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Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Rise and Fall of JaMarcus Russell

JaMarcus at the 2007 NFL Draft Media Lunch-By Dr. Bill Chachkes

The Rise and Fall of JaMarcus Russell-By J.P. Fox forFootball Reporters Online

    When people used to bring up the phrase “Draft Bust,” it used to signal the talk of Ryan Leaf. Nowadays, Leaf is basically an afterthought. There’s a new man holding down that crown of being the biggest draft bust in NFL History, and that man is JaMarcus Russell. Russell was just recently released by the Oakland Raiders, after playing only three seasons for the team. He was even shunned by “THE” Al Davis, the man who gave the go-ahead to draft him with the 1st pick in the 2007 draft. Davis is notorious for drafting players that have great speed, or had a great combine, or have many accolades. With this article, I’ll talk a little about what made Russell the 1st pick in the draft, and only three seasons later, being jobless.

    JaMarcus Russell went through his junior season at Louisiana State as a wonderkind. He was putting up unbelievable stats while leading the Tigers to a 10-2 record and a spot in the All-State Sugar Bowl game against Notre Dame. During the regular season, Russell threw for 3,129 yards 28 Touchdowns and 8 interceptions. In the bowl-game against Notre Dame, Russell accumulated 350 yards of total offense and had 3 touchdowns while being named the game’s MVP in  a 41-14 win. At LSU’s pro-day, Russell measured and weighed in at 6’5 ½ 265 pounds, and was throwing 60 yard bombs from his knees. When people heard of this, most of them were saying, “he did what?” Guys with that kind of arm-strength are basically not human. Can Chad Pennington throw the ball even 50 yards with a running start and full wind-up? I doubt it.

    But Russell was basically the topic of pre-draft chatter after what he did at the LSU pro-day. What puzzles me is that nobody was really talking too much about his weight. A quarterback coming in weighing 265 pounds….wouldn’t there be some concern over weight issues? In my mind, yes, there should have been. But the Raiders went ahead and drafted Russell with the 1st pick in the 2007 draft, over the likes of Calvin Johnson, who head coach Lane Kiffin wanted, Adrian Peterson, who is a perennial NFL rushing leader year in and year out, and even Patrick Willis, who just signed a 5 year extension with $29 million guaranteed with the 49ers because of how much of a beast he is. Passing on franchise WR’s, future hall-of-fame RB’s, and Brian Urlacher-type LB’s could set your franchise back years. In fact, in what is definitely a weird coincidence, in the next three drafts for the Raiders after Russell, they drafted a RB, WR, and LB. (Darren McFadden in ‘08, Darrius Heyward-Bey in ‘09, and Rolando McClain in ‘10, just for kicks)

    So back to JaMarcus Russell. He held out his rookie training camp before signing a huge contract in the range of 6 years for $68 million with $31.5 million guaranteed. Russell didn’t even take a snap from center until December 2, 2007 when he did so against the Denver Broncos. Russell went 4 of 7 for 56 yards. He didn’t play again until December 23 when he played against the Jacksonville Jaguars. In a disastrous statistical game, Russell completed only 7 of 23 passes for 83 yards to go along with 1 touchdown, 3 interceptions, and 1 lost fumble. OUCH. After that performance, and the Raiders only sporting a 4-11 record, Lane Kiffin decided to start Russell in the last game of the season against the San Diego Chargers.  On Russell’s first pass as a starting quarterback, he threw an interception. Russell couldn’t finish the game after leaving early in the third quarter after an apparent injury. He did, however, finish the game completing 23 of 31 passes for 224 yards and a TD. I failed to mention he had three turnovers which led to 17 Charger points in a 30-17 loss. Without those 17 points, the Raiders would have won that game 17-13.

