The last time former LSU quarterback JaMarcus Russell played in an NFL game, President Barack Obama had just entered office. It has been almost nine years since Russell was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2007 NFL Draft, but he still maintains — at 30 years old — that he can shed his reputation as a bust and make an NFL comeback.
Russell is being profiled by Sports Illustrated as part of the “SI Films” series. The Alabama native reveals that he has been writing letters to NFL teams in an attempt to convince them to give him a shot at a return, even offering to play for free on the scout team.
Sports Illustrated retrieved an excerpt from a letter Russell wrote the Dallas Cowboys last year:
“I am writing this letter to reach out to the Cowboys organization and to express my desire and interest to become a part of your family. Let me begin by saying that if you are reading this letter, I am greatly appreciative of you taking time from your busy schedule to do so. Let me also say that I don’t write this letter with any preconceived notions of a huge salary or unseating your current starting quarterback. I am willing to work my way in and up. I am willing to lead the scout team for free for one year just to get experience in your system. I want to learn the playbook, sit under the proper tutelage and learn from your coaching staff. After that time, if you see fit to allow me to stay with the Cowboys organization, I would be eternally grateful.
“As a former NFL player, I understand the daily grind that football operations can be,” Russell wrote. “I am prepared to be physically examined and to have my football IQ evaluated. I would sincerely like an opportunity to come to Dallas and meet with you and the coaching staff. I know that my name does not carry much weight in the NFL right now but I am more than the image that others have bestowed on me. I’ve been labeled as a bust, I have been labeled as lazy and I have been the target of many insults by the media. The blame for any negative press that I’ve received rests squarely on my shoulders.”
Russell flamed out after just three NFL seasons, totaling 18 touchdowns and 23 interceptions for the Oakland Raiders. His career was clouded by criticism of his conditioning and preparedness after he held out of his first training camp with the Raiders. He ultimately received a contract with $32 million guaranteed, but never pieced together any consistent stretch of success.
The former LSU star attempted a comeback in 2013, but didn’t gain any traction. Will the second time be the charm?