Raiders Fan Burns Russell Jersey

I know, I’ve been taking a lot of shots at JaMarcus Russell lately.  It’s not his fault the Raiders were stupid enough to take him with their first overall pick when LBS knew they shouldn’t.  And yes, I spent a good chunk of my efforts yesterday breaking down why Russell doesn’t stand a chance of starting for an NFL team any time in the near future — or ever.  But I just came across a video that is pretty funny and I had to share it — especially in lieu of one of JaMarcus’ ex-coaches calling him a “binge eater”.  Out of all the reasons to complain about Russell, the guy in this video clearly takes the most issue with his weight, which I thought was hilarious.  Also, if I’m not mistaking, the number and letters on this jersey are stitched, meaning it was probably relatively expensive so this guy must absolutely despise the ex-Raider.

Jersey burning has been a go-to move for fans in the past when players leave, or they are generally unhappy with them.  Packers fans torched Favre’s jersey after he signed with the division rival Vikings, but that was for a much different reason.  Fans were unhappy that the greatest Packer in history left Green Bay to sign with arguably their most hated rival — not angry at him because he wasted their time like Russell’s jersey burners. Here’s the video of a Raiders fan burning JaMarcus Russell’s jersey, courtesy of You Been Blinded via Sports by Brooks.

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Raiders Fans Burn JaMarcus Russell Jersey [You Been Blinded]

Will JaMarcus Russell Ever Start Again?

Al Davis has finally come to his senses.  Well, at least regarding former first-overall pick JaMarcus Russell, whom the Raiders finally released Thursday afternoon.  Russell’s release of course makes him a free agent and raises an obvious question — who wants him?  My guess is a quarterback with a scouting report that includes more about buying jewelry, eating too much, and a lack of effort on the field than it does about physical abilities and on-field success will have a tremendous amount of trouble finding a suitor for his services — if you want to call them that.

The Raiders have shelled out more than $36 million to Russell since drafting him with their first overall selection in the 2007 Draft.  They will pay him $3 million more this season after cutting him, but the move also saves them $6.45 million.  Simply put, Russell should consider himself lucky he’s already made a fortune because no team is shelling out even close to big bucks to add him to their roster this off season, in this economy, with this type of uncertainty surrounding the NFL’s labor agreement.

Let’s have a little fun with this anyways.  Is there a chance that any team would take a shot at adding perhaps the biggest NFL Draft bust this decade?  Here’s a division-by-division quarterback analysis that might help shed a little light on whether or not Russell has even a fraction of a chance of being a starter in the NFL again.

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LenDale White: Titans Struggled Because They Didn’t Give me the Ball Enough

The Titans struggled last season going 8-8, a year after they went 13-3 which was the best record in the NFL. Running back LenDale White’s carries dropped significantly from 200 in 2008 to 64 in 2009. At the same time, fellow running back Chris Johnson’s carries increased from 251 in 2008 to 358 in 2009, and Johnson produced one of the best all-time seasons by a running back. Regardless, LenDale explained to Petros and Money on FOX Sports Radio (via Pro Football Talk and Sports Radio Interviews) that he feels like the shift away from himself towards Johnson resulted in Tennessee slipping last season:

I think what happened was in Tennessee they probably got a little too carried away with the Chris Johnson thing. The year before that we were 13-3 when I had two hundred carries and we split the rock. Chris went to the Pro Bowl and we had the first round bye, they did things different the next year and we struggled to make the playoffs. It is what it is. It is the same offense down here in Seattle. I am very familiar.

It’s interesting to note that White brought this up on his own in response to a question about Seattle’s offensive system. He also reiterated the same point later in the interview, saying “If we would have kept things the same, if we would have just kept running the ball being the team that we normally would be, I think things would have worked out.” While I respect LenDale’s opinion and appreciate his confidence and attitude, I completely disagree. Of every reason why the Titans struggled last season, LenDale not getting the ball enough and Chris Johnson getting it too much is probably last on my list. Much higher up would be the inability of Kerry Collins to make plays, losing Albert Haynesworth to free agency, the multiple injuries to the secondary early in the season, and switching to Vince Young too late in the season. While the Titans did get carried away trying to get Chris Johnson to 2,000 rushing yards in their last game of the season, Johnson’s stellar play is one of the few reasons they weren’t worse than 8-8 last season.

LenDale White has an interesting theory about the ’09 Titans [Pro Football Talk]
LenDale White: “I think it was just time for me to move on.” [Sports Radio Interviews]

JaMarcus Russell Is a ‘Binge Eater’

Not to pile on Raiders destined to be released quarterback JaMarcus Russell, but allow me to pile on. Russell has taken heat for spending “more time in the jewelry store than the film room” and for being the biggest bust this side of Ryan Leaf, but even more details to his flakiness were revealed over the weekend. The San Francisco Chronicle via Rotoworld has some details on Russell as revealed in an episode of Outside the Lines:

One anonymous ex-coach calls Russell a “binge eater”

Jon Ritchie, a former Raider who didn’t play with Russell, said he heard that Russell fell asleep in meetings. Former teammate Dominic Rhodes verified that, and it also came out the Russell would sometimes take breaks from meetings, forget to come back and need to be fetched. “I don’t think he has the mindset to be great,” Rhodes said.

That last quote from Rhodes is like the understatement of the century. The surprise isn’t what these people said but rather the reports over the weekend that Russell was the best looking quarterback at Oakland’s minicamp (after the first day). At least that’s some good news; you figure if Russell had any modicum of pride he’d be out to prove everybody wrong. I sure hope so.

