JaMarcus Russell talks with S.I. about Raiders career, rumors, life after NFL


More than a year has passed since the Raiders released quarterback JaMarcus Russell, the No. 1 pick of the 2007 NFL draft. In the past 20 months, numerous rumors have surfaced about Russell being broke, fired by his life coach and headed down a bad path.

Well, for the first time, Russell consented to an interview to address those things, and more. The feature comes out in this week’s issue of Sports Illustrated. Here are some excerpts of the interview, as provided by Sports Illustrated:

Russell said part of his struggles arose from dealing with the death of 11 family members or friends, including uncle and father figure Ray Ray:

“I went through so much no one knew about. Go to a funeral on Saturday, fly into the game on Sunday. Then I hear, ‘He doesn’t lead by example.’ Really?”

Russell says he was betrayed by then-coach Tom Cable:

“I stuck my neck out for him. Didn’t complain when he benched me as the starter. Didn’t complain when he called the same plays five damn times. Didn’t [badmouth] him to other coaches. When the [media] asks me, I say, ‘He’s a good coach, a good guy.’ Then I hear he says I was the worst thing ever happened to the Raiders, if it weren’t for him we’d be in the playoffs?… It just got to where the game wasn’t fun for me.”

Russell said he received more than his share of blame for the Raiders struggles:

“The lack of support from his teammates: “Things weren’t going right, and it felt sometimes like everything fell back on me. I take some responsibility, but I was one guy…. I may have missed a throw, but I didn’t give up 42 points, I didn’t miss a block.”

Also, Russell said he has used some of the $39 million or so he was paid by the Raiders — $32 million was guaranteed — on charitable deeds in his hometown of Mobile, Ala.

Those things include: paying for turkeys at Thanksgiving food drives, purchasin supplies and library books for local schools and uniforms for local sports teams, underwriting the renovation for his church, building ramps for wheelchair-bound residents and rewarding kids with straight A’s with bikes, MP3 players and GoPhones.

“If I do go broke, it’s going to be from providing for my neighborhood and my family.” So why isn’t his charitable work more publicized? “My business is my business. That’s how I prefer it. I gotta look up to God. I don’t gotta look out to no damn news cameras!”

On reports that he slept during team meetings with the Raiders, Russell had this to say:

“In the NFL, my first year, I had to be there at 6:30 before practice and be on the treadmill for an hour. Then meetings come, I sit down, eat my fruit. We watch film, and maybe I got tired. Coach Flip [quarterback coach John DeFilippo] pulled me aside and said, ‘What are you doing for night life?’ I said, ‘Coach, I’m just chilling.’ He said, ‘I need to get you checked out.’ I did the sleep test, and they said I had apnea.”

Life coach John Lucas told Sports Illustrated that he did’t fire Russell.

“I don’t know where that [report] came from. JaMarcus is a good kid, I’m telling you, who just needs to find his motivation. But we still talk. Have him tell you about his sleep apnea. A lot [of his issues] come from that. And no one knows it.”

Russell denied being broke, too.

“Football isn’t paying me now. You make $1 million a game and you can do whatever. It’s not like that anymore; I need to put myself in a place where those zeroes in the bank last for a long time. But I’m not broke. Far from it.”

As for what the future holds, Russell said:

“I’ll keep moving, man. But what if I don’t make it back to the NFL? I’ll be O.K. Being a competitor, I feel like I have unfinished business. Like, ‘It can’t end like this.’ But want to know the truth? I know that the game don’t owe me a damn thing.”

Follow me on Twitter: @corkonthenfl


Steve Corkran

  • RaiderSam

    Put simply, this is an attempt at garnering sympathy at the cost of a bad draft pick and low work ethic. He was simply not ready to compete at the NFL level and put the work in, and the Raiders didnt background check Russell (to check for apnea and codeine addiction) or have a plan in place to develop him due to the coaching turnover and equally bad free agents. In hindsight, the better pick might have been Calvin Johnson, who went exactly one pick later. ..I’d also like to add the really cool idea to have an SI cover for JaMarcus Russell but none of Al Davis, who helped make the merger happen and evolve the current NFL landscape.

  • joker94583

    Still is and always will be the worst thing to ever happen to the Raiders. The guy is as dumb as a fence post. LOSER! Al’s biggest mistake. I have no sympathy for this waste of human flesh.

  • Stickem

    Lemme get this straight… JaThargic Russell says it’s all the Raiders fault – players, coaches, and management.

    Then why, prey tell us JaCarcass, WHY is it no other NFL bothered to give you a chance?

    Surely if it was all on the Raiders, you could flourish elsewhere, no?

    Lookie here, fat boy, Reggie White DIED of sleep apnea, yet no one ever said it effected his play on Sundays… why did it effect you this way?

    Lemme see… large amounts of codeine make you sleepy and have an adverse effect on your respiration… it is what it is.

    Hope JaCarcass gets honest one day, before he ends up with a tag on his toe…

  • stablersbeard

    Hey… JaCarcass…. Everyone said you sucked and were an idiot because you sucked and were an idiot.
    Cable called the same play 5 times in a row? Maybe that’s because you were too stupid to learn more than 4 plays.
    You’re as dumb as a bowl of mice and no amount of finger pointing is going to change that.
    You were fat, lazy and the game moved way too fast for your low IQ to keep up with at the NFL level.

    Maybe you didn’t miss any blocks or give up 48 points, but you DID stand there in the pocket like a complete imbecile waiting for someone to hit your fat, slow-motion arse and strip the ball. When they didn’t, you usually managed to launch a ridiculous looking pass in some totally unpredictable direction.

    What a damned moron….

  • qodrn

    SI is putting this idiot on the cover? Good grief.

  • fingers

    I’ve seen enough of JaFloppus for a lifetime….I don’t think we need any ” how’s JaFlubber doing” articals..

  • dbaz09

    I think he meant to say that “He doesn’t owe the game a d*** thing”… that’s classic. Sad part is he probably represents Davis biggest disappointment over the last 20 years. And to think that if Al had listened to Kiffin we probably would have drafted Megatron and, maybe, pulled off a trade for Rodgers. Wow, what a turn of events that would have been…

  • GG

    To me it sounds like PR to repair his image and attempt to get back into the NFL.

  • jtruraider702

    Wow! This guy is an effing joke. It sounds to me like he is broke and making the same old tired excuses he made while he was a Raider. Uhh uhh yea Ive made contributions to my town and coach Cable had it out for me, please dude grow the eff up and take responsiblity for your lack of self disciplne and motivation. You were given the tools to be a success from the god up above….stop hiding behind him and be a man.

  • adressinghaters

    I would like to see any of you deal with 11 deaths in a short period of time and actually give a dam about football. You can’t know what he was going through so you should’nt judge. As far as the $$ he received, you fans should take a look at who’s bright idea it was to pay him that much. Was his stability and reliability really investigated. Or were decisions made based on stats alone? Maybe he didn’t try his hardest…maybe he did, but until we walk a mile in his shoes it’s best to keep negative comments to ourselves. One thing is for sure, he was not soley responsible for poor seasons. If I’m not mistaken, he was not on defense….is he somehow responsible for letting opposing teams score??? I agree that his career was a bust and he should be accountable to that fact, but to take ownership for the entire sorry organization sucking???? uhhhm not so much!