Many hold the strong belief that JaMarcus Russell is one of the biggest busts in NFL history. Russell‘s failed stint with the then-Oakland Raiders played a massive part for years in the negative public image of the franchise. With that in mind, the Raiders had a particular moment involving a blank DVD that gave them everything they needed to know about their quarterback.
JaMarcus Russell’s failed NFL career
Following the Raiders selecting JaMarcus Russell with the first overall pick in the 2007 NFL Draft, things quickly headed south.
The LSU product struggled to find his footing at any point in his three-year NFL career. Although it was a different time in the league, where first-round selected quarterback didn’t have the pressure to play right away, the Raiders quickly saw what they needed to see from Russell.
In his three seasons, he complied 4,803 passing yards on a 52.1% completion rate with 18 touchdowns to 23 interceptions and a 65.2 passer rating in 31 games with 25 starts. Beyond his lackluster production, Russell demonstrated in another way why the Raiders made a massive mistake with drafting him.
JaMarcus Russell’s Blank DVD incident said it all
Throughout JaMarcus Russell’s brief NFL career, there were plenty of telling signs that the Raiders made a massive mistake.
Beyond his porous play, Russell demonstrated that notion to the team’s coaching staff on numerous occasions. Former Raiders linebacker Kirk Morrison discussed one such incident during a fill-in host spot on the Rich Eisen Show in March 2018 said just about everything concerning the first overall pick of the 2007 NFL Draft.
“Coach [John] Defilippo said ‘look JaMarcus we got 15-20 plays that we want this week. Here’s a DVD for you. Tonight we want you to watch these because tomorrow this is what we are going with the game plan,'” Morrison recalled. “The next day they come to practice and they say ‘JaMarcus how is the DVD? Did you look at it?’
“He was like “Oh coach all the plays. They look good. Whatever you want to run let’s do it. I like them. They said ‘Did you like five of them or seven of them? 10 of them? [He then said] ‘Coach whichever. I saw them and we go ready to go. I went through them all.’
“Coach Defilippo was looking around and was like ‘it was a blank DVD.’ So he didn’t watch the DVD. That’s when they knew they were in trouble.”
Russell already had many red flags coming into the league, which his work ethic remained among those. His lack of commitment to film study became evident through his play as he struggled to find his footing in any regard.
This singular story further underlines how risky it can be to find an NFL franchise quarterback.
Raiders will forever live with the mistake
The Raiders’ failure with the JaMarcus Russell selection set the franchise back several years.
The team disappointingly attempted to give Russell a run through three seasons, but what made matters worse is that the organization paid him $32 million guaranteed. The Raiders did manage to get out from under the final three years of his six-year, $61 million contract.
By that point, the damage had already been done as the Raiders pushed themselves further south. The organization remained stuck in a vortex of mediocre play throughout those three seasons. The Russell experience further stained the Raiders as a team marred by poor decision-making from management and ownership.
What puts a bigger knife in Raiders fans’ hearts is that then-head coach Lane Kiffin’s desire to take Calvin Johnson with that first overall selection. Johnson became one of the league’s greatest wide receiver talents behind a Hall of Fame resume.
The franchise’s struggles have only persisted for many years despite having significantly better play under center. Las Vegas has reached the playoffs only once in the last 18 years but remains in a better spot than over a decade ago.
Nonetheless, the decision to draft Russell is a mistake that will forever remain associated with the organization.