How Can JaMarcus Russell Win Back The Team and Fans

D.J. O'ConnorSenior Analyst IIIFebruary 10, 2010

OAKLAND, CA - JANUARY 03:  JaMarcus Russell #2 of the Oakland Raiders looks on against the Baltimore Ravens during an NFL game at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on January 3, 2010 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

     Flashback:  "Okay Raider fans...with the first pick in the 2007 NFL draft the Oakland Raiders select...Quarterback, JaMarcus Russell."  It was a pick that energized Raiders fans.  Jerseys were flying off the shelves, tickets were being sold to watch the kid from LSU throw the ball 80 yards.  The Raiders had finally found a new franchise QB since the helmet to helmet hit from Derrick Brooks to Rich Gannon ended Gannon's career. 

     Present day:  There is a call from many Raiders fans to Al Davis to release JaMarcus Russell.  Half the seats at the Oakland Coliseum are filled by sea-gulls. There is a youtube video of a Russell jerey burning.

     I do not believe that releasing Russell is the right thing to do.  He is still young and he has had a lot of things out of his control hurt him:  Lane Kiffin, Greg Knapp, Tom Cable all calling his plays, starting 2 rookie WRs--although Murphy is very good, DHB is not, injury-prone and aging offensive line--especially Cornell Green and a poor running game have all hurt his growth.  Mark Sanchez in New York had a top-ranked rushing attack to ease him into the NFl.

     JaMarcus Russell is still a Raider and I will give him hell when he has terrible times, like 11 INTs to 3 TDs in his 2009 season.  His rating of 50.0 is horrible, smells like Ryan Leaf. long as Russell is an Oakland Raider I will hope for him to succeed. 

     If you have read my articles before, you know that I want Bruce Gradkowski to start, but that is not chisled in stone.  I do not favor Gradkowski because of skin color, as some here on BR think.  If Russell goes Michael Jackson and changes skin colors I still won't support him until he plays well.  I favor Bruce because he has won games and given energy.  If you doubt either of those, did you watch the Raiders play in 2009? 

     Some of Russel's supporters say that Al Davis knows what he is doing.  I saw a comment on an article that said anybody who wasn't alive during the 1960s-80s should shut up.  News flash:  The NFl is changing, time for you, whoever made that comment, to grow up.  The comment said that Davis has won 3 Super Bowls and we have won 0.  Davis has an advantage because I don't own a football team!

     Anyway, I wrote this article to tell what I want to see from Russell, and debate in the comments section with the many who object, one way or the other.

 1.  Train and Study:  It is said by ESPN that Russell is training in Arizona, and he hopes to get into the best shape of his life.  Good start for Russell, but he hasn't explained why he missed the last day of team meetings after the Ravens' loss to go to Las Vegas.

  2.  Passion:  Some say that Kenny Stabler was never too emotional, but he won games.  Russell constantly would walk off the field after those 11 INTs plus several fumbles or sacks like there was nothing wrong.  I would be less angry about Russell if he got angry after a mistake instead of blaming his teammates after the game.

  3.  Maturity:  He is 24.  He is entering his 4th season, time to grow up.  No more playing hookey in Vegas while the team is in a meeting, no more blaming teammates even if they deserve blame for a failed block or dropped pass.  If Russell took a pay cut, which he deserves after 2009, he would be taking responsibility for his failures so far.  Oakland would have more money to bring in help in free agency.  Tim Brown restructured his contract for Oakland to sign Jerry Rice. 

   4. Just Win Baby!  If/When Russell returns Oakland to respectability, he will be cheered once again.  If the Raiders have another 5-11 season with Russell as the starter, the calls for his release will grow much more than ever before.  And I will be among them!