Russell caught sipping the Sizzurp

Former high draft pick QB JaMarcus Russell’s life away from the gridiron got even worse after his recent arrest for the “Sizzurp”

Those thinking that any day the NY Jets or some other team might soon be calling former NFL quarterback JaMarcus Russell’s representatives, may have a longer wait than expected.  The bizarre case of one of the NFL Draft’s biggest busts just got worse as the former first overall pick in the 2008 NFL Draft was arrested in Alabama for possession of Codeine Cough Syrup aka “The Sizzurp”.

Surprisingly, Russell had lingered on the sidelines for months after the Oakland Raiders released back in April and he was supposedly in Arizona while “Getting in Shape”.  But several reports had placed him around his hometown of Mobile, Alabama and I guess the only shape he was getting into was an “Unconscious” one. 

For years, people on Oakland’s staff had labeled their former anointed franchise starter as lazy, aloof, and sometimes semi-conscious and maybe they finally found the reason why.  “The Sizzurup” like marijuana and painkillers – drugs that have been around NFL teams way before Russell was born — is just another escape mechanism. 

I guess Russell was using the substance to get away from the pain of being the punchline to so many draft bust jokes.  And let’s face it, the jokes were aplenty considering Russell accepted close to $37 Million from the Raiders while producing disappointing numbers — career starting record of 7-18 with numbers 354-680, 52.1%, 4083 yards, 18 TDs, and 23 INTs

Right now much like former NFL high-priced substance abusers – Jason Peter, Quincy Carter, Joe Gilliam, Cris Carter, and many others — Russell is at a career crossroads.  He can either look internally in order to get the help he needs to clean is act up to start the long road back to resume his once bright career or fall off into the Sports / Drugs Abyss that has claimed many an athlete. 

However I am not just ready to give-up on the very talented former LSU star.  Russell’s biggest problem had always been a lack of effort in terms of practice and reading his playbook and this is the first incident where he had been linked to off-the-field misconduct. 

The hefty high-RPM throwing passer still is young enough at 24 years old that his NFL career and life still has many unwritten chapters — still has the legal system and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to answer to.  Though it it is not the same cirmcumstances, he may want to contact soon to be Hall of Famer Kurt Warner to talk with a quarterback who was once at bottom of football’s Quarterback Scrap Heap only to make it back to the top.

Here’s hoping that Russell can get some help and get a football career back on track that once had pro personnel evaluators drooling at his famed Pro Day workout.

 

 

Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and Sports Journey Network , who is also an award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)

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Former Raiders QB JaMarcus Russell at a Crossroads

It is either time to work or assume his spot next to Ryan Leaf as the NFL Draft’s “Biggest Bust Ever” for former Raiders quarterback JaMarcus Russell

After the Oakland Raiders’ Draft Day trade for former Redskins quarterback Jason Campbell, it was only a matter of time before “Too Much, Too Soon” poster player JaMarcus Russell was going to be cut. 

The inevitable finally came last week as the Raiders — only scored 197 points (31st in NFL) and 17 touchdowns (tied for 32nd) in 2009 — decided to part ways with Russell.  Parting seemed to be mutual, but the worst part for the Raiders of getting rid of their former franchise quarterback was that the team had paid the kingly ransom of $39 Million Dollars over three inglorious years to Russell — roughly $100,000 per completion or $5.6 million per win. 

Hard to believe, Russell in only 3 years in the NFL sank quickly from a Pro Day performance that many called the best ever to “Ryan Leaf” comparisons.  Back at his Pro Day, former Oakland Raiders head coach Lane Kiffin — who some say Russell got fired – was smitten with his future first rounder. 

The one-year Raiders’ coach said, “Obviously, I’m very impressed. We were very impressed. He had a great day. He seems very first class, very easy to get along with. No doubt he was a great leader here. That’s why everybody wants him now.”  The Raiders drafted Russell with the first pick of the 2007 NFL Draft and then signed their perceived future star to a six-year contract worth up to $68 million which included $31.5 million guaranteed at the time.

However as great of a fall that Russell has had in his short time in the NFL, I am not ready to brand him the “Biggest Draft Bust Ever” and say he has no chance.  “Not So Fast My Friends”…as the NFL, especially at the quarterback position, is all about second and sometimes third chances. There are numerous examples of former one-time flameout quarterbacks that became Super Bowl champions later in their careers — Trent Dilfer (Ravens), Kurt Warner (Rams), Jim Plunkett (Raiders), Brad Johnson (Bucs), and Doug Williams (Redskins). 