    In the 2008 season, Russell was named the starting QB in training camp and ended up starting  15 games. In what was his best statistical season in the NFL thus far in a very short NFL career,  Russell threw for 2,423 yards, 13 TD and only 8 INT’s. That was not a bad year for a guy who is only starting his first full season in the league. The Raiders thought they had something now. They thought wrong. Coming into the 2009 season, Russell was again named the starting QB in training camp, which didn’t surprise anybody after the season he had in ‘08. Which would end up being the beginning of the downfall of JaMarcus Russell, he finished a horrible season completing 48.8 percent of his passes with an abysmal 3 TD’s and 11 INT’s in 9 starts. During the season, he was also benched for the likes of Bruce Gradkowski and journeyman Charlie Frye. Russell really soured in the Raiders’ front office with his mediocre play and nonchalant attitude. He was often seen on the sidelines looking not interested and non-caring. By the end of the ‘09 season, Russell was now the #3 QB on the Raiders depth chart.
    In the off season, Russell was criticized for his lack of conditioning and the talk was beginning that the Raiders front-office personnel was trying to convince Al Davis that they had to move on from Russell. Davis eventually agreed and on May 6, 2010, less than 3 years after drafting him #1 overall, JaMarcus Russell was released by the Oakland Raiders. With $36 million already collected in paychecks and guaranteed money, and another $3 million coming his way in the form of a guaranteed paycheck, Russell collected $39 million from the Raiders for completing 52% of his passes, a little over 4,000 yards passing with only 18 TD’s and 23 INT’s. Now, Russell is jobless. What a shame for a guy to have so much talent, make so much money, to just not care about his job and then subsequently be released so soon into his career.

    There was talk that the Cincinnati Bengals were interested in bringing him in as a backup, and there was also speculation some teams were interested in bringing him in and playing another position. Russell is not budging.  The New Orleans Saints have already said they are not interested in bringing Russell back to his home town to backup Drew Brees. Russell has said that he is not at all interested in signing with the Arena Football League or the Canadian Football League. I believe he should leave all doors open. Even if he tried to boost his stock in the newly developed United Football League, I think that’d be great for him. Daunte Culpepper has just signed with a team out in Sacramento. Having two big-name guys in the league would be good for exposure and be good for Russell. He shouldn’t say, “I’m only going to play in the NFL, or nothing.” I truly believe a team in the UFL should definitely try to woo him into playing a year or two with them. He is only 24 years old and doesn’t turn 25 until August. Playing a year in another league where he could work on his conditioning, keeping his weight under control, and even his skills, he could benefit in all aspects. But with that said, having $39 million in the bank is unreal, maybe he’ll just retire. Who knows? Only JaMarcus does.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Denver Broncos Tim Tebow blasted by hot chick at bar

Denver Broncos 1st Round NFL Draft Pick Quarterback Tim Tebow brings out the best and the worst opinions from football fans. During his college career at The University of Florida, Tebow had scores of "haters" and so many there's a website home for them called "Tebow Haters" at TebowHaters.com.

Tebowhaters.com so hates Time Tebow they've got a wealth of material which dates back to 2006 and have joined in with The Bleacher Report for a "bust watch" clock on for Tim now that the Oakland Raiders have released their 2007 1st Round Pick JaMarcus Russell. Bleacher Report states:

Remember that the Broncos traded three draft picks for Tebow; the most for one player in the NFL Draft since Ryan Leaf.

Meaning that, if Tebow turns into a bust, Tebow will be a shoo-in to surpass Leaf. The heat is now on Tebow.

Tim Tebow's so hated he was even blasted by this hot chick at Aventine bar in San Francisco on Cinco De Mayo, and Tebow wasn't even there.

Now, seriously, the woman in the video is not any ordinary person; Kelly works in the sports industry, was at the 2010 NFL Draft, and is a Denver Broncos fan. The rare, random meeting of two people who actually worked at the NFL Draft, Kelly and this blogger, started a frank conversation on a number of NFL-related topics, but the hottest one was about Tim Tebow.

I have no strong feeling against Tim Tebow, and hope he does very well. Thats not true for Kelly, who can't stand him and is a huge Peyton Manning fan. Kelly's blast was like a gattling gun and anyone would be stupid to step in the way of it. Asked point blank-direct why she hates Time Tebow she said:

"Well, I'm from Knoxville, Tennessee...So Vols automatically hate Florida Gators. Tim Tebow is like a robot. Like pull the stick out of your butt. He's just too much. I know that camaraderie, whatever, we need a great leader on the team. He's just too much. I don't think he'll have followers. Nobody can relate with him.

