JaMarcus Russell still isn’t ready for the NFL. That much seems clear after Jeff Garcia, who helped get Russell into shape over the summer, said that Russell was set back by his $3 million settlement with the Oakland Raiders.
"When he got that settlement from Oakland, that $3 million dollar-plus settlement, I think things got soft again," Garcia said via NFL.com. "I think the motivation might have changed a little bit.
"I just don't know if that fire, that hunger, continued to burn when all of a sudden he got money in his pocket again, and that's the unfortunate thing because that three months that he was with us, he really committed himself, we pushed him, we brought out the best of him. And if he would have continued along that path I think he could have been somebody special."
JaMarcus Russell was able to stir some mild interest over the offseason when he was able to work himself back into football shape, dropping the excess weight he had gained since his early playing days with the Raiders.
There’s no doubt players are driven by money. Let’s be honest for a moment. If accountants made seven figures and great NFL players made around $100,000 per year, there would be an elite level of accountants, and the NFL wouldn’t be stocked with the most athletic humans society has to offer.
Still, players are often driven by factors beyond just money, and those are the athletes that truly succeed. Athletes that are more interested in Super Bowls than padding their wallets and guys intent on being the best player they can be are far more likely to succeed in the NFL than players just hoping for a luxurious lifestyle. Unfortunately, it would appear that Russell only hopes for the latter and not the former.
Obviously, all is not lost for JaMarcus Russell. He may still find that fire that Jeff Garcia spoke of, but the longer he stays out of football, the less relevant he becomes. There’s no doubt that his $3 million settlement is a nice nest egg, but he could have been so much more, and maybe he will yet fulfill a bit of the expectations that led to his selection as a first overall pick by the Raiders.