Lately it feels like all of us football fans have been put on JaMarcus Russell watch. If you haven't heard, the former No. 1 overall pick in the 2007 NFL draft has been working vigorously on a triumphant return to the world of football. Thanks to the hard work he's put in at TEST Football Academy, a rejuvenated 265-pound Russell has burst back onto the scene looking for a second chance—a second chance that should be with the Minnesota Vikings.
When you talk about a potential marriage between JaMarcus Russell and the Vikings, three major factors stand out most. For starters, it's not really a secret that there is a severe lack of "good" quarterback prospects floating around the the league right now.
Secondly, does the name McLeod Bethel-Thompson strike fear in anyone's heart? And lastly, Russell, at this stage of his life, finally seems to have a real desire to become a better football player and, more importantly, a better person.
You can't emphasize it enough: The sheer absence of quality quarterbacks available in the NFL right now makes Russell an interesting option for Minnesota. It's rare that a team gets to find a 6'6", 265-pound quarterback with a military-grade bazooka for an arm who's just 27 years old. For a franchise that has given guys like Brad Johnson, Tarvaris Jackson and Gus Frerotte a chance to play, bringing in Russell to try to earn a roster spot doesn't seem like such a crazy idea.
Whether it was his lack of accuracy (Russell has a career completion percentage of 52.1 percent), his struggles in the pocket or his battle with weight, the fact remains that we don't know how much of that was attributed to laziness, poor coaching and personal issues—and that's something we will never get the answer to unless he earns himself a chance to show us what he's made really of.
With Joe Webb moving to wide receiver and the name McLeod Bethel-Thompson not scaring anybody, a player like Russell could benefit from the stability the Vikings' organization possesses, and over time, he could grow into a quality backup QB for the team. People don't talk about it nearly as much as they should, but in professional sports, you can never underestimate the power of a solid organization.
During his brief stay in Oakland, Russell was the victim of constant franchise turmoil and soap opera-like drama created by Al Davis. Credit general manager Rick Spielman and head coach Leslie Frazier for building a concrete environment in Minnesota where players can thrive and improve. A culture like that can help turn careers around in a hurry—especially for a guy like Russell.
Drafted No. 1 overall for a reason, no one has ever doubted the physical tools this guy has been blessed with. That's why it's simple; if JaMarcus Russell is truly committed to becoming an NFL quarterback once again, that combination of raw, natural athletic ability and passion is something the Vikings would be foolish to overlook. If the front office can come up with a contract written to protect the team's interests, then the choice is abundantly clear: The Minnesota Vikings should give JaMarcus Russell a chance to compete this season.