JaMarcus Russell broke? No way says the 26-year-old.
If you’ve forgotten who JaMarcus Russell is, that’s probably because he lasted in the NFL for about the length of time it’ll take to read this story. The Oakland Raiders’ 2007 number one draft pick is considered one of the biggest busts in NFL history, and many of his critics say it’s because he’s a fat, lazy junkie that didn’t care enough about football and took his opportunity for granted – and ended up broke in the process. Russell fought back against all of the claims in a recent interview with Sports Illustrated, and has even put himself back on the free agent train to try and rebuild his career.
Russell’s perception as ‘lazy’ came mostly in his appearance, as he often seemed out of shape, and also from the stories of him falling asleep in team meetings as a rookie. "In the NFL, my first year, I had to be there at 6:30 before practice and be on the treadmill for an hour," he says in the Sports Illustrated interview. "Then meetings come, I sit down, eat my fruit. We watch film, and maybe I got tired. Coach Flip [quarterback coach John DeFilippo] pulled me aside and said, 'What are you doing for night life?' I said, 'Coach, I'm just chilling.' He said, 'I need to get you checked out.' I did the sleep test, and they said I had apnea."
In response to criticisms of his physique, Russell says "I put weight on easy, and I can take it off easy. Do I look fat now?" (Sports Illustrated writer L. Jon Wertheim notes that Russell isn't in tip-top NFL shape but doesn't look far from it.)
One of the most infamous moments of Russell’s time in the spotlight came when he was arrested in July, 2010 for possession of codeine, a controlled substance also known as purple drank or 'syzzurp.' Russell admits in his interview that he failed a NFL drug test, but says he was taking codeine to combat his sleep apnea. "I don't have a drug problem…What I do have is police trailing every car I got like I'm some dope dealer."
And what about claims that JaMarcus Russell is broke and had his Oakland mansion foreclosed on? Russell says these allegations are false too, telling SI he sold the house. "Football isn't paying me now," he says. "You make $1 million a game and you can do whatever. It's not like that anymore; I need to put myself in a place where those zeroes in the bank last for a long time. But I'm not broke. Far from it."
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