JaMarcus Russell knows his career didn't turn out the way he or anyone else wanted it to. The former No. 1 overall pick by the then-Oakland Raiders in 2007 lasted just three seasons in the NFL before he was released in 2010 and never played another NFL snap.
But he also believes he was never truly given a chance to succeed on the Raiders and that helped fuel his status as one of the worst draft picks of all time.
Russell talked about what went wrong on The Pivot Podcast with former NFL players Ryan Clark, Fred Taylor and Channing Crowder this week:
“I wasn’t doing crazy [expletive]," Russell said. "I was trying to chill, relax ... and trying to win some football games. Unfortunately, I wasn’t winning. But I was dealt a [expletive] hand. I'm at practice, bro, and these folks couldn’t catch a reverse, bro. Six plays straight, but you want to go downfield and catch a 90-yard pass."
"No, I didn't feel that [the Raiders wanted me] at all. Going into that building was like, 'What's going to happen today?' I was getting fined for crazy [expletive]. ... They was trying to find ways to get paper back, I thought. Then they said I owed them money. Why would I owe them money? I signed a contract."
Russell felt constantly undermined by the Raiders
Russell mentioned his dislike of the Raiders' 2009 coaching staff, specifically head coach Tom Cable who took over for Lane Kiffin midway through Russell's second season in Oakland. Russell's disdain for Cable is well-documented and Russell didn't shy away from doubling down on his old coach. He talked about how the Raiders brought in two quarterbacks (Bruce Gradkowski and Charlie Frye) with connections to the new staff who were waiting in the wings to start over Russell, which they both eventually did that season.
"He was already jiving me from the get-go. That's how I feel," Russell said. "... I don't know what's going on in this building. I don't know who's with me and who's against me. That [expletive] was lonely, bro."
When asked about the infamous DVD story (where the Raiders reportedly gave Russell a blank game tape to see if he actually watched the film), Russell didn't confirm or deny the story but admitted he might not watch the film but still say he was ready to play. What frustrated Russell more than anything was the tactic used to undermine him.
"Why would you play a [expletive] game with my life. Why would you [expletive] me over? You're supposed to be teaching me so we can get better, man. I never got that. LSU wouldn't have done no [expletive] like that."
This past June, Russell wrote at length about his time in Oakland for The Players' Tribune, too. He mentioned the hardships of losing family members and his dependence on codeine during his childhood in Mobile, Alabama. But in his conversations with Clark, Taylor and Crowder, Russell seemed at peace with where his life ended up.
"Everything that went wrong, if I could have done better ... I take fault in that. Let's get this straight: I ain't asking for no pity from nobody under no circumstances. What happened, happened. Let's move on. Football don't last forever. It gave me a great start on life. I ain't mad at nothing or nobody."
And if you want to call Russell a bust, the one-time NFL quarterback asks that you include a qualifier in front of the word.
"If you’re going to call me a ‘bust’, put ‘biggest’ on that [expletive] then," Russell said. "That does not bother me. That is not in my world. It doesn’t apply to anything I have going on."