JaMarcus Russell’s Comeback Attempt:Possibility or Pipe Dream?

Updated: April 8, 2013

By now you might have heard that quarterback JarMarcus Russell, former #1 overall pick from the 2007 NFL draft, is attempting to revive his career after being out of the league since 2009. One of the biggest draft busts of all time, Russell has been working out trying to get in better physical shape to make a comeback into the league.

Russell started working out a few weeks ago to shed the excess weight that prevented him from having a chance at being a productive NFL QB while he was still playing. Starting out over 300 pounds, Russell has lost around 30 in just less than two months, which shows a dedication that he definitely lacked while with the Raiders. With a target weight of 270 pounds, Russell certainly seems to be close to attaining that goal soon, but making weight is not the same as being ready to play quarterback in the NFL.

Even in his playing days, Russell’s career best completion percentage in which he had at least 200 passing attempts was 53.8%. That was the 2008 season in which the troubled QB threw for under 2,500 yards and just 13 touchdowns despite playing in all but one game that year. That 2008 season was Russell’s best in the league, which highlights the long journey he will face even after reaching his target weight. In simpler terms, he has to become a better player in addition to getting back in football shape. Most players who attempt comebacks after a few years away from the league were legitimate play makers. Russell never achieved his potential in his time in the league which means he has to put in more effort now then he ever did before.

It would be wrong to declare at this point in Russell’s comeback process that his goal of eventually being back on an NFL roster is impossible. Provided that he really is dedicated, it would not be that much of a stretch to think about Russell earning a chance to make a roster in training camp and earning a backup job holding a clipboard somewhere. It is particularly easy to imagine this season, as the quarterbacks coming into the league in this year’s draft are not exactly the most hyped in terms of their talent. All that being said, however, predicting Russell to be a productive starting QB somewhere down the line would be jumping the gun to say the least. That does not mean it is impossible, but we have to see Russell make it back into the league before we can start claiming he will be productive, something he never was in his first stint in Oakland.

I know it is tempting to think about a JaMarcus Russell who is as productive and as dangerous as say a Robert Griffin III or a Russell Wilson, but those two quarterbacks had the tools to be good passers coming into the NFL, tools JaMarcus obviously never had. For now Russell’s comeback story is a feel-good piece about a player trying to make amends, but it will be a long time, if ever, before he makes up for the colossal failure that was his first stint in the NFL.


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