Russell never had a chance


Let’s dispense with the obvious.

JaMarcus Russell bears much of the blame for his demise as an NFL quarterback. By most accounts, he didn’t work hard enough, didn’t care enough, didn’t love football, and had a schedule of extracurricular activities that would make even the young Charles Woodson envious.

He entered the realm of professionals without ever committing to be a professional.

If you want to get sanctimonious about it, Russell is what’s wrong with so many of today’s young athletes. A huge sense of entitlement. A me-first way of thinking. One wonders what he’s going to do with that diamond encrusted figurine of himself in a Raiders uniform with the words “The Chosen One.”

Change it to “The Released One,” perhaps?

Russell got $39 million from the Raiders, he doesn’t need our sympathy, nor does he deserve our scorn.

That belongs to the organization that decided to write the checks.

Let’s see if we can devise a diabolical plan to ruin the future of a No. 1 draft pick. (I choose the word diabolical because it’s an Al Davis favorite _ one he applied to the now defunct Oakland Football Marketing Association in the early days of Raiders blackouts):

— Make sure Russell holds out and misses the entire preseason, and in fact signs a contract after the regular season has already begun.

It’s an especially great idea for a guy who showed himself as a junior, had a minimal amount of college starts and really had only one lights-out game _ against Notre Dame in the Sugar Bowl.

Davis said the reason for the holdout wasn’t his fault, and there is some reason to believe him because the Raiders seldom have holdouts. But the reason he gave was “forfeiture” and making the pick accountable.

As it turned out, the contract was supposed to have a $30 to $32 million guarantee and Russell will walk away with $39 to $40 million for three years of sub-standard play. The whole contract impasse was a waste of time.

— Have Russell walk in to a budding firefight between the owner and coach.

Davis later made it public that Lane Kiffin didn’t want Russell. Those kinds of things go on all the time behind closed doors, but eventually a unified front is presented. You think Jon Gruden loved every draft pick Davis ever made? He hated some of them, but never said it in public. And some of those he hated he learned to love. It’s part of the game.

Russell’s holdout gave Kiffin a year to keep the quarterback on the bench, breaking him in gently at the end of the season. But Davis was upset after a 4-12 year, and wanted more of Russell. The animosity between coach and owner grew, and both of them were at fault for a rift which was destructive to the entire team _ and also served to stunt the development of the supposed franchise quarterback.

— Make sure Russell has plenty of different voices in his head.

First, there was Kiffin as play-caller, with offensive coordinator Greg Knapp. When Kiffin was fired in part because he couldn’t “get over” Russell, Knapp became the play-caller. Tom Cable, with the offensive struggling, stripped Knapp of his duties and called plays himself _ with Russell leading the Raiders to a pair of wins at the end of the 2008 season.

The next season Cable again called plays, but with a new quarterbacks coach in Paul Hackett and a passing game coordinator in Ted Tollner.

Schizophrenics don’t hear as many voices as Russell did in his three years as a Raider.

— Give Russell no guidance in terms of dealing with all the outside issues that go with a being an NFL quarterback, such as dealing with the media.

Here’s how it’s done for any team with a clue in the NFL. Your quarterback stops by his locker to talk on Monday, even if he has a bad game. Especially if he has a bad game.

That way, he hashes over Sunday, takes responsibility, and the focus shifts to the following week. Instead, Russell, unlike Rich Gannon, Kerry Collins, Josh McCown and even Aaron Brooks and Andrew Walter, went into hiding.

By doing that, Russell’s teammates were asked questions about Russell. Since Russell didn’t make himself available until Thursday, much of the week was spent dealing with what was wrong with Russell _ with the quarterback finally answering questions for Friday’s papers (Thursday on the Internet) and the storyline went on all week when it could have been over on Monday.

A team with a clue about how to deal with media relations understands this. Gannon, Collins and other veteran quarterbacks knew it through previous experience. Russell needed to be told. And no one was there to tell him.

There’s every possibility that if the Raiders had provided all the support Russell needed, he still would have been a washout. That he never would have cared enough or dedicated himself enough to succeed.

Yet there are coaches in his background in high school and at LSU that suggest otherwise. They think Russell was an immature talent in need of some guidance, hit a few bumps in the road and went horribly off course.

In that scenario, it would be up to the Raiders to get their investment back on track.

It didn’t happen, and the fact that Russell was cut Thursday was evidence Davis had finally gotten over the fact that it never would.


Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer

  • hwnrdr

    I guess Bo isn’t up yet!!! LOL
    Trade DMac for the Banner!

  • hwnrdr

    You know I heard that Sean payton MAY consider him…but he has to put in the work, the dedication…ok, stop…I guess never again!

  • Grey poupon Dirt-Lot, for $35 Milllion a black Alabama kid won’t eat mayo! Jadumptruck probably has cajun hot sauce on it too.

  • I wouldn’t doubt Shanny might sign him just for the agravation to Al. $1 mil a yr. Then he’ll say he’s just like Elway when he was a rookie & needed the help only Shanny could give (like cheating on the salary cap for 2 yrs).

  • RaiderRockstar

    I think he’ll end up on the Patriots roster.

    they love to pick up ex-raiders and have nobody behind Tom Brady …

    Walter, Sands, Jordan, Gabriel, Moss, Burgess and now Warren

  • Right on, Jerry. You are always the voice of reason. It’s easy to dump on this guy and make up cute nicknames for him — he’s earned and deserves a lot of criticism due to his non-existent work ethic — but things are not that simple. They drafted him young and raw when he had very few starts and only one strong performance. At the time, I was 100% behind the pick and thought he would be great. Instead, he’s been a huge disappointment and set the Raiders back five years. But to put all the blame on him, when he showed promise early on, and when he’s had to deal with an organization in complete turmoil during his tenure, 5 different voices in his head, and no offensive line to speak of, is unfair and inaccurate. Had he been drafted by another organization, he may have had more success. Had he had the character and work ethic of a Jason Campbell (who I think is going to surprise a lot of people if they can surround him with a solid O-line, some decent receivers, and if Hue Jackson sticks around for longer than ten minutes), he would have had more success. I think the last word on JaMarcus has yet to be spoken — the guy is only 24 years old and a huge upside if you take away all that stupid money he was earning and implant some maturity in him. When the pressure’s finally off and he’s in a stable place, he may surprise. I don’t view this guy as a Ryan Leaf. I view him as a young, immature player with talent who got lazy and took his future for granted. Let ye who never had that mindset at age 24 cast the first stone.

    Now let’s enjoy us some Jason Campbell and climb out of the wilderness.

  • M Lonetree

    Raider TW,

    am I recalling correctly from yesterday that you said today is your b’bay? If so, Bon Anniversaire!

  • RaiderRockstar

    Let ye who never had that mindset at age 24 cast the first stone.


    GDC: I had better work ethic at age 16 going to school and working 3:30-8:30 Monday thru Saturday

    these excuses are bogus imo. When you get outplayed by guys like Bruce & Charlie, you either don’t want it, don’t get it or suck. and none of those 3 are acceptable, whether you’re making $6 million for each win or $6 an hour. plain & simple

  • Kirk

    I will be glad when we stop talking about Russell and start talking about Campbell, Mclain, and Bush.

  • M Lonetree

    watching JaBanished lowlites on Chronicle live last night as the cut was being discussed three things stood out.
    all his movements were slow. his recognition was slow. and his reactions were slow.

  • RaiderRockstar

    Pacman Jones & Gibril Wilson are now both officially Cincy Bungles!

  • RaiderRockstar

    Al Davis means business this year. Great draft, great trade for Jason Campbell and then swallowing pride and cutting dead weight in Russell

    Give me Jacksonville in the JaMarcus sweepstakes.

    -Vittorio Tafur (twitter)



  • RaiderRockstar

    does Jason Campbell have the ability to:

    -read a defense?
    -grasp a playbook?
    -throw an accurate screen pass or dumpoff?
    -be on time and AWAKE at meetings?
    -stay in shape?
    -feel a pass rush coming?
    -scramble or throw the ball away?
    -refrain from wearing all the bling, goofy sweaters and haircuts?
    -be a professional (i.e. don’t throw your teammates under the bus or skip mandatory interviews) ?

  • Thanks, Lonetree, RRS, Dakota, me & vegas raider all have (had) Bdays in a 2 week time period.

  • NoMoreFargas

    Can’t wait till the season starts no Russell,Fargas,Morrison,Walker. Call me crazy I would take TO we don’t have a 1 Wr ,no way Chaz is a 1 when he can’t even play a full season.

  • I’m going to celebrate like a JaWalrus would, I’m going to all you can eat sushi!

  • RaiderRockstar

    when I think of immaturity, I think of Jay Cutler.

    when I think of laziness, I think of JaMarcus Russell.

    the difference?

