After three disappointing seasons, the Oakland Raiders bid adieu to 2007’s No. 1 overall pick JaMarcus Russell on Thursday. Russell started 25 games over the past three years as the Raiders quarterback, compiling a 7-18 record as a starter along with loads of harsh criticism. Russell was frequently glorified as an impassionate worker as his weight habitually ballooned close to 300 pounds and his on-field performances often left a lot to be desired.

Russell completed only 52 percent of his passes while throwing 23 interceptions and only 18 touchdown passes. Russell was benched midway through last season in favor of backup Bruce Gradkowski, who led the team to one of the biggest upsets of the year in a 27-24 shocker over the defending champion Pittsburgh Steelers. Speculations of Russell’s release intensified after Oakland traded for Washington Redskins quarterback Jason Campbell on April 24.

Russell’s release from Oakland is the shortest tenure in NFL history between a team and its first round quarterback, surpassing the four-year run by former Indianapolis Colts signal caller Jeff George. After a successful career at Louisiana State University (LSU), Russell’s stint with the Raiders was troubled from the start. A contract holdout led to Russell missing a full offseason of his first training camp with the team and he didn’t sign his contract until the opening week of the 2007 season. Russell then waited until December to make his professional debut before starting the final game of the season.

While Russell will walk away from Oakland with a lot left to prove, he’s already bankrolled the salary of a NFL superstar. He’s earned $36 million so far from the Raiders with the team still owing him another $3 million.


Stephen D. Riley

Special to the AFRO