So it has finally happened, the Raiders cut JaMarcus Russell today. If you are a Raider fan, or perhaps anyone who devoutly follows football, it was always a question of if, not when. That's right, I arranged it that way on purpose. Despite everyone saying that it was the only logical thing to do after signing Jason Cambell. The Raiders have never been the team to do something because everyone else thinks it's the right move. We love (and hate) them for it, and in our hearts we knew that until the announcement was made, nothing was certain.
Now, though, the move is done, and we look at what affect this has on our football team. We all saw it last year. It wasn't just the play of JaMarcus that led to his release, It was his affect on the players around him, and the reaction he garnered from fans.
We've all seen the stats; 7 wins, 18 losses, 52.1% completion percentage, 18 touchdowns, 23 interceptions, and 15 lost fumbles. Perhaps this isn't all on Russell's shoulders. Our offensive line was weak and our receiver core was young. But a lot of it is his fault. He looked confused in the pocket, was always overthrowing passed to open receivers, and couldn't hold the ball when hit.
His teammates had given up on him. You saw it in their demeaner when JaMarcus came on the field. Shoulders were slumped, heads would hang. Even in close competitive games the very air would change. They talk about being the last one in and first one out, falling asleep or skipping meetings, and isolation from the rest of the team. This is no way to build a winning attitude. We all saw interviews where JaMarcus said things such as "I only worry about JaMarcus", or "I don't think it's me, it's everyone out there."
And finally...the fans. The fans in Oakland greeted JaMarcus with a standing ovation when he made his first start. Raiders fans are rabid. If you are devoted to that team, they are devoted to you. We've seen similar welcome's extended to Jason Cambell, Rolando McClain, LaMarr Houston, and the rest of the off-season add-ons. The fans and that team are like a brotherhood, but once exiled, you will not return. So when the boos started falling, it was over.
Good luck JaMarcus, wherever you end up. I wish you the best. But for the Oakland Raiders it's time to move on.