Busted: ESPN Caught In The Act of Libeling Former Raider JaMarcus Russell

Bleacher ReportSenior Analyst IJune 8, 2010

OAKLAND, CA - JANUARY 3: Terrell Suggs #55 of the Baltimore Ravens tackles JaMarcus Russell #2 of the Oakland Raiders 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

At this point, Raider Nation can breathe some fresh air, because the climate in Oakland seems to be on the upswing now that JaMarcus Russell is gone.  Nevertheless, the negative opinions of Russell do not justify false information from being propagated.

Even though Raider Nation may disagree on the broad topics related to JaMarcus Russell, I think we can all agree that ESPN will make stuff up about the Raiders.  In part, because the people at ESPN dislike being locked out by Al Davis.

ESPN however, cannot even get a simple story right.  After the Raiders released Russell, Bill Williamson of ESPN's AFC West blog reported that Russell had been released. 

Seems simple right?  Well, apparently the ESPN people may need to tie their mittens to their vests, because Williamson then added that Russell has, "the worst winning percentage of any quarterback who was drafted No. 1. He became the quickest quarterback who was the No. 1 pick to be released by his drafting team."

Before I continue, I have already reported this to ESPN for a retraction.

It really does bother me that ESPN would so blatantly lie about Russell, and in doing so, lie about the history of the NFL.  I should also note that Williamson is a former reporter for The Denver Post, where he covered the arch-rival Broncos.

I will logically break down the statements made by Williamson:

A) He has the worst winning percentage.

B) He is a quarterback.

C) He is a number one pick in the NFL Draft.

D) He has had the "quickest release"

OR: A + B + C   /   D + A

Meaning that, Williamson used conjunctions to create his synthetic trivia of no relevance.  Note also that no mention of "modern era" or "since the NFL-AFL merger" was made, therefore, the logic of the statement "of any quarterback" opened the door to any quarterback selected first overall, going back to the first NFL draft.

The following is a list of quarterbacks taken first overall in the NFL draft with worse winning percentages that Russell, and whom played less time with the drafting team. 

The first five quarterbacks fit all of the criteria established by Williamson, while the last one, Jeff George, merely had a worse winning percentage with the Colts at .270 compared to Russell's winning percentage of .280 with the Raiders.

Angelo Bertelli, Bobby Garrett, Randy Duncan, and Terry Baker stand out because I think they transcend NFL history.

The now-defunct Los Angeles Dons of the All-American Football Conference selected quarterback Angelo Bertelli with the number one pick in 1946 and, in effect, passed on Hall of Fame quarterback, Otto Graham.

Randy Duncan signed with a CFL team for more money (that sounds familiar), rather than play for Green Bay.  By doing so, Duncan missed the boat to play for Vince Lombardi.

At the time that Bobby Garrett was selected, scouting was sparse.  After the Browns made Garrett the number one pick in 1954, they found out that he stuttered.  The Browns then traded Garrett to Green Bay for six players; Green Bay, not knowing about the stuttering.  As a signal caller, Garrett could not pronounce the letter "s".

The Rams would select Terry Baker in 1963 after he won the Heisman Trophy.  Baker would attempt only 21 passes before being released in 1966, because Baker did not fit the system.

(I gathered the following information from NFL.com and sports-reference.com , as well as ESPN and a St. Louis newspaper).


G = total games played

GS = games started

George Cafego, QB, Tennessee

QB taken 1st overall in 1940 by Washington Redskins
served in WW2 / in part because he was not succeeding
G  23 (with team that drafted him)
GS 13 (with team that drafted him)

Angelo Bertelli, QB, Notre Dame

Taken first overall by Los Angeles Dons in 1946
Left NFL for Marine Corps
Passed on Otto Graham of Northwestern
G  16
GS 5

Bobby Garrett, QB, Stanford

Taken first overall in 1954 draft by Cleveland Browns
problem with stuttering; traded to Green Bay
G  9
GS 0

Randy Duncan, QB, Iowa

Taken first overall in 1959 draft by Green Bay Packers
Played 2 years in CFL for more money; in effect, lost chance to play for Vince Lombardi
Later signed with Dallas Texans (now Kansas City Chiefs)
G  14
GS 2

Terry Baker, QB, Oregon State

Taken first overall in 1963 draft by Los Angeles Rams
Won 1962 Heisman Trophy / released by Rams in 1966
21 passing attempts / did not fit scheme
G  18

GS 1

Jeff George, QB, Illinois

Taken first overall in 1990 draft by Indianapolis Colts
W/L: 14/35 of 52 games with Colts
Worse winning percentage than Russell at .270, compared to .280, and George, technically, played more games with Colts


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