As a high school and college athlete, JaMarcus Russell put up the kind of numbers that usually get paired with “number one pick” in the draft. Unfortunately, Russell's NFL career came nowhere near the obvious potential he possessed as a player and he is often considered one of the biggest busts in NFL draft history, if not the king of flaming out in a highly competitive sports league.
What kind of numbers are there to JaMarcus Russell net worth estimations? Is this legendary bust one of those NFL players who carefully invested his money or did he lose most of it? Let's take a deep look at this player who is mostly famous for the wrong reasons and get a look at where his money went. Doing so can serve as a cautionary tale for anyone interested in a sports career.
JaMarcus Russell Net Worth
JaMarcus Russell is a former quarterback who played in the NFL for a few seasons with the Oakland Raiders. He was the first overall pick by the struggling team in the 2007 NFL Draft and was an immediate sensation for the wrong reasons: a contract holdout. He couldn't agree to a contract until the second week of the season and was already setting a questionable example for himself.
While Russell eventually earned the massive contract that he demanded, he hasn't kept most of that money. According to multiple sources, Russell earned about $39 million during his short NFL career of just three active years. However, JaMarcus Russell net worth estimations are not good compared to that high value. He likely has just $4 million left of that major payout after signing his rookie contract.
Russell's full contract was $61 million with $39 million in guaranteed money. Russell's quick flameout in the league, including a few legendary moments of poor behavior, caused a major financial problem for Oakland after they released him and pushed them into irrelevancy for many years. It may have even been the deciding factor in their relocation many years later.
Interestingly, Russell's huge contract had a positive influence on the NFL. After he quickly left the league without making a positive impact. In 2010, the owners and players created a new agreement that set a standard salary for rookies that ensured teams never got hit with such a huge cap. It has helped teams that drafted poorly rebound more quickly and trade assets easily.
A Promising Young Career
JaMarcus Russell was born in Mobile, Alabama and came from a very poor family. As a large and athletic teen, he was a clear favorite for the football team and never missed a game, starting for four years and completing 180 of 324 passes for 2,683 yards and 20 touchdowns in his freshman season alone and 2,616 yards and 20 touchdowns in his sophomore years as a player.
Russell then joined Louisiana State University and was their starting player for three years before he skipped his senior year to join the NFL. Russell's biggest moment in college was likely his win in the Sugar Bowl. When he finished his three-year career, he'd played 36 games, completed 493 passes in 797 attempts for a percentage rating of 61.9 percent, 6,625 yards, and 52 touchdowns to 21 interceptions.
Before the draft, Russell posted impressive stats, including a height of over six feet five, a bulky but spry 265 pounds, an arm length of nearly 33 inches, and a hand span of nearly 10 inches. Russell ran the 40 yard dash in 4.72 seconds, the 10-yard split in 1.67 seconds, and had a vertical jump of 31 inches. There were few reasons to doubt that he would transition to the NFL with ease if he desired.
A Bust in the NFL
JaMarcus Russell came into the NFL with a lot of high expectations, even with his questionable antics, before getting signed. However, then coach Lane Kiffin didn't start Russell immediately, claiming that he didn't have “everything mastered” and that they wanted to help him ease his way into the professional game. The truth was that, behind the scenes, Kiffin did not trust Russell as a player.
Years later, he claimed that he didn't want to draft Russell and had preferred wide receiver Calvin Johnson, a future Hall of Fame receiver who was drafted by the Detroit Lions. Matt Millen, then the Lions general manager, said he also warned the Raiders' owner Al Davis that Russell was a “stiff” who had a hard time paying attention to anything for more than five minutes.
As a result, Russell didn't play with the Raiders until relieving Josh McCown on December 2 of 2007. During his two series, he completed four of seven passes for 56 yards. On a December 23 game, Russell threw a two-yard touchdown but otherwise played poorly, hitting just seven of 23 passes for 83 yards and throwing three interceptions and losing a fumble. In his first career start in the season's final game, he was intercepted twice and lost a fumble.
On the season, Russell had just 36 completed passes on 66 attempts for 373 yards, two touchdowns, and four interceptions. In spite of these questionable stats, Kiffin named him the starting quarterback for the next season, likely due to pressure from Raider's owner Al Davis.
The 2008 Season
While starting in Oakland, Russell still struggled to find a good rhythm with the offense. He led his team to a 5-10 record and passed for just 2,473 yards and 13 touchdowns. Russell did show some signs of improvement and all the blame for his team's struggles couldn't be laid at his feet. However, Russell was throwing too many errant passes and not adapting well to the NFL.
One of the big reasons for this problem was his legendary unwillingness to study. Football had come easily for Russell as a high school and college player, but the NFL was far more challenging. His size and athleticism wasn't enough to get him by in the league but he never adapted. For example, he was once given nothing but blank tapes by his coaches to study overnight and later claimed he'd watched all of them at home.
The 2009 Season and Beyond
His 2009 season was not much better, as he went 2-7 in the nine games he started and had the lowest ranking among starting quarterbacks in the NFL. Even worse, he showed up to the 2010 training camp at nearly 300 pounds and had little interest in improving his game. The team eventually released him in 2010, which led to a series of lawsuits and countersuits between the two parties.
Eventually, the Raiders paid Russell $3 million of his demanded $9 million simply for him to go away. The team had been seeking $9.55 million from the player in their suit but the settlement helped them get rid of an expensive player and move on with better quarterback prospects.
While JaMarcus Russell net worth estimates still put him at about $4 million, he has had many financial and legal troubles after his career finished. For example, the $2-4 million home that he owned in Oakland was foreclosed and taken from him after he failed to make $200,000 in mortgage payments. Later, he was hit with a $223,180 tax lien for his 2008 tax return.
Russell also ran into legal troubles back home in Mobile when arrested for possession of controlled substances. He was part of a lengthy undercover operation and sting by the police that caught him with codeine syrup. Russell had been using this substance, known as purple drank, throughout his NFL career, including testing positive for it after the 2007 NFL Draft that took him to Oakland.
Since these financial and legal troubles, Russell seems to have found some peace. While he attempted to join other NFL teams after 2010, he never got another contract, even after he allegedly wrote to all 32 teams and offered to play for free for one year to prove himself. Instead, he has spent time coaching football at Williamson High School in Mobile and has mostly lived a quiet life.
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Written by Allen Lee
Read more posts by Allen Lee