Jamarcus Russell: The Genius We Never Knew

Keff CiardelloCorrespondent IMay 21, 2010

OAKLAND, CA - NOVEMBER 15:  JaMarcus Russell #2 of the Oakland Raiders sits on the bench after being taken out of their game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on November 15, 2009 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

   Jamarcus Russell could be the smartest man in NFL history. No, no, no don’t stop reading and hear me out. 

     At LSU, he was able to big arm his way through the SEC before demolishing the daunting Fighting Irish and their superb quarterback, Brady Quinn, in the 2007 Sugar Bowl (for the record, by daunting and superb I really mean overrated and pathetic.)

     At 6’6, 260 or whatever, a bazooka for an arm, and an impressive collegiate resume, who wouldn’t want this man on their team? Al Davis did and so did Raider nation. You know you watched those YouTube videos of Jamay May tossing that ball sixty plus yards on one knee. 

     The Raiders took Russell with the first overall pick in 2007 and he was immediately hailed as the savior of a franchise in dire need of one.  And then the waiting began. While all the other first round players signed their contracts, Russell sat back and waited until the desperate Raiders   offered more.

     He waited through voluntary workouts, through OTAs, and through training camp. For any rookie, all of these off season activities are essential for future productive success in the NFL. Russell wasn’t just any rookie; he was the first pick, and a quarterback. He held out of this for what reason? Does he not want to be great?

     The main problem was that the Raiders were hesitant to give Russell a full “skill” guarantee on his money. A “skill” guarantee means that if a player gets hurt or is unsuccessful and is cut from the team, that player still receives their guaranteed money in full. Never has a first overall pick proposed a “skill” guarantee and, at the time it was proposed, Al Davis accused Russell’s agents of not having enough experience to be agents in the NFL. They eventually signed a full “skill” guarantee one week into the season.

      Three years later, Russell is cut from the Raiders for lack of ability and now has 39 million reasons to not care.

      Jamarcus Russell may or may not have come to the conclusion that I’m about to offer but it’s a thought. Maybe Russell realized that greatness doesn’t always carry monetary value. Coming from his rural improvised upbringing in Alabama, he knows the importance of money.

     Being a successful NFL quarterback takes time, an impeccable work ethic, good coaching, and ability. The only one of those Russell possessed was time. He knew he wasn’t the savior of Oakland but, thanks to hype from media and his size, he was able to convince everybody he was. Russell and his agents took on Al Davis and won, a man notorious for never giving in.

     Russell earned $39 million in three years, that’s almost $100,000 a completion. If I was told by my employer that they were going to pay me even if we fire you, I wouldn’t work hard.  In fact, I would work horribly in an attempt to be fired just to be paid to literally do nothing instead of just doing nothing but pretending I’m kind of trying.

     I’m not saying Russell is Albert Einstein but you can’t deny he pulled off pretty smart move. He knew he wasn’t as good as everybody thought so he said to himself, “Might as well get paid.”

     $39 million would set me for life, at least in theory it would.  So we’ll tell how smart Russell really is, pending his financial status in a few years. Until then, I offer, to Jamarcus Russell, these words of wisdom from the great philosopher, Snoop Dogg, “ Get money, dolla’ dolla’ bills ya’ll.”