My Work Ethic Is Better than Yours: A Tale of Two Careers

Jason ThomasCorrespondent IJuly 7, 2009

ALAMEDA, CA - MAY 08:  Jeff Garcia #7 of the Oakland Raiders throws the ball during the Raiders minicamp at the team's permanent training facility on May 8, 2009 in Alameda, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

There's been a lot of criticism of JaMarcus Russell as lazy and overweight. I don't know. I do know he's always been a big guy. In college he was about the same size as he is now.

Maybe he just has big bones? 

Every year I hear about a running back or wideout who has changed their offseason conditioning program, their diet. They've lost 10 to 15 pounds and feel born again. 

That guy is usually 35 years old. He's usually trying to squeeze a few more years out of his career, out of his aging body. That's not uncommon. In fact, it's the norm in professional athletics.

Here's the rub. That guy was probably a hard worker to begin with. 

Fred Taylor is the most recent player that I read about. 

Look Fred is and has been a great player for all of his career. It seems now though that time is calling in the marker. It happens to the best of us.

What's my point? 

Think of the great Jerry Rice, Raider fans. He played at a high level much longer than anyone anticipated, even returning from a serious knee injury and defying the odds. How could this happen?

You see, my misinformed friends, Rice is the exception, not the rule. Sure we'd all like to train like Rice all-year round, meticulously monitor our food intake, abstain from vices that might take away from our performance. 

It's not so easy for anyone. Imagine now being a world class athlete, and a millionare, and performing well enough to start and succeed in the NFL. Why should you work any harder?   Why should you sacrifice more than your fellow competitors?

That's why Jerry Rice was the greatest. That's why Chris Carter turned his life around after a troublesome beginning. The light comes on for all of us at some point. 

The question is when? And why? 

I'm not one to criticize professional athletes. I'm an athlete myself, so I know to respect my superiors. These guys are the best of the best. How dare I, or you, or anyone else presume how to tell them how to prepare for their profession. 

It stinks I tell you. 

Could Russell, amongst many, many other professional athletes, work harder? Sure. Would he play better? Maybe...probably, but still that's his choice.

Certainly he's mobile enough at this weight, and gifted enough to succeed just the way he is. If you think Russell should lose weight, then you should try and lose some weight yourself.  How about 20 pounds? Good luck. It ain't so easy.

Before you starts saying, "It's his job." 

It isn't.

His job is to win football games, plain and simple. His weight really isn't an issue, because much to the chagrin of seemingly everyone, Russell is a classic pocket quarterback.

Honestly, I'd like to see him scramble more, he moves pretty good for a big guy. Sadly, I think he's afraid to be painted with that brush if you know what I mean.

Then there's Jeff Garcia. Oh my, everyone is raving about Garcia. You think he has been given anything in this life? At 6'0 and about 190 lbs., you bet he's had to work his tail off to make it where he is. 

Good for him. 

He deserves everything he's gotten. Russell isn't Garcia, and Garcia isn't russell. I wonder how hard he would've worked if he'd been drafted No. 1 and had a right arm that resembled a cannon. 

Now, he can be a mentor to Russell. 

Russell should learn from Garcia's example, but don't expect one person to act like another just because someone told you that they should. We all find our own way in life. 

Finally, I think of the great Kenny Stabler, the snake. He was known to party a little. You can bet he could've worked harder, could've trained better, but it didn't matter because Stabler won football games.

It seems he's come out in support of Russell as of late.  At least, that's what I've read. Have faith in the process Raider fans. People keep forgetting that Russell is a young man.

Last year was essentially his rookie season, and he played better and better as the year went on.

I said it in my first article, and I'll say it again, this kid is going to make you proud. He's going to do things with a football that no other quarterback in the NFL can do. Just wait.

You'll see.


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