Not every NFL Draft pick works out, even those selected first overall. Injuries, talent discrepancies, and poor team fit can result in a player failing to meet expectations. In the case of JaMarcus Russell, the problem was that he just didn’t care.
Taken No. 1 overall by the Oakland Raiders in 2007, JaMarcus Russell looked primed to be the Raiders’ quarterback of the future. Russell had an impressive arm, but lacked the work ethic to put his talents to use. In fact, his former backup QB Bruce Gradkowski claims he had to bribe Russell with cheeseburgers in order to get him to watch game tape.
JaMarcus Russell: Big fan of ? pic.twitter.com/1lLEJgUB3P
— PFF (@PFF) April 30, 2020
Putting aside the health impact of eating that many burgers, Russell’s clear disinterest in watching tape helps add context to his spectacular bust of a career.
Russell was First-Team All-SEC in his junior year at LSU, and won the Manning Award the same season. Sadly, his college skills did not translate to the NFL, and he rapidly grew out of shape. Russell only lasted three seasons with the Raiders, totaling 18 touchdowns and 23 interceptions.
His failure on the field and lack of interest have become legendary. In late 2018, former New York Giants linebacker David Diehl recounted how coaches had caught Russell not watching the game video he was assigned.
David Diehl just told a great story on the FAN. Coaches didn’t think Jamarcus Russell wasn’t studying tapes so they gave him blank cassettes. Next day, he said he watched the blitz packages. The tapes were blank.
— Andrew Marchand (@AndrewMarchand) November 4, 2018
Being an NFL quarterback takes a lot of hard work. It takes complete mental and physical devotion, both of which Russell seems to have lacked.