JaMarcus Russell has become a punchline. The top pick in the 2007 NFL draft is often declared the unanimous choice for worst draft pick of all time. Being drafted ahead of guys like Calvin Johnson, Patrick Willis, Marshawn Lynch, Darrelle Revis and reigning NFL MVP Adrian Peterson certainly doesn't help his cause.
But now Russell, after being out of football since being cut by the Oakland Raiders after the 2009 season, is trying to squeeze onto an NFL roster.
And at a trim 308 pounds, that shouldn't be hard to do, right? Not according to the photos taken of Russell by a security cam at a restaurant in Baton Rouge, LA:
During his three NFL seasons, Russell completed 354 of 680 passes for 4,083 yards, 18 touchdowns and 23 interceptions for a career 7-18 record. He also fumbled 25 times.
Russell has been reportedly been working out at the TEST West Football Academy in San Diego and getting help from former NFL players like Marshall Faulk, Mark Clayton and Jeff Garcia. Faulk told NFL.com's Andy Fenelon:
I told them I would, under one condition: That I talk to him one-on-one before I sign on. I want to know if he's doing this for the money or if he's for real. If it's only for the money, I want no part of it. If he's serious about playing football again, I'll help out.
“He said they took his manhood,” Tre Hern (Russell's barber) told Mike Florio last week. “It’s not about money. He’ll play for nothing.” The Raiders may have taken Russell's manhood, but he took them for around $30 million.
Russell held out of training camp for a six-year, $61 million contract after being drafted. The Raiders won only seven of his 25 starts. Russell's 25 starts are the fewest (by 15) that any QB taken with the No. 1 selection in the NFL draft has made for his original team.
The Raiders are so scarred by Russell they won't let any quarterback wear his No. 2, which is why Terrell Pryor wears No. 6 instead of the familiar No. 2 he wore at Ohio State.
Russell had tryouts with the Miami Dolphins and the Washington Redskins in 2010 but didn't make either team. With a weak free agent quarterback class headlined by Matt Moore, Jason Campbell and Drew Stanton, it wouldn't be unrealistic for Russell to get a look by an NFL team or two.
One of those teams could be the Minnesota Vikings.
While the Vikings aren't in the market for a starting quarterback (yet...), they could bring in the veteran Russell to compete with backups Joe Webb and McLeod Bethel-Thompson.
But in this case, the risk far outweighs the reward. While JaMarcus' talent may have warranted a first-round pick (he could reportedly throw the ball 80 yards from his knees) and while he is only 27 years old, the Vikings would be better off building a young quarterback that has played some form of competitive football the last three years.
And who isn't built like an offensive tackle. At 308 pounds, Russell would be heavier than the offensive line protecting him. In fact, the only starting lineman who isn't outweighed by Russell is Phil Loadholt (343 lbs).
Just ask Tiki Barber, the three-time Pro Bowler who retired in 2006, how hard it is to come back after retirement. Barber, who is synonymous with "failed NFL comeback", tried to make an NFL comeback last season at age 36 but didn't gauge any real interest from anybody.
Russell's return is something Bleacher Report has paid very close attention to and have started a mini-series of documentaries about Russell's progress that can be viewed here.
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