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The Early Lead
Posted at 12:58 PM ET, 10/27/2011

JaMarcus Russell tells his side of the story in latest Sports Illustrated

It didn’t take long for JaMarcus Russell to go from the No. 1 overall pick in the 2007 NFL draft to the laughingstock of the league.
So I wasn’t Peyton Manning... what’d you expect? (Paul Sakuma - AP)

From constant quips about his weight and intelligence to his alleged sizzerp sipping, Russell quickly became the butt-end of league-wide jokes and the source of serious frustration for Oakland Raiders fans.

Oakland finally cut bait last year after Russell managed to complete only 52 percent of his passes in 25 starts over three seasons. He had more interceptions (23) than touchdowns (18) and lost 15 fumbles.

We get it, he wasn’t very good. But was all the hate warranted? Russell responded to some of the biggest criticisms of his tumultuous tenure in the NFL in L. Jon Wertheim’s story in this week’s edition of Sports Illustrated.

Here are a few slivers of Russell’s side of the story...

■ On the lack of support from his teammates: “Things weren’t going right, and it felt sometimes like everything fell back on me. I take some responsibility, but I was one guy.... I may have missed a throw, but I didn’t give up 42 points, I didn’t miss a block.”

■ On dealing with off-the-field issues during the season, which included the deaths of 11 family members or friends including a father figure: “I went through so much no one knew about. Go to a funeral on Saturday, fly into the game on Sunday. Then I hear, ‘He doesn’t lead by example.’ Really?”

Russell also revealed that he was diagnosed with sleep apnea, discovered after he was instructed by team officials to get checked out when he fell asleep in a team meeting.

“JaMarcus is a good kid, I’m telling you, who just needs to find his motivation,” Russell’s former life coach, John Lucas said in the story.

Russell reportedly just built a 50-yard practice facility on his property in Mobile, Alabama, where he hopes to work his way back into the NFL.

Will Russell ever be able to shake the titantic “Bust” label affixed to him and return to the field on Sundays Sunday’s? What do you think?

By  |  12:58 PM ET, 10/27/2011

 
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