JaMarcus Russell is attempting an NFL comeback, and he got a boost from an excellent piece ESPN aired on Sunday.
The story, which was called, “JaMarcus Russell, Waking Up,” did an excellent job humanizing Russell. In less than 12 minutes, the video powerfully tells the story of Russell going from top high school talent to No. 1 NFL draft pick to bust. It delves into Russell’s personal life and suggests that Russell’s poor 2009 season — which was his last in the NFL — was the result of his inability to focus and mourn following the death of two of his uncles, including one with whom he was close.
Quotes from Russell like, “Just cause you got money doesn’t mean you’re not human,” make you empathize with him.
His mother’s comments concerning the codeine arrest were equally moving.
“It was the worst day of my life,” she says. “All this hard work trying to raise him to be the right, productive young man, I just felt like I had failed.”
The video did an excellent job of transforming Russell from a punchline to a legitimately sympathetic figure, which was probably the goal. It attempted to explain why he failed in 2009, and why he deserves and is ready for a second chance.
Though the video did an excellent job making a sales pitch for a team to give Russell another shot, I can understand why teams would be skeptical of signing him. Russell had such a poor work ethic during his first stint in the NFL, it would be hard to believe he could do a 180.
But, kudos to Russell for at least attempting the comeback, getting his story out there, and not being bashful about admitting his past problems. Hopefully he remains in decent shape even if he doesn’t get another shot. We certainly wouldn’t want to see Russell at 315 pounds again, because that is not a good look for him: