JaMarcus Russell

JaMarcus Russell

refer to caption

Russell in November 2008
No. 2
Position: Quarterback
Personal information
Date of birth: (1985-08-09) August 9, 1985
Place of birth: Mobile, Alabama
Height: 6 ft 6 in (1.98 m)
Weight: 300 lb (136 kg)
Career information
High school: Mobile (AL) Williamson
College: LSU
NFL Draft: 2007 / Round: 1 / Pick: 1
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
TDINT: 18–23
Passing yards: 4,083
Passer rating: 65.2
Player stats at NFL.com

JaMarcus Trenell Russell (born August 9, 1985) is a former American football quarterback. He played college football at LSU, where he finished 21–4 as a starter and was named MVP of the 2007 Sugar Bowl. The Oakland Raiders selected Russell with the first overall pick of the 2007 NFL Draft. Russell held out[1] until the Raiders signed him to a contract worth $61 million with $32 million guaranteed.[2] Russell played three seasons with the Raiders, compiling 7–18 record as a starter.[3] Due to his inconsistent play, the Raiders released him on May 6, 2010.[4]

Early life

Russell was born in Mobile, Alabama and attended Lillie B. Williamson High School. For all four years under head coach Bobby Parrish, Russell started and never missed a football game. In his freshman year, Russell completed 180-of-324 passes for 2,683 yards and 20 touchdowns as Williamson reached the state championship game. By the next season, Russell had grown to six-foot-three and 185 pounds, had received his first recruiting letters and was becoming more adept with the playbook. Russell passed for 2,616 yards and 20 touchdowns during his sophomore year and led the team to the semifinals.[5] He has dated Fats Domino's granddaughter.

Russell's best season was his senior year; he completed 219-of-372 passes for 3,332 yards and 22 touchdowns, and rushed for another 400 yards and five touchdowns. This earned Russell Parade magazine All-American honorable mention honors.[6] His 10,774 career passing yards broke the Alabama High School Athletic Association record and still stands today.[7]

Russell was at the center of an ESPN Outside the Lines story on high school sports in Mobile.[8] He also played basketball and threw the javelin in track and field.

Name Hometown High school / college Height Weight 40 Commit date
JaMarcus Russell
Mobile, Alabama Williamson HS 6 ft 5 in (1.96 m) 223 lb (101 kg) 4.76 Jul 8, 2003 
Scout:5/5 stars   Rivals:4/5 stars   247Sports: N/A
Overall recruiting rankings: Scout: 4 (QB); 2 (school)   Rivals: 6 (QB); 79 (national); 3 (LA); 1 (school)
  • ‡ Refers to 40 yard dash
  • Note: In many cases, Scout, Rivals, 247Sports, and ESPN may conflict in their listings of height, weight and 40 time.
  • In these cases, the average was taken. ESPN grades are on a 100-point scale.


College career (2003–2006)

Freshman and sophomore seasons

In February 2003 on National Signing Day, Russell committed to Louisiana State University (LSU) over Florida State University, becoming the LSU Tigers' 28th and final recruit of the 2003 season. He redshirted his freshman year and by the fall of the 2005 season, Russell was the starting quarterback. He led the Tigers to a 10–1 regular season record, the Southeastern Conference (SEC) Western Division title, and a top five ranking going into the SEC Championship Game. He also improved statistically, completing 60 percent of his passes for 2,443 yards and 15 touchdowns. Russell received an honorable mention on the AP's All-SEC Team.

Russell led the Tigers to two come-from-behind wins in the regular season. The first came on a 39-yard pass to Early Doucet on 4th down in the final minute of the game, as the Tigers defeated Arizona State 35–31. Later in the season, LSU defeated a then-undefeated Alabama team 16–13 when Russell completed a 14-yard touchdown to Dwayne Bowe in overtime.

Russell injured his shoulder in a loss to Georgia in the SEC Championship Game, and missed the team's bowl game. Backup quarterback Matt Flynn replaced Russell for the Peach Bowl against Miami, and the Tigers won the game 40–3.

