In 2007 the Oakland Raiders used the first overall pick to select JaMarcus Russell of the LSU Tigers. The previous college football season JaMarcus led his LSU Tigers to an impressive bowl victory, propelling him to the number one overall NFL pick. Not only was JaMarcus a big, strong armed quarterback prospect, he was also alumnist of the almighty South East Conference. In case you don’t know, college football experts consider the South East Conference the Mt. Olympus of all college football conferences.
As the 2007 NFL season began, Raider fans’ and ownership’s expectations rose to lofty heights. Al Davis had finally found a quarterback with the requisite skill-set to employ the vertical brand of football his Raider teams popularized during the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s. However, when elevated into the starting quarterback role, JaMarcus found competition in the NFL to be not as forgiving as the competition he thrived on in the South East Conference…JaMarcus quickly found out that the NFL would stand for, “Not For Long.”
JaMarcus became the poster child for the toxicity germinating in the NFL…And was overpaid, under skilled, over weight player not committed to his craft who openly flaunted the new found wealth number one overall draft selection afforded him. JaMarcus would eventually flame out after three forgetable NFL seasons and labeled by experts the biggest quarterback bust in NFL history. As he exited the NFL, JaMarcus left an indelible legacy all future Black quarterbacks would unknowly have to follow. Since that 2007 draft, draft experts would consciously/sub-consciously scrutinize Black quarterbacks as a risky selection and possible “JaMarcus Russell.”
Conversely, in the 1998 NFL draft the Indianapolis Colts and San Diego Chargers would draft the two top rated college quarterbacks, Peyton Manning, and Ryan Leaf. By all accounts, both quarterbacks were, “Can’t miss.” The Colts would select Peyton Manning and the Chargers, Ryan Leaf. Well, we all know the career Peyton Manning would have…Ryan Leaf on the other hand went on to have a checkered “4” year career with the Chargers. Much like JaMarcus, Ryan Leaf had a poor work ethic, poor attitude, and lacked the requisite tools to be a successful NFL quarterback…To exacerbate matters, Ryan argued with teammates, coaches, and the media, leading to the Chargers to prematurely abort the Ryan Leaf experiment.
Since that 1998 draft, the likes of Tim Couch, Cade McKnown, Chad Pennington, David Carr, Joey Harrington, Patrick Ramsey, Kyle Boller, Rex Grossman, JP Losman, and Matt Leinart have been drafted in the first round of their respective drafts. Similarly, each of the quarterbacks have been utter draft busts.
However, in light of the above non-Black quarterbacks being as equally hearlded as JaMarcus Russell entering their respective drafts, and failing miserably at the NFL level, why do football experts continue to use JaMarcus Russell as the cautionary tale for perspective Black NFL quarterbacks, but never use Ryan Leaf or any of the identified busts when measuring the potential success/failure of non-Black quarterbacks? Is JaMarcus Russell really the biggest NFL quarterback bust or is Ryan Leaf or one of the identified draftees the bigger bust…Why are the non-Black quarterbacks who have failed in he NFL not judged as critically as the Black counterparts? Is this the JaMarcus Russell fallacy? What is your opinion?