JaMarcus Russell was the number 1 overall pick in the 2007 NFL draft coming out of LSU. Drafted by the Oakland Raiders, the franchise placed its future in Russell’s hands but that proved to be a costly mistake as Russell never materialized into the star they thought he could be. Outside of his overall poor play on the field, Russell was labeled as being lazy when it comes to remaining in shape, and he also had off-the-field issues that led to him being released by the team in 2010. He went on to labeled as one of, if not the biggest bust in league history.
In 2013, he attempted a comeback with the Chicago Bears, which saw him get very serious about his training, losing close to 50 pounds and being more focused than he ever was while in Oakland. Unfortunately, his throwing mechanics and accuracy was inadequate and the team did not invite him to their training camp.
Now, at 30-years-old, Russell is making one final desperate plea for another chance in the NFL. According to Sports Illustrated, he will do anything to make it onto another NFL franchise, even if it means playing for free.
“Who’s to say? You might see me back. You never know, man. You never know. … Whatever it is — I can be a water boy and work my way into a scout team. It doesn’t matter. I’ll go play for free.”
JaMarcus even penned letters to all NFL teams last season as well. In a letter written to Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, Russell wrote:
“I am willing to lead the scout team for free for one year just to get experience in your system. I know that my name does not carry much weight in the NFL right now, but I am more than the image that others have bestowed on me,” Russell wrote. “I’ve been labeled as a bust, I have been labeled as lazy and I have been the targets of many insults by the media. The blame for any negative press that I’ve received rested squarely on my shoulders. … My tribulations have humbled me. I am a better man because of my struggles, and I simply desire an opportunity [to] redeem myself. I do not want my legacy to be a trail of unfulfilled dreams and missed opportunities.”
The likelihood of the NFL Player’s Union allowing a player to compete with a $0 salary is pretty farfetched, but Russell’s contrition for his past ways along with a renewed vigor and determination is very commendable.