A comeback for JaMarcus Russell?
JaMarcus Russell (AP/Paul Sakuma)
JaMarcus Russell (AP/Paul Sakuma)
NFL writer
Posted Oct 21, 2010
Michael R. Martinez

JaMarcus Russell was a bust with the Oakland Raiders, but he's planning a comeback and working out six days a week. He admits he made mistakes the first time.

JaMarcus Russell’s legacy in the NFL isn’t going to change with the news that he now admits to making a few mistakes during his failed term as the Oakland Raiders’ quarterback. He’s still arguably the biggest draft bust the game has ever seen – a No. 1 overall pick who never got his career in gear -- but now Russell says he wants another shot.

Don’t expect Al Davis to come calling.

In an interview with Showtime’s ”Inside the NFL,” Russell, who was released by the Raiders last May, says, “Now, looking back at it, I could have went about certain things different.”

If you’re waiting for some serious admission on his part, don’t. Even now, Russell, who is still just 25 years old, can’t figure out what he did wrong.

“I am not sure,” Russell said. “I don't know where they went wrong. But the things that did go wrong, I take full blame for whatever was my fault, and the things that did happen. Being drafted No. 1 there are so much that they want you to do at a snap of a finger. It didn't happen that way, which brings us to today.”

Actually, Russell should have a pretty good idea what happened. For starters, he was continually overweight when he arrived at training camp. He was also reluctant to put in the necessary hours to improve himself. And that lackadaisical attitude never sat well with Raiders fans. When you act as if an interception is no big deal, people begin to think you just don’t care.

No one knows if a new JaMarcus Russell is going to emerge from the rubble he created, but he has a believer in former NBA player and coach John Lucas. Lucas, who once played for the Oakland, Calif.-based Golden State Warriors, stepped forward after Russell was arrested in July when police seized what they allege was codeine used to make a concoction called “purple drank” from his home in Mobile, Ala. Russell has admitted to using codeine with the Raiders, but a friend told a judge that the codeine police seized was his, not Russell’s.

Lucas told Fox-TV in Houston: “I went and got him. What I saw in him was me 33 years ago when I was out in Golden State. His troubles started there and so did mine after I left the Houston Rockets. I saw a lot of common denominators. We were both No. 1 picks, but JaMarcus is working hard and doing really good.”

Russell told Fox that he knows “for a fact” he’s going to play in the NFL again. But teams will be reluctant to show an interest unless they believe he’s made the requisite changes in his work ethic. In his defense, Russell said he wakes up at 6 a.m. and works out two or three times a day, sometimes six days a week.

“Once I get back – because I’m going to do that – all those guys will see all the hard work I’ve been putting in throughout this time,” he said.

He has a lot to prove. It’s safe to assume he’s not doing this for the money. He collected $39 million from the Raiders in his two-plus seasons.

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