Junior season

Russell was the starting quarterback again at LSU in 2006, beating out Matt Flynn and highly touted redshirt freshman Ryan Perrilloux. Before the season began, he changed his jersey number from 4 to 2. He had a productive 2006 regular season, leading the Tigers to a 10–2 record and a BCS Sugar Bowl berth. He threw for 3,129 yards, 28 touchdowns and eight interceptions. He was second in the SEC with 2,923 yards from scrimmage. Russell also won the SEC Offensive Player of the Week award three times during the regular season.

During one game against Tennessee, Russell started the game poorly, throwing three interceptions (including one that was returned for a touchdown), but subsequently led LSU on a 15-play, 80-yard comeback drive in the end the game. At the end of the drive, Russel threw a touchdown pass to Early Doucet while there was less than 10 seconds left. As a result, LSU won 28–24. In the Allstate Sugar Bowl, Russell accumulated over 350 yards of passing and rushing combined and scored three touchdowns, leading LSU to a 41–14 win over Notre Dame. For his performance, he was named Sugar Bowl MVP.

At the end of the 2006 season, Russell was named to the all-SEC first team, ahead of Kentucky's Andre Woodson and Florida's Chris Leak. In addition, he was named an honorable mention All-American by Sports Illustrated.

On January 10, 2007, Russell stated that he had decided to skip his final season of NCAA eligibility to enter the 2007 NFL Draft.[9]


Professional career

Pre-draft measurables
Ht WtArm lengthHand size 40-yd dash 10-yd split 20-yd split 20-ss 3-cone Vert Broad BPWonderlic
6 ft 5½ in 265 lb32¾ in9⅞ in 4.72 s 1.67 s 2.78 s 31 in 24
Values were taken at LSU Pro Day.[10][11]

John Clayton of ESPN stated that Russell's workouts at the 2007 NFL Combine that Russell's arm strength and size impressed several teams, and predicted that it would "be hard to pass up on Russell at #1."[12] At the combine, Russell stated about his size, "I've been playing quarterback ever since. I was always bigger and taller than the other kids, and I was always able to throw it a pretty good length of the field." Cleveland Browns General Manager Phil Savage said of Russell's abilities, "His talent is substantial. He's a rare combination of size and arm strength."

Russell was selected by the Oakland Raiders as the number one overall pick.

Russell was one of four LSU players taken in the first round, along with safety LaRon Landry, and wide receivers Dwayne Bowe and Craig Davis.[13]

2007 season

After failing to reach a contract agreement with the Raiders, Russell held out through training camp and into the first week of the 2007 NFL season, until September 12, when he signed a six-year contract worth up to $68 million, with $31.5 million guaranteed.[14]

Raiders head coach Lane Kiffin did not immediately name Russell a starter, saying, "That way we can really control what he is doing, play for this set amount of time for this many plays. He doesn't have to have everything mastered," noting that Russell had missed all of training camp and other quarterbacks, like David Carr, should have been brought along more slowly.[15]

Russell made his first professional appearance on December 2, 2007 against the Denver Broncos. Coming into the game in the second quarter in relief of starter Josh McCown, Russell played two series, and completed 4 of 7 pass attempts for 56 yards.[16]

On December 23, 2007 against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Russell threw his first career touchdown pass, a 2-yard pass to Zach Miller. He finished the game with seven completions on 23 pass attempts for 83 yards, with one touchdown pass, three interceptions and a lost fumble.[17]

Russell made his first career start in the final game of the season against the San Diego Chargers. Russell was intercepted twice and lost a fumble, which led to 17 points off turnovers for the Chargers. After throwing his second interception, Russell did not initially get up off the field due to an injury, and he was taken to the locker room on a cart later in the game, after which he was replaced by Andrew Walter. In that first start, Russell completed 23 of 31 passes for 224 yards, one touchdown, two interceptions, and a lost fumble.[18]

Russell finished his rookie season with 36 completed passes on 66 attempts, 373 yards, two touchdowns and four interceptions. After the San Diego game, Kiffin named Russell the starting quarterback for the upcoming 2008 season.[19]

2008 season

Russell (left, #2) looks to pass during a game on November 2 against the Atlanta Falcons.

