JaMarcus Russell spoke matter-of-factly about his football career, which flamed out in three seasons after he was selected first overall in the 2007 NFL Draft by the Raiders.
Russell joined “The Pivot Podcast” with Ryan Clark, Channing Crowder and Fred Taylor for a conversation.
A few years ago, former Giants offensive lineman David Diehl told a story about how the Raiders sent Russell home with blank tapes to play “gotcha” with him when it turned out he did not watch film. Russell was asked about this, and did not deny the veracity.
“Why would you play a f–king game with my life. Why would you f–k me over?” he asked. “You’re supposed to be teaching me so we can get better, man. I never got that. LSU wouldn’t have done no s–t like that.”
Though Russell admitted some fault of his own in what would become a cautionary tale, he also said he was dealt a bad hand.
“I wasn’t doing crazy s–t.” Russell said. “I was trying to chill, relax … and trying to win some football games. Unfortunately, I wasn’t winning. But I was dealt a bulls–t hand. I’m at practice, bro, and these folks couldn’t catch a reverse, bro. Six plays straight, but you want to go downfield and catch a 90-yard pass.”
He was asked by Clark if he felt like the Raiders wanted him to be the guy at quarterback after selecting him first overall.
“No, I didn’t feel that at all,” Russell said. “Going into that building was like, ‘What’s going to happen today?’ I was getting fined for crazy s–t. I didn’t know they had my weight set at a certain weight, so I was getting fined per pound [overweight] … They was trying to find ways to get paper back, I thought. Then they said I owed them money. Why would I owe them money? I signed a contract.”
In Russell’s second season, Lane Kiffin was fired and Tom Cable took over as head coach. Russell and Cable were like oil and water.
“He was already jiving me from the get-go. That’s how I feel,” Russell said. “I don’t know what’s going on in this building. I don’t know who’s with me and who’s against me. That s–t was lonely, bro.”
Russell admitted to his own shortcomings. He said that as a 21-year-old he struggled to deal with the deaths of close family members, and acknowledged there were many ways he could have done things differently to accomplish a more successful football career.
“Everything that went wrong, if I could have done better — if it was watching more film, or being in better shape — I take fault in that,” he said. “Let’s get this straight: I ain’t asking for no pity from nobody, under no circumstances. What happened, happened. Let’s move on. Football don’t last forever. It gave me a great start on life. I ain’t mad at nothing or nobody. I don’t have no reason to be. Al Davis blessed me, man.”