Astonishingly, even arguably the greatest quarterback ever, Hall of Famer Johnny Unitas, was once left on the NFL’s scrap heap by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1955.  The Steelers cut their former 9th-round draft pick, leaving him to play sandlot football, before he later found greatness with the Baltimore Colts, starting in 1956.

In each and every case,  every single one of the quarterbacks received a second opportunity to show the world that they still had what it took to succeed in the National Football League. I am not saying that Russell – 2009 numbers of 120-246, 48.8%, 1287 yards, 3 TDs, and 11 INTs in 9 games started (2-7 record) —  is the next Unitas , Williams, or even David Carr (still earning a check with the Niners), but he does deserve is another chance away from Al Davis. 

There is a fork in the road and Russell, who some Raiders’ fans have derisively called “Fat Albert” (300-pound QB), can either take the money and run (Leaf) or write a few more successful chapters in his NFL career (Warner), but it is all up to him. The former first overall pick has been blessed with all of the talent in the world, including a rifle of a right arm and there is no denying that Russell — career starting record of 7-18 with numbers 354-680, 52.1%, 4083 yards, 18 TDs, and 23 INTs – has “potential” but that can be a dirty word in NFL circles and it can only take you so far. 

There are apparently more than five NFL teams contemplating signing Russell to a training camp “Make Good” contract.  Some of the teams rumored to have interest in the former Alabama native are the Washington Redskins, Chicago Bears, Jacksonville Jaguars, Cincinnati Bengals – Ochocinco already Tweeting about it – and surprisingly the Indianapolis Colts.  

No matter which team signs Russell, it is now time for the hefty thrower to go to work.  In the past, he has been his own biggest obstacle. As he was notably many times the first Raiders’ player leave practice and film study after many time being the last one in the door.  The former LSU star needs to show the NFL that he is not indifferent or the lazy “Fat Cat” that some have labeled him after his much-publicized underachievement. 

Plain and simple, if he doesn’t want to be the star of the NFL Network’s “Top 10 Draft Busts Ever” show, Russell has to now look in the mirror and commit himself to bouncing back.  He has to get in shape and commit to being an NFL quarterback or he will be out of the league quicker than you can say, “Cade McNown”.

Russell’s “Redemption Road” is a long one, but there are plenty of examples to show him how to pick himself up and succeed.  If I were Russell’s agent, I would work hard to place him with the Colts or Redskins as working with Peyton Manning or Donovan McNabb maybe the best motivator to save the former high draft pick from a regretful path headed for Arena Football or worse yet the local Arby’s. 

 

Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and Sports Journey Network , who is also an award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)

Hopefully the signing of QB Kyle Boller will be a motivational tool for Russell

You have to wonder if the Raiders are trying to send a message to “underachiever” JaMarcus Russell with the signing of experienced backup QB Kyle Boller

After a season where quarterback JaMarcus Russell produced numbers of 120-246, 48.8%, 1287 yards, 3 TDs, and 11 INTs in 9 games started (2-7 record), the Raiders are looking for anything to motivate their “underachieving” passer.  Possibly with motivating Russell in mind, Oakland recently announced that they had signed another “big arm” passer in quarterback Kyle Boller — career numbers 844-1487, 56.8%, 8745 yards, 48 TDs, and 50 INTs. 

The signing of the former Ravens first rounder (19th overall) from back in 2003 was partly necessary because backup Bruce Gradkowski tore a pectoral muscle while lifting weights.  But clearly Raiders owner Al Davis wants to ensure that Russell has more competition than journeyman backup Charlie Frye.  Boller (28) appeared in seven games for the St. Louis Rams last season, making four starts while throwing 3 touchdowns to 6 interceptions, finishing with a passer rating of 61.2. 

However much like Russell, the former Cal star quarterback is known for his extremely strong arm – some scouts still talk about his throws through the goalpost from 50 yards out while kneeling – but he also has been highly inconsistent throughout his 7-year career.  Boller has started 46 of 60 games in his NFL career – record of (20-26) — with his best season in 2004, when he started every game in leading the Ravens to a 9-7 record while passing for 2,559 yards with 13 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.   