Russell was named the starter for the opening game of the 2008 season, which was against division rival, Denver Broncos. Despite losing 41–14 in his second career start, Russell completed over 65 percent of his passes, throwing for 180 yards, two touchdowns, and no interceptions.[20]

Next week against the Kansas City Chiefs, the Raiders won 23–8. Russell passed for only 55 yards and completed 6-of-17 passes with no touchdowns or interceptions.

The next three weeks the Raiders lost against the Buffalo Bills, San Diego Chargers, and New Orleans Saints. Russell started all three games, but only threw a combined total of two touchdowns during that span.

In Week 7, the Raiders beat the New York Jets 16 – 13 in overtime. The win ended their four-game home losing streak. Russell completed 17-of-30 passes for 203 yards and one touchdown.[21] It was head coach Tom Cable's first win as Raiders head coach. Russell led the team on a 43-yard drive to set up Janikowski's game winning kick.[22]

The next four games were losses to the Baltimore Ravens, Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, and Miami Dolphins. A week after the Miami game, Russell led the Raiders to a 31–10 victory against Denver where he completed 10-of-11 passes for 152 yards and threw one touchdown.

Russell finished the 2008 season winning back to back games against the Houston Texans and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. In those last three games, Russell threw for six touchdowns and two interceptions.

2009 season

In August, Russell was named starter of the Raiders.[23] Following a loss to the Kansas City Chiefs on November 15, Russell was benched indefinitely by coach Tom Cable due to poor play in favor of Bruce Gradkowski. Gradkowski led two fourth quarter comebacks and upset the Cincinnati Bengals and Pittsburgh Steelers in the following two weeks, throwing 5 touchdown passes. After Gradkoswki was injured against the Washington Redskins, Russell finished the game for the Raiders, which resulted in a loss. After the game, coach Cable decided to start backup Charlie Frye rather than Russell, which moved Russell to #3 on the depth chart. When Frye was injured against the Denver Broncos Russell played near the end of the game. The game resulted in a win, however, this was Russell's final game as a Raider. He finished the 2009 season with the lowest quarterback rating, lowest completion percentage, fewest passing touchdowns, and fewest passing yards among qualifying quarterbacks in the NFL.[24]

In March of the 2010 offseason, NBC Sports described Russell as "annually and incredibly overweight", saying he arrived at mini-camp weighing 290 pounds, up from his initially reported weight of 271.[25] By April, National Football Post reported him at 300 pounds.[26] However, Cam Inman of the Oakland Tribune said that Russell had "a good first minicamp" and "is in great shape" in the team's first training camp in late April.[27] In an interview during camp, Russell said "Today I'm going to keep coming out, compete for the job, work my tail off."[27]

That same month, the Raiders traded for Washington Redskins quarterback Jason Campbell, which left the team with five quarterbacks on – Campbell, Russell, Frye, Gradkowski, and Kyle Boller. At the time, Raiders head coach Tom Cable said Russell could compete for the starting job.[28] Despite this, and because Russell was due a $9.45 million salary in 2010, some NFL experts reported that Russell would soon be released.

On May 6, 2010 the Raiders released Russell.[29] One day later, Russell cleared waivers, making him an unrestricted free agent.[30]

Future in football

New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton said on May 8, 2010 that the time was not right for the Saints to consider signing Louisiana-native Russell, but added in that it's "newsworthy" when a high draft pick is released so soon, and stated that players like Russell often get a second chance in the NFL.[31] However, due in part to concerns about his work ethic, he has never played another down in an NFL game.[32]