And then he moves to Colorado where Focus on The Family is based out of Colorado Springs. Now we're going to have a bunch of Bible-belting fans being the crazy Christian right. You go to a Broncos game, there's going to be people praying instead of drinking.

I'm not a Tebow fan. I am a Broncos Fan. That's why I'm so sad we have Tebow."

When I informed her that the Broncos also had Brady Quinn and Kyle Orton, her responses were classic: "Oh, that makes a lot of difference...We have three quarterbacks. None of them are great."

I think Kelly wanted the Broncos to trade their entire draft for Peyton Manning.  She didn't say that, but I'd bet she'd support the move.

Tim Tebow stirs the passions of everyone from Kelly to Dallas Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones, who got off the now famous blast against Tebow just days before the 2010 NFL Draft and, yes, at a bar, as seen in this video:

Jones said he could never get Tebow onto the field.

At the NFL Draft Kelly's fellow Vol, Eric Berry, the Kansas City Chief's 1st Round Pick, said to me that he delivered his hardest hit to Tim Tebow (at the :58 second mark):

Curious to see the famous collision, I looked up the video of Eric Berry versus Tim Tebow or Tennessee versus Florida. This is what I found:

From the video, I'd say Tim Tebow got the best of Eric Berry on that one. Tebow had lower leverage and knocked Berry back. While Berry's sacked Tebow before, this is the hit he was referring to. Berry said he didn't know what he was thinking when he did that, "He brings a load." A load he's going to see twice a year since the Denver Broncos play the Kansas City Chiefs.

For some reason, I think it's his devout Christian faith, people want to root against Tim Tebow. I think Kelly and Jerry Jones are going to be very surprised. Even with that, I'm sure Kelly will not be shy in expressin her opinion.

Stay tuned.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Lawrence Taylor says his golf game is always good

LT. talks about his golf game
This NFL Draft installment (thanks to the Inn at Irving Place, part of the Small Luxury Hotels of The World brand) comes from The NFL Draft Red Carpet - New York Giants and NFL Legend and Dancing with The Stars star Lawrence Taylor was trying to flash by the media at the NFL Red Carpet at the 75th NFL Draft, but this blogger managed to halt his stride with a question about his golf game.

Lawrence Taylor is known for his love of the game, and of late he was playing in pro-ams with celebrities like Donald Trump. L.T., the center of a joke by NFL Hall of Famer Jerry Rice that he'd better leave because "L.T's coming," stopped to directly inform me that his golf game was "always fine."

Little did anyone know that could mean his talent for scoring hole-in-ones didn't apply to just the links, or that Jerry Rice's playful run out of the picture might have a double meaning. Lawrence Taylor was charged with 3rd-degree rape in a bizarre case that Taylor first claimed was set-up and that he never had sex with a 16-year-old runaway girl under the control of a pimp, and is now saying there was "some contact" and he was told she was 19 years old.

If that was the case, and The Huffington Post reports that it is, then from that narrow perspective, Taylor was set up. But only to have sex with someone he thought was of age. Beyond that, the picture looks bad and opens a ton of questions, but the main one is this:

Why was L.T. even of the mind to pay for sex with a young girl considering he's got a wife at home and was dancing with an enormously beautiful woman on Dancing with The Stars?

What kind of mindset does L.T. have? If the teenager was beaten by this Rasheed Davis pimp from The Bronx before she had sex with Taylor, did L.T. even notice that she was hit by someone? Can't he tell a teenager when he sees one? Also, did L.T. just have to have a young girl to be with? Why?  And I'm not buying the sexual addiction excuse.

And the most pressing question is why would Lawrence Taylor place himself in such a low-life position, laying down with people who live a kind of life that keeps them in trouble? Look, if he was going to do that, why not a high-class escort in her 30s? How about a New York Knicks Cheerleader?  Why not an Upper East Side socialite?   How about a Columbia law student?

If he was of a mind to fool around, New York's teaming with lovely, smart, successful women single and married and all well over 21.  But then with a wife as devoted to a man as Taylor's is, publicly stating her support for him, L.T. should have just took his rear-end home.

What the hell's wrong with him?

Stay tuned.

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