    Cutler threw for over 4500 yards & 25 TD’s in his 3rd NFL season.

    Russell threw for under 1300 yards & 3 TD’s in his 3rd NFL season.



  • RaiderRockstar

    looks like Russell purchased a new ride with that extra $3 million in his pocket …


  • RaiderRockstar

    now that Russell’s NFL career has ended, he has picked up a new hobby:


  • RaiderRockstar

    Russell never really took to Paul Hackett’s coaching style:


  • hwnrdr

    You think anyone would get him out of his laziness? I heard he wanted to open up a chicken franchise? I think he should just wisely invest what he has and stay rich! I mean, his career is over before it began!

  • M Lonetree


    Lackawanna might be a railroad, but it is also an incurable disease in an NFL player.

  • RaiderfanNY

    Fine analysis, Jerry, but you left out a few key things.

    Russell was mediocre — not terrible — in 2008 and was facing a big season, his make-or-break season, in 2009.

    So the Raiders gave him TWO rookie starting wide receivers, one of whom was completely unprepared to play in the NFL.

    How many QBs in the NFL could succeed with two rookie wide outs?

    In addition, Russell’s starting tackles were among the worst in the league. Cornell Green led the league in false starts — constantly putting Russell in second-and-longs and third-and-longs. Henderson gave up the most sacks of all left tackles in the league.

    Clearly, Russell was his own worst enemy.

    But Al Davis, as you point out, never gave him a chance to succeed.

    Now let’s turn our attention to why McFadden can’t get past a single tackler.

  • hwnrdr

    I don’t think that is anyone’s fault there…McFumbles better do something this season!

  • M Lonetree


    did you know that on your birthday (and his 79th) the California State Legislature passed a declaration stating “Willie Mays is the greatest baseball player to have ever lived.”

    no more of this “greatest living ballplayer” crud. facts is facts.

  • SR Raider

    “Russell never had a chance”

    Yes he did. Rookie training camp. Oh wait he missed that. Offseason training? No. Film study? No.

    I’m not even going to bother reading this article. Jerry’s stock with me just plummeted with an asinine headline like that.

  • RaiderRockstar

    DMC better have been working on leg strength & ball security this offseason!

  • RaiderRockstar

    Bradford & Stafford were drafted by horrible teams too.

    do they “have a chance” ?

    I guess Brady Quinn & Trent Edwards “never had a chance” either then, huh ???

  • M Lonetree

    SR Raider,

    a future Jerry Mc posting – “McFadden never had a chance” followed by blah blah blah ’bout blocking and injuries and play calling.

    “I’m a victim of soicumstance!” – Curly Howard

  • Now let’s turn our attention to why McFadden can’t get past a single tackler.


    A jamarkably lucid comment, this.

  • And Cam Inman does a far more entertaining live chat…

  • Dirk Suave

    Oh my god! Will people stop making excuses for JaMarcus. Jesus Christ! He hasn’t earned ANY “good” words from me. Raiders at fault too? HELL NO!! Most of all this falls at JaMarcus’ feet. Don’t give me that “culture” garbage. I agree with the cat that said almost ANY qb wouldve done better than JR. Coach changes you say? Shouldn’t effect your qb. He’s been the “man” for all coaches until he showed he wasn’t. Offense streamlined and playbook simplified yet can’t hit the 5-8 yard flats? Bad line play? At times yes but not entirely. I mean come on. You block well for a few plays then JR throws an INT or worse overthrows the Wr or Te leading to 4thdown. So many 3 and outs land at JR’sfeet. Bad play calling you say? Well if JR had watched his game film maybe we coulda called more plays but JR NEVER changes plays or calls audibles or helps the line presnap. Or works hard to LEARN a play book that didn’t change much from Kiff to Cable. So give me a break. What I really wanted wasfor San Diego todraft Rivers #1 instead of taking Eli so he wouldn’t drop to Raiders. Bastards. At least Marty paid for it by losing his job going 14-2. Lol.
    Anyway JR was given the “keys to the kingdom” and lost them on the flight into Oakland. Or ate them. Made what? At least a good couple mil his first year when he sat? Did you ever hear h having the offense over his crib? Think his house had a film room? Davis blessed JR with FAITH and MONEY. JR gave back nothing. You can’t even say he gave a good effort so how does this fall on Raiders? Hindsight is 20/20 but JR had the money to take the time to devote himself he didn’t. Raiders brought in countless individuals to help mentor/tutor him. A couple wereeven qb guru’s. No change in JR. I am sorry but the only blame that Davis gets is the initial drafting. But Davis gets a pass on it becuase at the time we needed JR. Wait we needed the college JR that was 25-4 in college and actually gave a crap cuz no $$ were present. JR stopped working on his craft the sec he got our $$. And don’t say the Raiders don’t develop talent cuz that’s absurd. We have plenty of DRAFTED guys on the roster in STARTING positions so give me a break. And that weak wrcore everbody likes to dog? Who has Mcnabb had all these years. Only three of his Philly years did he have NFL caliber wr’s. So that front is bogus too. We’ve added weapons every year wth the only suspect one being DHB. Who I feel wouldve looked a ton better if JR wasn’t throwing him the ball. I was all set for Al and Cable to give me Gradkowski but the move for Campbell has refreshed my faith that hadn’t dwindled but had people trying to step
    on it for the last seven years. But I remain unduanted and ready for the rivival of “genuis” Al Davis owner of the Oakland Raiders.