The Raiders filed a grievance on May 28, 2010, seeking $9.55 million back from Russell for what was paid as salary advances for the 2010–12 NFL seasons.[33] Russell's agent said "The money in question was fully guaranteed. That is why JaMarcus was forced to hold out and miss all of training camp as a rookie. The Raiders know that and this is our only comment."[34]

In November 2010, Russell tried out for the Washington Redskins and Miami Dolphins for open backup quarterback positions, but was not signed by either team.[35]

2013 comeback attempt

In 2013, Russell stated that he was interested in returning to the NFL, and will train with various NFL players, including Marshall Faulk and Jeff Garcia, along with Olympian Ato Boldon.[36][37] Russell's comeback attempt was documented by Bleacher Report in a series titled JaMarcus Russell's Road Back to the NFL.[38]

In May 2013, it was announced Russell had returned to his rookie weight of 265 pounds. Interest from the Chicago Bears and Baltimore Ravens had also been reported.[39] Later on June 4, 2013, it was announced Russell would receive a tryout with the Bears.[40] Three days later, Russell reportedly presented a "solid" performance in his try-out for the Bears while working out alongside fellow unemployed quarterbacks Trent Edwards and Jordan Palmer. The Bears did not sign him, stating they were not interested in adding a fourth quarterback to the roster.[41] However, the Bears did sign both Edwards and Palmer two months later.[42][43] Russell was not worked out or signed by any professional football team following the 2013 season or during the 2014 offseason.

2016 comeback attempt

In April 2016, it was reported that Russell had written letters to all 32 NFL teams asking for a tryout and pledging to play one year for free. To date, no team has responded to this letter. Most pro football experts believe that it is not likely any NFL team will take any interest in Russell, since he has not played a meaningful down in seven years.[44]


NFL.com's Steve Wyche claimed that Russell is the biggest draft bust in NFL history.[45] The Huffington Post named Russell one of the 13 biggest draft busts of the 2000s.[46] ESPN's Bill Williamson called Russell a "talented but extremely disappointing" quarterback.[30]

In addition, Russell's 2009 passer rating of 50.0 was the lowest rating by a starting quarterback in the NFL since 1998.[33] His final stats during his tenure as a Raider were 52.1% pass completion, 18–23 TD-INT ratio, a passer rating of 65.2, and 15 lost fumbles.[33]

No Oakland player wore Russell's #2 during the regular season for several years after his release (although punter Marquette King did wear that number during Oakland's 2012 preseason before being placed on season-ending injured reserve). In 2011, newly drafted quarterback Terrelle Pryor's request to wear #2 was turned down by then-coach Hue Jackson; it is widely believed that the Raiders did not want another highly touted quarterback wearing the same number as the disappointing Russell.[47] However, in 2013 Raiders coach Dennis Allen allowed Pryor to trade numbers with King; he debuted on Oakland's practice field on August 21, 2013 wearing the jersey number he had worn at Ohio State.[48]


Russell was born to Bobby Lloyd and Zina L. Russell-Anderson, a machine operator in a furniture factory and a law firm secretary, respectively.

Russell is a cousin of Robert Jordan, formerly of the California Golden Bears and San Francisco 49ers, and Marshawn Lynch of the Seattle Seahawks.

His uncle Ray Ray Russell was a long-time DJ and radio host for the Mobile, Alabama-based station WBLX until his death in 2009. In 2011 his cousin DeAngelo Parker started Ray Ray's Chicken and Waffles franchise in honor of him in Mobile, Alabama.[49]

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Russell housed around a dozen evacuees who had fled the flooding in New Orleans, including New Orleans singer Fats Domino, in his off-campus apartment.[50]

Codeine syrup possession arrest

On July 5, 2010, Russell was arrested at his Mobile, Alabama home for being in possession of codeine syrup without a valid prescription.[51] His arrest was the culmination of a two-month investigation that did not initially target Russell, but his name and address surfaced repeatedly during the investigation.[52] Russell was bailed out, and a bond hearing was scheduled for July 7, 2010. At his July 20, 2010 arraignment, Russell pleaded 'not guilty' to a state felony charge of possession of a controlled substance.[53] On October 29, 2010, a Mobile County grand jury declined to indict Russell on the charge of possession of codeine syrup without a prescription.[54] By at least one account, the arrest severely diminished his prospects of catching on with another NFL team.[32]

