Jamarcus Russell Or Ryan Leaf... Who Wouldn't You Rather Have?
With all due respect to fans of Brian Bosworth and Akili Smith, when it comes to talking of all time biggest NFL busts, Ryan Leaf has to be crowned king. All of a sudden a new challenger has emerged for the throne. Could it be Jamarcus Russell's time to reign?
Ryan Leaf entered the NFL as the second overall pick in the 1998 draft. A young, raw quarterback with a cannon for an arm. He was penciled in to lead the San Diego Chargers to greatness for years to come. Jamarcus Russell entered as the top overall pick in 2007, with not quite as much hype, but a rocket launcher arm that would put anyone to shame. He was Al Davis' next great quarterback who would bring the tradition back to the Oakland Raiders.
Each lasted three seasons with the team that drafted them, and each had astounding eye popping numbers. Unfortunately, it wasn't the good kind of eye popping.
Leaf's career ended after four seasons, with four, count them four wins as a starting quarterback. Coupled with 17 losses, his career win percentage was .190. In his 25 career games played he threw a paltry 14 touchdowns, while conversely tossing 36 interceptions, and only managing to complete 48.4 percent of his passes.
To put it in perspective, Peyton Manning, the only player chosen ahead of Leaf in the 1998 draft has never thrown for less than 26 touchdowns in any 16 game season.
On top of the poor play, was the poor off the field performances as well. Leaf's most remembered NFL moment was his locker room temper tantrum during his rookie season where he verbally berated a reporter.
Then there is Jamarcus Russell. A man whose desire and commitment to the NFL were questions before he was even in the league. The questions were not enough to turn the Raiders off to him, as they made him their number one choice in the 2007 draft. There decision was rewarded with a holdout lasting into the regular season of what was supposed to be his rookie campaign.
After three forgettable years in Oakland, Russell's career possibly ends with an unimpressive 7-18 record as a starter.
In 31 total games, he was able to connect on 52.1 percent of his throws. Like Leaf, he has more interceptions than touchdowns, throwing for 23 picks to only 18 scores. However, he lost 15 fumbles whereas Leaf only gave away 12 for his illustrious career.
Not to be outdone, Jamarcus has now encountered off the field issues of his own. As if the constant commitment questions, and concerns about his ever fluctuating weight weren't enough, Russell can now add arrest for possession of codeine syrup to his record. With his release from the Raiders in May, he became the shortest tenured number 1 drafted quarterback by the team that selected them, in NFL history.
Ryan Leaf's career is undoubtedly over. Jamarcus Russell still has a chance to reappear with a team at some point, so there is that chance for now, that he could still salvage something of his career. But if this is it for Russell, he has undoubtedly thrown his name into the conversation of all time biggest busts.
While disappointing can't even begin to describe the career of Jamarcus Russell, he at least didn't have the hype or the expectations of Ryan Leaf. His inadequacies off of the field were never quite as memorable as Leaf's either.
So when discussing the greatest bust in NFL history, Jamarcus Russell certainly has made a very worthy case, but as it relates to the current king of busts, Ryan Leaf, I say "Long live the King."
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