  • RaiderRockstar

    BSJ: I have been assured by McFadden’s baby mamas that he’s been working hard this offseason and now has kung fu grip – whatever that means!

  • RaiderRockstar

    that has something to do with ball security, right?

  • They meant a kung fu grip on his $$$$$, unfortunately.

  • RaiderRockstar

    Working people frequently ask retired people what they do to make their days interesting. Well, for example, the other day my wife and I went into town and went into a shop. We were only in there for about 5 minutes. When we came out, there was a cop writing out a parking ticket.
    We went up to him and said, ‘Come on man, how about giving a senior citizen a break?’

    He ignored us and continued writing the ticket. I called him a Nazi Storm Trooper. He glared at me and started writing another ticket for having worn tires.
    So my wife called him a knucklehead. He finished the second ticket and put it on the windshield with the first. Then he started writing a third ticket. This went on for about 20 minutes. The more we abused him, the more tickets he wrote.

    Personally, we didn’t care. We came into town by bus and the car had an Obama sticker.

    We try to have a little fun each day now that we’re retired. It’s important at our age.

  • SR Raider

    McFadden was just overhyped and hasn’t been used correctly. Bush should be the #1 back, with McFadden in there for a change of pace or as a motion back. He’ll be fine, and is in no way like japorky.

    btw – the same is true for DHB. If you consider Murphy the #1 pick and DHB the #4, they’re both doing all right. Not great, but all right. Why does it matter how they got here?

    If the Raiders hadn’t had such a solid draft, I would be singing a differnt tune. But they seem to have learned from recent mistakes.

  • RaiderRockstar

    We need 4 QB’s for OTA’s, which start up in less than 2 weeks.

    Bruce is still recovering …

    Campbell, Frye, Boller and ???

    should we sign somebody to actually compete for a 3rd stringer job like Jon Kitna, Joey Harrington or J.P. Losman or just go with somebody we know doesn’t have a chance like Tui or Jeff Otis?

  • M Lonetree


    to paraphrase – there are five possible outcomes from giving the ball to DMc and only one of them is okay.

    1) he’ll fall down on his own
    2) he’ll go down at an opponent’s first contact
    3) he’ll cough up the ball
    4) he’ll get injured
    5) he’ll gain 3.4 yards

    (please burn some incense for Hue Jack to work miracles)

  • And McFadden has really improved his lower body:


  • RaiderRockstar

    If the Raiders hadn’t had such a solid draft, I would be singing a differnt tune. But they seem to have learned from recent mistakes.


    except for run defense.

    sign John Henderson!

  • SR Raider Says:
    May 7th, 2010 at 7:38 am
    McFadden was just overhyped and hasn’t been used correctly.


    Correct. He should be used as trade bait.

  • RaiderRockstar

    BSJ: I don’t get why you’re so bitter about DMAC.

    you know he’ll eventually get hurt and our 3 backs will be Bush, Bennett & Cartwright … and Edgerrin James & Brian Westbrook are still available in free agency 🙂

  • the_big_one_of_83

    westbrook is a head case

  • the_big_one_of_83

    he has taken to many hits but i love his game when he is healthy

  • BigTed707

    We need a FB before another HB imo. y’know, run a little, catch a few, BLOCK…

  • RaiderRockstar Says:
    May 7th, 2010 at 7:45 am
    BSJ: I don’t get why you’re so bitter about DMAC.

    you know he’ll eventually get hurt


    Because we play Ryan Clady twice a year.