You would think that Russell, the  former first overall pick of the 2007 NFL Draft, would already be motivated by his contract — signed in September 2007 for six-years with a contract worth up to $68 million which includes $31.5 million guaranteed – but according to “insiders” that is not the case. There have been rampant league rumors that Russell is the first to leave practice, doesn’t study enough film, and would rather “eat” than put in the work to fulfill his boundless potential.   

The whole Raiders organization has tried to put a lid on any negative Russell talk, but you can tell that head coach Tom Cable is not his quarterback’s biggest fan. Cable recently said of Russell, “He’s here. He’s working. He’s doing everything that everybody else is doing. … That’s all I can tell you”… Wow that is some glowing praise from your team’s head coach. 

However a new revelation in Oakland is that after 3 years of waiting, including a rookie year holdout that went into the regular season, surprisingly Raiders owner and patriarch Al Davis seems to be reaching his limits with his overpriced star.  Which is a far cry from the man in the black jumpsuit constantly sticking by his hefty quarterback to the point that he would rather chide coaches — fired Lane Kiffin and has repeatedly told a reluctant Cable that he has to work with Russell – than criticize his handpicked franchise quarterback.  But after a season where the Raiders offense only scored 197 points (31st in NFL) and 17 touchdowns (tied for 32nd), maybe enough is enough.

The Raiders went out and brought-in former Ravens quarterbacks coach Hue Jackson to fill the dual role of offensive coordinator and Russell tutor.  And just maybe Russell might finally be “Getting It” that 2010 is a make or break season for him. The former LSU star has been working out this offseason in Arizona in hopes of shedding weight (reportedly down to 290) and changing people’s minds that he is the biggest bust in NFL Draft history. 

We will see what the Raiders will do with the 8th overall pick in the upcoming draft — who knows what Davis will do maybe OL, WR, QB.  And the 2010 regular season is an even bigger mystery as Oakland will be attempting to have a winning season for the first time since 2002, which is also their last playoff appearance. 

Luckily for Russell — career starting record of 7-18 with numbers 354-680, 52.1%, 4083 yards, 18 TDs, and 23 INTs – and the rest of the Raiders,  there is no place to go but up from here.

 

 

Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and Sports Journey Network , who is also an award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)

2009 NFL Training Camp Questions – AFC West

Denver Broncos

How will the Broncos many offseason pick-ups including 14 unrestricted free agents fit together?

Is young 32-year old head coach Josh McDaniels already on the hot seat for his flare-up and trade of former franchise quarterback Jay Cutler?

Are there enough backfield carries to go around in the Broncos’ crowded backfield (Correll Buckhalter, LaMont Jordan, first round pick Knowshon Moreno, and RB/FB Peyton Hillis?)

Will the Broncos be able to workout a new contract for malcontent Pro Bowl WR Brandon Marshall and if he doesn’t get his new contract how much of a distraction will he be this season?

Will the addition of Pro Bowl S Brian Dawkins and four defensive draft picks helps a defense that allowed 448 points during the 2008 season?

Kansas City Chiefs

Is new head coach Todd Haley ready to lead a Chiefs team that only won two games during the 2008 season?

Will high-priced running back Larry Johnson continue being a good soldier or is there a flare-up waiting to happen when he doesn’t get his carries?

Was new Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassell a one-year wonder for the Patriots or is he ready to make the leap to the Pro Bowl after being traded to the Chiefs?

Is there a tight end on the Chiefs current roster that can replace future Hall of Famer Tony Gonzalez?

Will the addition of LB Mike Vrabel and first round pick DE Tyson Jackson help a defense that allowed 440 points during the 2008 season?

Oakland Raiders

How secure is head coach Tom Cable’s job even though Al Davis removed the “interim” from his title this offseason and can he turn around a Raiders team that has gone 24-72 since the 2003 season?

How will the addition of veteran quarterback Jeff Garcia affect developing former first overall pick QB JaMarcus Russell and is the 3rd year pro mature enough to lead the Raiders?

Are there enough backfield carries to go around in the Raiders’ crowded backfield (Justin Fargas, Michael Bush, Darren McFadden and Gary Russell)?

Did the Raiders reach for rookies WR Darius Heyward-Bey and SS Mike Mitchell and how will the youngsters reach to the high expectations placed on them?

Will new Raiders defensive coordinator John Marshall be able to replace fiery departed DC Rob Ryan (Cleveland Browns) and will the Raiders defense be better than the 388 points they allowed in 2008?