In an interview with ESPN's Colleen Dominguez, Russell stated that he tested positive for codeine after he was selected by the Raiders in the 2007 NFL Draft.[55]


  1. "Sources: Long holdout for Russell – NFL – Yahoo! Sports". Sports.yahoo.com. 2007-08-05. Retrieved 2010-09-16.
  2. Gay, Nancy (September 12, 2007). "Russell's millions argue for rookie salary cap". The San Francisco Chronicle.
  3. "JaMarcus Russell NFL & AFL Football Statistics". Pro-Football-Reference.com. 1985-08-09. Retrieved 2010-09-16.
  4. "Oakland Raiders get quarterback Jason Campbell in trade with Washington Redskins – ESPN". Sports.espn.go.com. 2010-04-24. Retrieved 2010-09-16.
  5. Sack, Kevin (2001-02-27). "Cash Crunch Imperils High School Football". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-10-26.
  6. 2002 Postseason High School Football All-American Teams. Retrieved October 26, 2009.
  7. "Individual Football Records", AHSAA, retrieved 2010-06-05
  8. "ESPN.com – Page2 – Outside the Lines: Death, Taxes, Football". Espn.go.com. Retrieved 2010-09-16.
  9. Guilbeau, Glenn (January 11, 2007). "LSU's JaMarcus Russell is going pro". The Shreveport Times.
  10. "JaMarcus Russell". NFL Draft Scout. Retrieved August 17, 2013.
  11. "JaMarcus Russell prospect profile". NFL. Archived from the original on July 3, 2007.
  12. "Russell makes a big impression – NFL – ESPN". Sports.espn.go.com. 2007-02-26. Retrieved 2010-09-16.
  13. "Russell First of Four Tigers in NFL Draft First Round". LSUsports.net. 2007-04-28.
  14. "Deal exceeds Russell's financial goals, but holdout hinders playing time". ESPN.com. 2007-09-13.
  15. Spander, Art (2007-11-20). "JaMarcus not about to start". The Oakland Tribune.
  16. "Russell debuts, but McCown leads Raiders past Broncos". CBS Sportsline. December 2, 2007.
  17. Pasquarelli, Len (2007-12-24). "Top pick Russell draws Chargers in first career start". ESPN.com.
  18. "San Diego 30, Oakland 17". Yahoo! Sports. 2007-12-30.
  19. Barber, Phil (2008-01-01). "Russell's first start shows big strides". The Press Democrat.
  20. "– NFL Game Center". Nfl.com. Retrieved 2013-11-15.
  21. "– NFL Game Center". Nfl.com. Retrieved 2013-11-15.
  22. Paul Sakuma. "NFL Game Center: New York Jets at Oakland Raiders – 2008 Week 7". Nfl.com. Retrieved 2010-09-16.
  23. Karabell, Eric. "JaMarcus Russell named Oakland Raiders starting quarterback – ESPN". Sports.espn.go.com. Retrieved 2010-09-16.
  24. QB rating Archived January 6, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.
  25. "Report: JaMarcus Russell weighs 290 pounds - NFL- nbcsports.msnbc.com". NBC Sports. nbcsports.msnbc.com. March 26, 2010. Retrieved 11 August 2010.
  26. "Scout: JaMarcus Russell is tipping the scales at 300 pounds". National Football Post. 2010-04-26. Retrieved 2010-09-16.
  27. 1 2 "Candid Cam: Raiders' Russell stuns world, looks capable of 'competing'". Mercurynews.com. Retrieved 2013-11-15.
  28. "Tom Cable says JaMarcus Russell can compete with Jason Campbell for Raiders' starting job". Content.usatoday.com. 2010-04-26. Retrieved 2013-11-15.
  29. "Oakland Raiders release quarterback JaMarcus Russell". San Jose Mercury News. May 6, 2010.
