And the Loser Is … Weekend Cup O’Chiefs

There’s no surprise that maybe a Chiefs fan or two, or two thousand, enjoyed the sad news that came out of Oakland on Thursday with the Raiders release of QB JaMarcus Russell.

The move ended what has been an NFL soap opera for the last three years and established a new standard for failure in the NFL Draft. Russell is the poster child for the decline of the storied Raiders franchise, one that has made football proudest man a laughingstock among those that once feared him.

More than anything else, I would bet Al Davis is sad, upset and angry not with the wasted draft choice, or the $39 million Russell collected over three years. I’d wager that what just destroys Davis is that Russell remains a remarkable athlete, capable of doing memorable things on the football field. For any number of reasons, the Raiders were not able to get cultivate those talents so that Russell was a winning and productive quarterback.

Instead, he’s now the second man in the debate on who is the biggest bust in NFL Draft history, joining former San Diego’s selection Ryan Leaf. Russell was the first man selected in 2007, while Leaf was No. 2 in 1998. There are others that would be in the running with them, say the first choice of the 1999 NFL Draft QB Tim Couch who failed miserably in Cleveland. But the gold and silver medals are reserved for Russell and Leaf.

Any recent first-round draft failure in the Chiefs dossier does not come close to matching the sad results of Russell’s career.

 “We wish him well.” That was the only public comment by the Raiders on the release of Russell. It didn’t come from Davis, but one of his “people.” Nobody could find Russell to see what his initial reaction was, although it could not have come as a surprise to the Alabama native.

The tale of JaMarcus Russell is one that every other NFL team should investigate and intently study. This was not the case of the Raiders screwing up in their evaluation because every other team in the league had him rated as a top talent available in that ‘07 class.

He had the physical talent. He came out of a national championship program in LSU. Russell is smart, scoring a 24 on the Wonderlic test in the months before he was drafted. Those around the LSU program like Chiefs WR Dwayne Bowe said he was the leader of that team and in his two seasons as starting QB the Tigers were 22-4.

Talent, smarts, leadership – what more would a team want from its quarterback.

Either something changed or the Raiders and other teams missed something very big in their evaluations of Russell. That rocket arm and athletic ability were minimized when he grew fat and out of shape. The intelligence he showed was hidden behind laziness and bad decisions. There was no apparent leadership to his teammates, who have recently begun to speak publicly about his poor habits and failures as the team’s starting quarterback.

Russell was habitually late for meetings. He was unprepared. The idea of extra preparation time was foreign to him. He would often get up in the middle of meetings and leave the room. Sometimes he would not return. There is a story – and nobody takes credit for it so it may be aprochol – that one Friday, the Raiders coaches sent Russell home with a DVD of plays they wanted him to study. When he returned on Monday, the coaches asked Russell if he’d looked at the DVD and studied the plays. He said he watched the disc and understood what the staff was talking about.

Just one problem: there was nothing on the DVD. It was blank.

Some people that know Russell from his days growing up in Mobile, Alabama and his record setting schoolboy career at Lillie B. Williams High School say the young man lost his way when his father figure, his uncle Ray-Ray, passed away last year. Apparently Ray-Ray was the one man who was able to convince his nephew that his behavior was wrong and that he needed to re-evaluate his actions and motivation.

Other folks around the Raiders believe the huge amount of money that fell into Russell’s lap simply changed the young man. He missed his entire rookie training camp and the first game of that ‘07 regular season before he and his agents finally sealed a deal with Oakland: six years, $68 million with $31.5 million in guaranteed money.

Rumors of a developed love of Las Vegas and gambling seemed proven with his continual trips to Sin City. Off-season conditioning wasn’t something he put a lot of effort into and there was his love of food. One person in his life said he was a “binge eater” who would spend days eating fast food and sweats on a nearly 24-hour basis.

This obviously dysfunctional young man ended up with one of the more dysfunctional franchises in the league. That certainly did not help matters, although the Raiders provided plenty of assistance and avenues for him to seek help. Russell was at the heart of some of the problems between Davis and former head coach Lane Kiffin.

“I do realize that you did not want us to draft JaMarcus Russell. He is a great player. Get over it and coach this team on the field. That is what you were hired to do. We can win with this team.” Davis wrote those words in a letter to Kiffin in ‘08 that the Raiders managing general partner made public in the aftermath of Kiffin’s firing.

Russell was 7-18 as the Raiders starting quarterback. Over his time in Oakland, he completed 354 of his 680 passes for 4,083 yards, 18 TD passes and 23 interceptions. That’s a completion percentage of 5.1 percent and an average of 6 yards per attempt. He was sacked 70 times. His career passer rating sits at 65.2.