San Diego Chargers

After a great run at the end of the 2008 season where the Chargers won a playoff game can head coach Norv Turner now relax about losing his job?

How healthy is now 30-year old RB LaDanian Tomlinson and does he have a rebound season left in him after barely getting 1,000 rushing yards in 2008?

Will the return of Pro Bowl LB Shawn Merriman from injury and the drafting of first round pick LB Larry English help to bring the Chargers defense back to their high standards of 2006?

Is Pro Bowl Chargers quarterback Phillip Rivers ready to take his career to the next and get his team to the AFC Championship game and beyond?

Will there be enough balls to go around for an offense that features L.T, Pro Bowl TE Antonio Gates, emerging WR Vincent Jackson, WR Chris Chambers, and newly franchised RB Darren Sproles? 

 

Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and an award winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)

Perrilloux Tries to Resurrect his College Career at Jacksonville State (AL)

Troubled former LSU quarterback Ryan Perrilloux has signed on as a transfer with Jacksonville State (AL) for the 2008 NCAA season.

May 19, 2008

(Philadelphia, Pa) —  In some good news, talented but troubled  former #1 prep player quarterback Ryan Perrilloux has officially transferred to Jacksonville State (AL). By now everyone knows that Perrilloux after numerous infractions was  kicked off LSU’s national championship team this spring. 

There is no doubt that the 21-year old Louisiana native has enormous talent (championship pedigree, strong arm, and dual-threat ability), as shown by his MVP performance in the 2007 SEC Championship game, but it is now time for him to mature and take advantage of the opportunity given to him by the Gamecocks. Jacksonville State is a Football Championship Subdivision level team (former 1-AA), so Perrilloux will have two years of eligibility to measure up his huge prep level clippings.

Jacksonville State coach Jack Crowe, who handed the starting job to the former LSU prized recruit after doing his investigation said, “I think he’s been an immature player, and I think he’s been a very, very, very frustrated player”.  Crowe added  “He’s got a national championship ring and a love for LSU. He’s not a tainted person with a tainted feeling. He just made mistakes, admitted them and moved on”. 

I truly hope that Perrilloux has grown up and is ready to take the steps needed on and off the field to make it to the next level.  Hopefully he has learned something from how Tavaris Jackson went from Arkansas to Alabama State to the NFL as a 2nd round by the Minnesota Vikings.  Perrilloux has two years left in college, so I will be monitoring his progress

Lloyd’s Leftovers

 — Former Georgia Tech star quarterback Joe Hamilton, who had been just hired on April 28th to a position of assistant coach in the player personnel department, has resigned his position at the school after he was charged with marijuana possession, driving under the influence of alcohol and hit-and-run.  GA Tech Paul Johnson in announcing the resignation said about Hamilton, “I know he has great love and concern for this program and always will.” LV’s Take: Hamilton can recover from this situation, but it is a shame.  The former Heisman runner-up could have been very valuable to the option offense that Johnson is bringing from the Naval Academy.

— The Falcons have for sure moved on from the Michael Vick era with the selection of Matt Ryan.  Falcons’ owner Arthur Blank recently said “Michael (Vick) is in jail” and “We don’t know how long that will be for. We don’t know what physical and mental condition he’ll be in when he gets out. … Selecting Matt Ryan was the important way to do that.”   LV’s Take: The real fun will begin when Vick is released, which is expected sometime in 2009.

—  Raiders QB JaMarcus Russell showedd up at minicamp in shape at 269 pounds and should have better stamina this season. LV’s Take: Hopefully now all of the talking heads will finally put to rest all the 300 pound rumors and the big quarterback eating his way out of the NFL stories.  The kid has a huge upside and I think this season you see him go vertical to all of the speedsters that  Al Davis has assembled.

— Vikings quarterback Tarvaris Jackson got a strong vote of confidence from his center Matt Birk on the radio station KFAN.  Birk said of his growing young passer “This is the year,” and “Do I think he has what it takes? Absolutely! Is it going to be ups and downs, bumps in the road? Absolutely. But I think he’s coming along. … I think he’s got what it takes. Obviously, it’s a big year for him and a big year for us, but I feel very good with him being our quarterback.”  LV’s Take:  As long as Jackson hands off to all-world running back Adrian Peterson, he will be okay.  But he better watch for competition from Vikings draft pick John David Booty.