JaMarcus Russell talks about his issues while with the Raiders
Former Oakland Raiders quarterback JaMarcus Russell revealed to Sports Illustrated that many factors contributed to his underachieving performance with the team, including the deaths of 11 friends and family members, and sleep apnea.
After being selected by the Raiders as the top pick in the 2007 draft, Russell won just seven of 25 starts, completed 52.1% of his passes and made only 18 touchdowns in his three seasons with the team. The Raiders let him go in 2010.
Here are some excerpts from the interview.
On the deaths of 11 family members or friends: “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?”
On Russell's relationship with then-coach Tom Cable: “I stuck my neck out for him. Didn’t complain when he benched me as the starter. Didn’t complain when he called the same plays five damn times. Didn’t [badmouth] him to other coaches. When the [media] asks me, I say, ‘He’s a good coach, a good guy.’ Then I hear he says I was the worst thing ever happened to the Raiders, 'if it weren’t for him we’d be in the playoffs'? ... It just got to where the game wasn’t fun for me.”
On reports that he slept during team meetings: “In the NFL, my first year, I had to be there at 6:30 [a.m.] before practice and be on the treadmill for an hour. Then meetings come, I sit down, eat my fruit. We watch film, and maybe I got tired. Coach Flip [quarterback coach John DeFilippo] pulled me aside and said, ‘What are you doing for night life?’ I said, ‘Coach, I’m just chilling.’ He said, ‘I need to get you checked out.’ I did the sleep test, and they said I had apnea.”
On rumors that he’s broke: “Football isn’t paying me now. You make $1 million a game and you can do whatever. It’s not like that anymore; I need to put myself in a place where those zeros in the bank last for a long time. But I’m not broke. Far from it.”
-- Melissa Rohlin
Photo: JaMarcus Russell. Credit: Nick Laham / Getty Images