Does JaMarcus Russell Prove That The NFL Needs A Rookie Salary Cap?

Mihir Bhagat@mihirbhagatSenior Analyst IIIJuly 7, 2010

NEW YORK - APRIL 28:  JaMarcus Russell poses with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell after being chosen first overall by the Oakland Raiders at the 2007 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall April 28, 2007 in New York City.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
Nick Laham/Getty Images

Many, including myself, firmly believe that professional athletes in today's society are paid too much money for a service that impacts the world, as a whole, in few other ways aside from mere entertainment. 

In my mind, the worst case of this corrupted system is the NFL Draft, where first round picks, and in particular the top ten selections, are rewarded with contracts worth enormous sums of guaranteed money.

The biggest issue I, personally, have with the system is how all of these multi-millionaires are unproven commodities who may or may not have success in the league. A prime example of a player who has been of the latter, to say the least, is QB JaMarcus Russell.

The Oakland Raiders drafted the former LSU quarterback with the No. 1 overall selection in the 2007 NFL Draft. At the time, countless people were skeptical of their choice, primarily because it was based on potential.

After his combine workout, some so-called draft experts claimed that Russell had one of the greatest workouts they've ever seen. Well, as ESPN NFL analyst Mark Schlereth wisely stated, "That and four bucks can now get you a Starbucks."

Despite being so, the Raiders offered him a jaw-dropping six-year, $61 million deal, with $29 million guaranteed. In simpler terms, even if he were to come to practice overweight, put little effort into game-day preparation, and eventually be benched for lack of production, it wouldn't matter.

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It wouldn't matter if Russell has failed to live up to his high expectations, will most likely never be given a second chance in the NFL, and is arguably the greatest NFL bust of all time. To him, it truly wouldn't matter.

With the $38 million that he's already earned, safely stowed away in his bank account, he's ultimately set for life. Meanwhile, millions of hard-working people all around the world struggle to simply make ends meet and survive.

If there were a rookie pay scale, however, matters would be much different. Not only would we eliminate the league of pure disgraces to the sport such as Russell, but it may also increase the overall quality of the game, as young players will have extra monetary motivation to succeed.

Under present-day circumstances, several professional sports leagues in America do a fantastic job of ensuring that their rookies are justifiably paid. In the MLB, many rookies are forced to endure numerous years of training in the minor leagues before being paid massive salaries. In the NBA, each draft selection corresponds to a predetermined salary, which also eliminates the possibility of a contract holdout.

Due to the fact that the NFL has two functioning examples to learn from, it puzzles me as to why they continue to operate under current conditions.

As a loyal NFL fan and follower, I am pleading that the league take actions in order to fix this pressing issue because it is the right thing to do. I am confident that if efforts are made, then the league will certainly benefit tremendously, moving forward.