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“Looking Back” On The 2007 NFL Draft: JaMarcus Russell The Bust

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Quick! We need more buildup to the NFL Draft! The top prospects do not have enough pressure on them. Will they bust or become perennial Pro Bowlers? Matt Sussman and Tuffy examine both sides of each coin, writing articles from the year 2011 “looking back” on the top 2007 draft picks. Just another reason to own a flux capacitor.

JaMarcus Russell as a Bust

CLEVELAND — The Cleveland Browns, ending an era of missed opportunities and frustration for fans and players alike, released JaMarcus Russell today. The third pick of the 2007 draft never met the lofty expectations placed on him by a desperate community.

When Russell first shook hands with Phil Savage and Romeo Crennel in front of the assembled Cleveland media in 2007, his potential was as massive as his frame. Even Crennel, a former defensive lineman, stood in awe of Russell’s body. “He’s a biggun, isn’t he?” joked Crennel.

Russell’s arm was legend before the draft. He showed off before the 2007 Sugar Bowl by throwing the ball nearly the length of the field and then sitting on the turf to throw another ball 40 yards. Lesser men tried to catch a Russell Express and earned broken fingers for their trouble.

Stuart Scott, carefully keeping his distance from the demonstration, noted to an ESPN colleague that Russell was fully capable of bettering Daunte Culpepper’s best days. Scott creatively nicknamed Russell the Brown Cannon. While Russell was somewhat inexperienced compared to Brady Quinn, a fellow 2007 draftee, his athleticism provided a future previously unimaginable for Cleveland fans: a positive one.

The first hint of trouble came only two days later. The press conference introducing Russell came after a contract was agreed to but before it was formally signed. While both sides blamed the other, sources from both sides suggest Eric Metz, Russell’s agent, encouraged Russell to press his advantage. Minor contract requests regarding entourages, locker room amenities, and a request for a steady stream of Vanilla Oreos turned into an extended holdout.

While Russell did eventually report to camp, it was far too late to learn the playbook in time to play more than a few downs in the last preseason game and observe for most of another miserable Browns campaign. His first start as a professional in Week 17 ended in a cascade of boos as he failed to complete more than half his passes and was sacked four times in a 42-14 loss to the Packers.

From there, Russell walked a well-worn path to failure. Hurt feelings from Browns fans that expect their stars to understand the privilege of playing in Cleveland never truly subsided. Perhaps the lowest point came when a snowball that hit him in the helmet at Paul Brown Stadium led to a verbal confrontation with a fan in front of the fan’s four-year-old girl that required numerous half-hearted apologies to finally move on from. A false positive for a controlled substance (implied to be marijuana) leaked to the press only confirmed stereotypes for the angry Browns fan.

On the field, Russell never improved his college style of play, holding the ball much longer than feasible for a pro quarterback and relying on his cannon. He never mastered the playbook, which was trimmed back numerous times to give more opportunities for mastery. He spent most of his last two seasons looking up from either the turf or a trainer’s table. His oblique injury in Week 12 this season was almost a relief, knocking him out for the rest of the season.

With his athletic build and rocket arm still intact, a few teams are believed to be interested in Russell. His new agent, Leigh Steinberg, insists his client has turned over a new leaf and has been working out with a new trainer this offseason. The Chicago Bears, looking at their fourth new Week 1 starting quarterback in five years, are expected to be the lead suitor.

Now read Matt Sussman’s take on JaMarcus Russell being a star.

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  • Matthew T. Sussman

    “Scott creatively nicknamed Russell the Brown Cannon.”

    HA! Strikethrough works over here.

  • Mike

    What a shame!! How can you prejudge this young man when he hasnt yet took a single snap in the NFL. This young man has had to suffer to reach the level he is at right now, he was brought up in a rough neighborhood, yet never got into any trouble. A classy youngman who was brought up by a classy family, a man who have always dreamed about playing pro football. Did you know he played all of the 2005 season with torn wrist ligaments? Stop pre-judging this young man, let him have a chance to prove himself before labelling him as a bust.

  • Matthew T. Sussman

    “How can you prejudge this young man when he hasnt yet took a single snap in the NFL.”

    Surprisingly, quite easily!

  • Tuffy

    Mike, he’s welcome to prove me wrong any time he likes.

  • david c.

    nice to see you tear down more than adrian peterson.

    A Look Back at a Writer’s Look Ahead at 2007 NFL Draft Picks and their misfortunes: Tuffy the Bust

    Tuffy decided to start a blog and a website. It started off great. He was critiquing tv shows and posting clips of funny thinks that happened on tv and talking about them. Everyone enjoyed the site.

    Then ____ months/years/days into the site Tuffy decides he needs to predict the future. While he is writing about NFL draft busts he gets hungry.

    He goes to the kitchen to cook up some roman. As he is getting it out of the microwave it slips out of his hand and lands on his mother’s cat, Erick. Tuffy laughs at the cat and goes to get another cup of roman. His mom saw the whole thing and she decides its time.

    “Get out of my house you slacker!,” Mom says. “Don’t bother gathering anything up. Just get out.”

    Tuffy listened to mom. After all she does pay for everything. He walks to the store to buy the latest edition of US and People.

    He can’t believe the latest story on Tom and Katie and starts talking to himself aloud. The 16-year cashier tells him to shut up. Tuffy has had enough and starts a slapfight. A sacker/bagger comes up and hits him in the back of the head with a stalk of celery. Tuffy loses his footing and his left hand gets caught in the conveyor belt and faints at the thought of breaking his fingers.

    Tuffy wakes up in the hospital and his worst fears are realized. The doctor tells him he has broken four fingers and tells him he shouldn’t type ever again.

    Tuffy bursts into tears and asks if he will ever be able to use his hand again.

    The doctor says, “Yeah, but I am recommending that you not type for a long time.”

    Tuffy asks why.

    “Because after reading one of your 2007 Draft Busts stories I realize you have no business writing in the first place.”

    Tuffy now works at the grocery story … next to the guy that hit him in the head with a stalk of celery. They are planning to go watch Blades of Glory after their shift.

  • Matthew T. Sussman

    Roman noodles are so hard to find at the grocery story these days.

  • El Bicho

    “Roman noodles are so hard to find at the grocery story these days.”

    See spaghetti.

    It looks like this column is rendered a bust as Tuffy appears to be the only person who didn’t know Russell was going to the Raiders.

  • james Thorne

    Her it hear first…..
    Ja MakeA Hustle (JaMarcus Rusel) That is his new name if he can screw the Raiders into an guaranteed contract to screw them some more. This Punk is not worth it. Sure her can throw a football over the stadium but hoe many points does that make ???? Zero…000. He will be just another punk that will not last in the NFL, much like Rappers in Music history.

    enough said and notice I can spell…