So, who wins the prize as the biggest first-round draft bust in modern NFL history? Here are the numbers for Russell, Leaf and Couch. You decide.

Player G/S Att. Cmp. % Yards Yds/Att TD Int. Rating






























Obviously we can eliminate Couch from the competition since his numbers while poor, far exceed those of Russell and Leaf. Match those two up and it’s Leaf that would have to be considered the biggest draft bust in modern NFL history.

But he didn’t get $39 million and average $5 million per starting victory, $2 million per TD pass and $100,000 per completion.

Speaking recently with the Los Angeles Times, Leaf understood his place in history pre-JaMarcus.

“I used to go to bed at night hoping somebody else like Heath Shuler might magically leap frog me on those all-time bust lists,” Leaf told the Times. “It never happened. Why? Because I am No. 1. I can’t even think of anyone else in the ballpark that might be close to my combination of disappointment and failed expectations.”

Well Ryan Leaf, you now have a partner. His name is JaMarcus Russell.


In three seasons, Russell started four games against the Chiefs. His first victory as a starting QB came against the Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium early in the 2008 season, the Raiders winning 23-8. Overall in those four games, Russell’s record as the starting quarterback was 2-2, and he did not throw a TD pass or interception against Kansas City.

Here’s how it broke down, game-by-game in those four starts in ‘08-09:

Game Score Att. Cmp.


Yards Yds/Att TD Int.
‘08 @ KC

W 23-8








‘08 @ Oak

L 20-13








‘09 @ KC

W 13-10








‘09 @ Oak

L 16-10


















  • BENGALS – signed S Gibril Wilson; agreed to terms with CB Pacman Jones.
  • BRONCOS – signed OT Maurice Williams (Jaguars).
  • CHIEFS – released TE T.C. Drake and WR Chandler Williams.
  • RAIDERS – released QB JaMarcus Russell; signed RB Michael Bennett (Chargers).

22 Responses to “And the Loser Is … Weekend Cup O’Chiefs”

  • May 6, 2010  - Jason says:

    As big of a bust as Leaf is, Tony Mandarich also has to be mentioned. It can’t be truly measured statistically, but there is one thing that can be.

    In that 1989 draft, four of the first five picks are – or will be – in the Hall of Fame: Troy Aikman, Barry Sanders, Derrick Thomas and Deion Sanders.

    The one who isn’t: The No. 2 overall pick in Mandarich. Throw in the steroid discussion and his admission of being on roids in college, he at the very least deserves the bronze.

  • May 6, 2010  - aPauled says:

    Sad to think this guy lead the Raiders to a victory over the Chiefs last year with a late rally. Not our best day.

  • May 6, 2010  - Tim R says:

    Agree aPauled. That rally he lead against us told us just how far down we were. Extrmely embarrassing that a fat, lazy & unprepared QB could lead another poor team to victory over us was the epitome of organizational failure.

  • May 7, 2010  - The Morning Fix | Arrowhead Addict | A Kansas City Chiefs blog says:

    [...] And the Loser Is … Weekend Cup O’ [...]

  • May 7, 2010  - Mad Chief says:

    Well, I certainly didn’t “enjoy” the news that Russell was cut from the Raiders. With a halfway decent QB in their starting line-up (anyone but Russell)…they just improved their tremendously.

    It will be interesting to see if Russell gets another shot in this league. And if so, where?

    I think it would be funny as hell if he goes somewhere else and kicks ass. That could be the final nail in Al’s coffin right there.

  • May 7, 2010  - St. Paul 1 says:

    As much pleasure as I get from seeing the Raiders in disarray, I can’t really enjoy this news either – just from the human angle. I know, I know, Russell is crying all the way to the bank, but still it’s a bit depressing to witness all that wasted talent. I have to think he is an unhappy, troubled, directionless individual. And again, I know he did it to himself, was given every chance, etc. I just can’t feel good about it.

  • May 7, 2010  - Justin Foote says:

    Someone may sign him to a 1 year deal at the league minimum, to see if he can be “fixed”. I wonder how he’d do in Haley’s off-season program? He’d drop 40lbs probably. I wonder if Weis has any interest in him? There is a slim chance we could sign him and throw him on our practice squad and coach him up. I’m waiting for the comments to pour in……

  • May 7, 2010  - Mad Chief says:


    I would seriously doubt the Chiefs have any interest in Russell. Unless he can play NT…or on the O-line somewhere. And he’s just about the right size to, actually.