  30. 1 2 "Former Oakland Raiders quarterback JaMarcus Russell goes unclaimed, clears waivers – ESPN". Sports.espn.go.com. 2010-05-07. Retrieved 2010-09-16.
  31. "Saints not interested in Russell". ESPN. 2010-05-08. Retrieved 2010-09-16.
  32. 1 2 Wertheim, L. Jon (October 31, 2011). "The Man Who Isn't There". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved 2011-10-28.
  33. 1 2 3 "Oakland Raiders seeking $9.55 million from JaMarcus Russell – ESPN". Sports.espn.go.com. 2010-05-28. Retrieved 2010-09-16.
  34. Archived May 31, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.
  35. "Sources: 'Life coach' gives up on QB Russell". Yahoo! Sports. Retrieved 2011-04-14.
  36. Patra, Kevin (2013-01-23). "JaMarcus Russell preps for NFL comeback at 308 lbs.". National Football League. Retrieved 2013-01-23.
  37. Dyer, Kristian (2013-01-22). "NFL draft bust JaMarcus Russell is attempting a comeback | Shutdown Corner - Yahoo Sports". Sports.yahoo.com. Retrieved 2013-11-15.
  38. Aaron Nagler (February 19, 2013). "Comeback 2013: JaMarcus Russell's Road Back to the NFL, Episode 2". Bleacher Report. Retrieved April 26, 2013.
  39. Wesseling, Chris (2013-06-04). "JaMarcus Russell set for Chicago Bears workout Friday". National Football League. Retrieved 2013-06-06.
  40. Michael C. Wright (June 4, 2013). "Source: JaMarcus Russell gets tryout". ESPN Chicago. ESPN. Retrieved June 4, 2013.
  41. Michael C. Wright (June 7, 2013). "Source: Russell deal unlikely". ESPN Chicago. ESPN. Retrieved June 7, 2013.
  42. Mike Florio (August 18, 2013). "Bears add Trent Edwards". Pro Football Talk. Retrieved January 24, 2014.
  43. Mike Wilkening (August 16, 2013). "Report: Bears add quarterback Jordan Palmer". Pro Football Talk. Retrieved January 24, 2014.
  44. Michael David Smith (April 26, 2016). "JaMarcus Russell wrote every team, asking for a chance". Pro Football Talk.
  45. Wyche, Steve (2010-05-07). "Russell supplants Leaf atop list of all-time draft busts". Nfl.com. Retrieved 2010-09-16.
  46. Klopman, Michael (2010-04-22). "NFL Draft BUSTS: 14 HUGE Draft Disasters Of The Decade (PHOTOS)". Huffingtonpost.com. Retrieved 2010-09-16.
  47. Killion, Ann (August 26, 2011). "New number, opportunity for Pryor". Sports Illustrated.
  48. Sessler, Marc. "Raiders' Terrelle Pryor takes JaMarcus Russell's No. 2". NFL Around the League. NFL Enterprises LLC. Retrieved 23 August 2013.
  49. Simmons, Rusty (August 8, 2007). "It's all relative: Raiders' Russell bunks down with a Bear". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2008-02-03.
  50. "LSU QB shares home with Fats Domino". MSNBC. 2005-09-04.
  51. Tafur, Vittorio (July 7, 2010). "Russell accused of illegal codeine possession". The San Francisco Chronicle.
  52. Archived July 9, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.
  53. "Former Oakland Raider JaMarcus Russell pleads not guilty to felony drug charge – ESPN". Sports.espn.go.com. 2010-07-20. Retrieved 2010-09-16.
  54. "No charges for JaMarcus Russell in 'purple drank' case". USATODAY.com. 2010-10-29. Retrieved 2010-12-30.
  55. "JaMarcus Russell Admits Positive Test For Codeine". SportsCenter.com. 2010-08-13. Retrieved 2010-12-30.

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