“His field vision is terrible, his attitude questionable, his grasping of NFL defenses atrocious. He throws into double coverage all the time, rarely looks off receivers and holds onto the ball waaaay too long.” But other than that, JaMarcus Russell isn’t all bad, right? Surely he’s kind to small animals and children? “Boys Will Be Boys” author Jeff Pearlman runs through a laundry list of failures (Heath Schuler! Browning Nagle! Mike Pagel) while declaring his devotion for the embattled Oakland QB. Or more accurately, “I love how absolutely, positively terrible he is.”
Despite it all, I don™t blame JaMarcus Russell himself. This is, without question, the fault of the Oakland Raiders, who wisely selected the gifted LSU Tiger with the No. 1 pick in the 2007 Draft, then surrounded him with the biggest mess since Starr Jones™ wedding party. Coaches come and go; offenses are predictable; drafts are wasted on semi-OK prospects praised for their speed (at the expense of, say, good hands). Had Russell been allowed to learn from, say, a Mike Tomlin or Marvin Lewis or Mike Shanahan, things might be drastically different. Maybe he™s on the bench, taking notes. Maybe he™s gradually groomed.
But now, in 2009, he simply looks like a bust. A very big bust.