The Raider Ramble briefly revisits 2007 on a less than memorable ten year anniversary…
A decade ago the Oakland Raiders were in the unfortunate position of having the top pick in the NFL draft and took a young man with some of the most gifted physical abilities ever seen at the collegiate level. Hailing from Mobile, Alabama, JaMarcus Russell had a missile for an arm as he could throw it 60 yards on one knee which added to his excitement thus led to his selection by the late Al Davis with the purpose of resurrecting what had become the NFL’s doormat; the Silver and Black.
Russell went 25-4 as a starter at LSU, threw for over 50 touchdown passes and amassed over 6,000 passing yards; these totals are yet to be eclipsed in the LSU record books as no one comes close to what the former Tigers QB accomplished. The prototypical “can’t miss” prospect, Russell was to be the savior Davis had been waiting for, but it never materialized and on the ten year anniversary of his contract signing; we can look back and see its doomed beginning.
Russell signed a six-year contract that was worth $68 million, and $35 million of it was guaranteed, and looking back it is a ludicrous amount of money for such unproven talent. However, this was the norm before the NFL changed rookie salaries.
Then head coach Lane Kiffin wanted to take Calvin Johnson with the first selection, but in the end, Davis called the shots and drafted what he thought was the man to bring Oakland back to prominence. The contract mentioned above was not signed until after the season had started and when Russell finally saw the field in December he went a mere 4 of 7 for 56 yards. Three weeks later the train kept rolling the wrong way with four turnovers against Jacksonville and three more in his first start playing the San Diego Chargers.
Many things went wrong after that September signing, from poor performances to instability in the front office and the inability to win games. Many look back and have realized while Russell did not help himself, the Raiders’ environment wasn’t a nurturing one to grow a franchise QB. The 2007 regime was certainly not one that could lead to a rebuild like say, the current one under general manager Reggie McKenzie who drafted quarterback Derek Carr, a player that was able to do what Rusell couldn’t which ironically was “Just Win Baby.” Although it took Carr late into his rookie year to nab his first victory, the foundation has been laid and the Silver and Black are back and stopping for no one.