Ex-teammates rip JaMarcus [San Francisco Chronicle]

Sean Payton Issues Statement Denying Theft and Use of Vicodin

On Friday, former New Orleans Saints security director Geoff Santini sued the team alleging that two “senior staff members” — who were not identified at the time — were involved with the stealing of prescription pain killers from the team’s drug cabinet and ordered him to keep quiet about it.  Earlier today, Pro Football Talk reported that through anonymous sources they had determined that the two staff members are assistant head coach Joe Vitt and head coach Sean Payton.

According to the allegations — and that’s all they are at this point — and the Pro Football Talk report, Vitt has a “painful medial condition” and Payton does not.  The lawsuit alleges that Payton (if he is indeed “Senior Staff Member A”) and Vitt (if he is “Senior Staff Member B”) were receiving enough of the painkiller Vicodin to constitute abuse.  A more recent Pro Football Talk report contains a statement released by Payton saying he neither stole nor abused Vicodin.  If the pieces are correctly aligned to this point and Payton is indeed “Senior Staff Member A”, the lawsuit has not accused him of actually stealing the pills anyway, only receiving enough to constitute abuse.  Here is the Payton statement regarding the Vicodin issue, courtesy of Pro Football Talk.

“I have reviewed Geoff Santini’s lawsuit and the unwarranted publicity it has received. I have never abused or stolen vicodin or any other medication and I fully support the Saints’ position in this matter as expressed by Greg Bensel yesterday.‬‪”

Payton did not directly say whether or not he was indeed “Senior Staff Member A”, but certainly seems to be denying any involvement with the issue altogether at this point.  We’ll see where this goes next.

Suit against New Orleans Saints alleges Vicodin thefts [Nola.com]
Sean Payton implicated in alleged Vicodin theft at Saints facility [Pro Football Talk]
Sean Payton denies abusing or stealing Vicodin [Pro Football Talk]

Brett Favre’s Ambiguous Comment About Minnesota vs. Green Bay

With minicamps getting started across the NFL, what better time than now for Brett Favre to let the world know that he needs ankle surgery to continue playing? Of course it might not be Favre who sparked the discussion — he might have just been replying to an email from ESPN reporter Ed Werder. Just that Favre gave Werder a story regarding Favre’s need for surgery on his injured ankle confirms what I believed during the season, that Favre was Werder’s source for the Panthers benching story. Beyond what Favre said about needing ankle surgery to continue playing, I thought one part of his email was particularly ambiguous. Were his thoughts about Minnesota a compliment to the state and team, a crack on Green Bay, neither, or both? Here’s what he said:

“To play again, I would need the surgery, as I suspected. This decision would be easy if not for my teammates and the fans and the entire Vikings staff. One year truly felt like 10 — much like Green Bay for many years. That’s what I was missing in my heart I suppose, a sense of belonging.”

That’s a pretty ambiguous comment from Favre. Is he saying that the atmosphere in Minnesota was so welcoming that they treated him like he were one of their own, as if he had played there for 10 years rather than just one as a newcomer? Is he saying that Minnesota treated him the way he was treated in Green Bay for 10 years before the Packers’ front office began pushing him out? I’m guessing he meant the former, just that Minnesota was extremely welcoming. However, I do interpret his “much like Green Bay for many years” line as Brett pointing out that things were rosy in Green Bay most of his career until things soured at the end. The one part that’s not ambiguous is his last line where he confirms he just wanted to belong. Yup, despite being a megastar and Hall of Fame athlete, Brett Favre has a need to be loved and appreciated like everyone else.

Favre still has pain in ankle [ESPN]

Santonio Holmes Escorted Off Plane for Being ‘Disruptive’

When he makes headlines like this, the Steelers must feel pretty good about shipping Santonio Holmes off to the Jets for a measly 5th round pick.  According to investigators, Holmes had to be escorted off of a flight at Pittsburgh International Airport on Thursday night for being a “disruptive passenger”.  No further details about the situation are known — and Santonio wasn’t arrested — but this certainly isn’t the type of publicity the Superbowl 43 MVP needs if he wants to convince fans and the NFL that he’s going to clean up his act.

Holmes is already going to miss the first four games of the upcoming season when he serves a suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy.  Depending on what comes of this situation, Roger Goodell might decide to sideline him for a few more games.  The Jets don’t have a lot invested in Holmes after only giving up a fifth rounder, but they could certainly use the help at wide receiver and would probably prefer that he straighten out his act.  Between Cromartie, Holmes, and the loud mouths in the Jets organization (led by their head coach), it could turn out to be an entertaining soap opera of a year in New York.

UPDATE: According to ESPN, the reason Santonio Holmes was escorted from the flight was because he refused to turn off his iPod when the crew asked that all electronic devices be turned off so the plane could take off.  Wow.  Has he ever been on a plane before?  I’m pretty much speechless, so here’s what Rex Ryan had to say:

“I know what has been told to me and it kind of got blown out of proportion it sounds like in some of the media outlets and things. I mean, OK, lets face it, he should turn off his iPod. That’s what he should do. He should do that. I haven’t had a chance to talk to Santonio, but he certainly should do that.”

“Disruptive” Santonio Holmes booted from a flight in Pittsburgh [WPXI via Pro Football Talk]
Report: Holmes removed from plane [ESPN]