One of the biggest busts in NFL draft history would like to return to the league.
JaMarcus Russell, the No. 1 overall pick by the Oakland Raiders in the 2007 draft, is working out and planning a comeback. He hopes.
“My first year out, I couldn’t watch football, but after a while I couldn’t keep the TV off,” Russell, who hasn’t played in the NFL since 2009, told Yahoo Sports. “I got that itchy feeling, but now I gotta watch it, gotta watch. The last few years, the things going through my life, football is my job, and it is how I feed my family. People would say I didn’t love the game, but that [ticks] me off. People don’t know the real you, but I want people to know the real me and see what I can do.
“People are always saying that I’m a bust. I want show them I’m not. I’m committed to this now.”
Russell is down to 302 pounds from the 320 he reached last fall and is working out with trainers. He’s being mentored by, among others, Marshall Faulk, Jeff Garcia and Michael Clayton. Although his height (6-6) and age (27) are in his favor, he has a lengthy list of negatives: he was lazy, played poorly and became an NFL laughingstock after his arrest in 2010 for having a codeine syrup without a prescription.
“I’m not looking for a pat on the shoulder from people who haven’t been there for me,” Russell said. “It feels funny not to go through a training camp; that’s just what I’m used to. It’s going to feel good to go back out there again. I will make this happen.”
He won seven of his 25 starts with Oakland, completing 52.1 percent of his passes. He threw for 18 touchdowns, with 23 interceptions, 15 lost fumbles and had a 65.2 passer rating. Teams, notably the Washington Redskinsin 2010, have kicked the tires on Russell and chosen not to sign him.