August 27, 2011
Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor(notes) may have worn the number 2 with some distinction — at least until he got pinched for accepting impermissible benefits and eventually applied for the supplemental draft — but when the Oakland Raiders recently selected Pryor in the third round of that draft, they wanted Pryor to have no part of his old jersey number.
Not because of anything Pryor had done, you understand — this restriction was more about the player who wore that number before — 2007 first overall pick and all-time mega-bust JaMarcus Russell(notes). Vittorio Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle was the first one to break the news, via Twitter:
It's understandable, really. Russell started just 25 games in his three-year NFL career before the Raiders released him and put themselves on the hook for nearly $40 million in guaranteed money. Russell completed just 52 percent of his passes in his career, and threw three touchdowns to 11 interceptions in 2009.
Between missing team meetings to go to Vegas, drinking that ol' Purple Drank, ballooning up to well over 300 pounds, and just generally outstripping Ryan Leaf for the title of "Worst draft bust in NFL history," Russell was the all-time worst example of the Raiders' recent (and repeatedly fatal) lack of draft acumen.
Based on what the tape says, Pryor has enough to deal with before he's going to be even a half-legit NFL starter. Why saddle him with the most notorious number in franchise history? This might be the first jersey number ever retired just because nobody ever wants to see it again.
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