Is Russell, Davis or the NFL to Blame?

Who is to blame for one of the biggest draft busts of all-time?


JaMarcus Russell? Is the 300 pound quarterback to blame for his career demise?


While it certainly is an easy case to make, many others have blamed the Raiders organization, mainly Al Davis for drafting Russell and giving him $30 million guaranteed. Is Al Davis to blame for JaMarcus Russell being a bust?


Or is the problem not the pawns, but the rules of the game? The NFL setup a system in which a rookie player without one snap of NFL experience is handed gobs of cash. Are they to blame?


Emotions run hot on this subject.


Russell was drafted first overall to a team which hadn’t had a winning record in four seasons. He had a wealth of raw talent and he can throw a football 84 yards in the air.


We don’t sympathize with Russell, he got $39 million for nothing, right? Why sympathize with a millionaire that didn’t work hard for it?


Russell won the lottery and his plight isn’t a whole lot different than many lottery winners. For an interesting read on the subject check out this article from MSN money.


A sudden shift is wealth isn’t easy to handle, especially not for a 21-year-old poor college kid from Alabama.


Lump the pressures of being an NFL quarterback and becoming the savior of a troubled franchise too it and it becomes a little harder to pin the blame for JaMarcus’ failure on JaMarcus.


Would things be different if Russell hadn’t received all that guaranteed money? No one knows. The production may have ended up being about the same, but would people consider him a huge bust and call him lazy? Would his weight be a hot topic from week-to-week as it has been for the past three years? Probably not.


Things might have turned out differently for JaMarcus if he hadn’t been handed so much money. Who handed it to him? That would be Al Davis. Is he to blame for JaMarcus’ plight? Did he ignore the warning signs?


Partially, I think Davis is responsible for JaMarcus. The key to drafting in the NFL is not to just find the best athletes, but to find the best athletes with the best possible chance of keeping their head after being handed millions. One of Davis’ many flaws is placing too much value on the physical aspects of a player, ignoring chemistry, position fit, and everything else.


Now remove JaMarcus and Davis from the equation, if the Raiders draft JaMarcus first overall and the system in place doesn’t allow for rookies to make guaranteed money until they prove something on the field. If that is the case, does JaMarcus put the work needed to develop in hopes of landing the huge payday? We may never know.


I do know this:


1 –  Someone tells me they will pay me $1 million a year *if* I put in the work for three years and perform to their standard and at the end of those three years, if I do that, I will make $36 more millions. You can bet your ass I’d work my tail off. $1 million is nice, but if I work my tail off I have a chance to set my family up as well.


2 – Someone tells me they will give me $30 million today *if* I put in the required work *no performance required*. I can tell you I’d do whatever I was contractually obligated to do, but I can’t guarantee you I’d work my tail off. I’d like to think I would, but I’m not sure. What is my motivation to do more? Fame? I don’t desire fame. More money? I just got $39 million for nothing. Maybe I would, but I’m not in that situation. I have no idea how I’d react.


Russell was ill-equipped to handle what was thrown at him. He hasn’t worked out for the Raiders and for that Russell, Davis and the NFL share equal blame.


Russell has taken the majority of the bruising from the media and fans, Davis has taken a hit as well, enough for people to forget all that he has done for the league and the Raiders. The NFL hasn’t taken a hit nearly enough on this issue. People put it like this, “JaMarcus Russell is the reason why the NFL needs a rookie wage scale.”


While this may be true, it is overly negative towards Russell. The NFL needs a rookie wage scale to prevent another JaMarcus Russell.


It isn’t popular to defend JaMarcus Russell and I only intend to defend him personally and his position in his own downfall, not his play.


If and when JaMarcus is cut, I root for him. I hope he goes out and proves the haters wrong. I love the underdog and there is no bigger underdog in sports than JaMarcus Russell.






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