  • May 7, 2010  - True Red & Gold says:

    It doesn’t really matter how big, strong, and athletic you are if you are mentally weak. Mental toughness has to be number one on the list of attributes teams look for. Many a waisted talent can be traced back to a lack of mental toughness.

  • May 7, 2010  - skandaluz33 says:

    Mad Chief,

    Funny thing was, I was thinking that at work last night too, and immediately hated myself for it. Still, we could use a 3rd QB, wouldn’t hurt to give it a try….

  • May 7, 2010  - True Red & Gold says:

    There is nothing about Russell that would interest the Chiefs. In fact he is the exact opposite of what they are looking for. Justin, I am not sure if you are serious but Russell is not eligible for any teams practice squad.

  • May 7, 2010  - True Red & Gold says:

    IMO Russell will fade away in a very similar fashion as did Ryan Leaf.

  • May 7, 2010  - jimbo says:

    No way Russell plays for minimum wage with any team.
    He does not like playing, practicing or preparing for football games.
    He is self centered, lazy, egotistical & rich.
    Even the lowly (not for long) Chiefs would consider him, ever… For that matter, I don’t think Russell’s phone will ever ring with a GM on the line.
    That is all. Go Chiefs.

  • May 7, 2010  - BIG F says:

    Even though I think he’s a little punk, I bet Lane Kiffin is laughing is arse off about now….

  • May 7, 2010  - BigDad65 says:

    Even though he was a Raider, I can’t help but to feel a little sorry for him. I know, I know. The 30+ million is no reason to feel bad for him. But once you get past that and look at what his life must be like…he is in a world of hurt. I guess those of you who haven’t ever royally screwed something up should keep pounding him. I hope he can turn his life around…just not in the AFC.

  • May 7, 2010  - ThunderChief says:

    Interesting. Russell has the troublesome profile of a player the Raiders usually acquire! Now, with his release from even crazy Al’s team, what’s left for him?

    Oh, I wonder if Russell speaks Canadian?

  • May 7, 2010  - Michael says:

    That’s my biggest worry, too, that the Raiders will be that much better with J. Campbell in and Russel out. Though I don’t think Campbell is a great QB by any means, I still have to hope the Raiders will stay true to form and keep their entire situation messed up.

    Russell and his reps will have to do an awful lot of convincing to get any team to give the guy another chance. But, I think someone will. Not KC.

  • May 7, 2010  - craig says:

    If I had 36 plus million dollars I would not want to get on a football field either. He is young and rich and doesn’t want to end his life prematurely.

  • May 8, 2010  - bigvess says:

    Now that they rid themselves of Russell and a few more dead weight players like Morrison with a great draft the Raiders along with the Chiefs will give the Broncos and even the Chargers a dogfight. I love it!!! The AFC West is back baby for a great season of football. I can’t wait four months away before the season starts.By the way I am not a Raiders fans but you have to admit the Raiders haven’t pooped on themselves this offseason. They had a great draft but I rooting for the Chiefs to have a better season than them . I was listening to Clark Hunt on the radio Thursday and he said he expects the Chiefs to contend for a playoff spot this year and he said the year after that the Chiefs will al ready belong in the playoffs. He is very excited for this team. And he also said that there will be no lockout next season in 2011 he said that with the season ,and the Super Bowl they have time to get things done. His expectations is that there will be football in 2011. Bob if you can could you see if you can get both views from Brian Waters a player representative from the union and Clark Hunt’s from the owners perspective as well.

  • May 8, 2010  - RatsoReily says:

    A case of take the money and run … got his big $$$ now chill and enjoy life. He’s the poster child for teams grading those intangibles, a player who loves the game and will work hard, so high in their evaluation process. He doesn’t love the game and he certainly didn’t work hard. I have absolutely no sympathy for the guy! How many other players would kill for his opportunity and physical skills. And he just pissed it away … The only person who should be happy he failed so miserably is Ryan Leaf … lol he’s the second biggest loser and Russell is Number 1 !!

  • May 9, 2010  - Shoe says:

    The only person to blame here is Jamarcus Russell. Has/had every physical tool an NFL QB could want and he has apparently piddled his career away.

  • May 9, 2010  - el cid says:

    There was a day when the AFC West was the best in all the NFL. The raiders went a long way to returning to power with the releasing of Russel. Now we need to start pressing Cassel to upgrade the Chiefs more quickly that two positions a year. If you want to compete against the West, you need to fix a lot in a little time. Just saying the Pioli rebuild time factor should be shortened or we may be the worst in the West.

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