw at him. And stuff to go along with it.”

At one point co-host Ryan Clark asks JaMarcus Russell if he considers himself to be the biggest bust in NFL draft history.

Russell responds stating “if you’re going to call me a bust at least put the biggest on there,” and adds that if he is the biggest he must have been “one of the best.” Clearly Russell is reaching for any type of positive acknowledgement despite the connotation that comes with that title.

Towards the conclusion of the podcast episode Russell reveals that despite having no more opportunities in the league he still believes if he got back in shape there are not 32 quarterbacks better than him.

Russell stated he is currently coaching football and mentoring young football players.

Despite the many excuses and stories Russell divulges within the podcast episode in the end his failure came from his own choices. Perhaps he was not surrounded with the best roster, and it is fair to point out not everyone in the Raiders facility wanted him there.

However in the end the team wants to win above all things and the only person that torpedoed Russell’s chances for success within the NFL was Russell himself.