I was the No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft – but I stayed out of work because each pass I tried cost my team $57,000

JAMARCUS Russell came to the NFL as a destined superstar, but fate wouldn’t take it.

The 5’11, 265-pound quarterback, 37, was selected #1 overall by the Oakland Raiders in the 2007 NFL Draft.

JaMarcus Russell is widely regarded as one of the NFL's greatest draft disappointments of all time


JaMarcus Russell is widely regarded as one of the NFL’s greatest draft disappointments of all timePhoto credit: Getty
The Raiders quarterback lasted just three leagues in the league and cost the team nearly $40 million


The Raiders quarterback lasted just three leagues in the league and cost the team nearly $40 millionPhoto credit: Getty

Russell had impressed NFL scouts with his impressive punching power and athleticism, which he displayed in college for the Louisiana State Tigers.

During his three years of college, he threw for 6,525 yards and 52 touchdowns.

After making the All-SEC first team during his junior season, Russell decided to drop out of his senior year and enter the 2007 NFL draft.

The Raiders signed him to a six-year, $68 million first-choice deal with more than $30 million guaranteed.

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Then-head coach Lane Kiffin decided to field Russell in Week 9.

As a rookie, Russell had 373 passing yards, two touchdowns, four interceptions and four fumbles in four games.

And the next season, Russell became Oakland’s starter, with a 5-10 record and passing for 2,423 yards, 13 touchdowns, eight interceptions and a disappointing 12 fumbles.

Things were only going to get worse for Russell, who was substituted after a 2-7 start in the 2009 season.

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Meanwhile, his condition was questioned as he weighed nearly 300 pounds.

After three seasons, the Raiders fired Russell in 2010 and still had to pay him an additional $3 million.

In the end, Oakland Russell had to pay almost $40 million back on his contract.

And each pass attempt by JaMarcus cost Oakland approximately $57,000.

As for Russell, he would never play for an NFL team again, despite trying for the Miami Dolphins and Chicago Bears.

After retiring from the NFL, Russell spent some time as the quarterbacks coach at Williamson High School in Alabama.

In 2022 he wrote a personal essay for The player’s grandstandRussell explained his uncomfortable experiences with then-Oakland owner Al Davis when he lost two of his uncles in 2009.

Russell wrote: “You know what’s so crazy? When the Raiders released me, Al Davis never met my eyes. He spoke directly to my agent.”

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“At that point, it was almost like a relief. I was just lost. I never really mourned the deaths in my family and I needed a break from football.”

“I didn’t think it would last forever.”


ClareFora is a Dailynationtoday U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. ClareFora joined Dailynationtoday in 2021 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing: clarefora@dailynationtoday.com.

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