Is he a bust? Is he a prodigy? Is he uncaring? Is he even-keeled? Is he a follower? Is he a leader?
With each passing week, we get more questions than answers about JaMarcus Russell.
His performance thus far in ’09 has given his stock a strong endorsement to sell. However, his coaches and teammates still seem to be buying in.
So, who is the real JaMarcus Russell?
If we’re to believe he is the lazy, unmotivated and overpaid anchor that is weighing down the franchise, then why has his coach stuck behind him this long?
The truth is that nobody knows who this young man is.
Russell is a quiet recluse in front of the cameras whose sideline demeanor makes Tracy McGrady look passionate. His natural talent is undeniable. His upside is off the charts. His performance has been unwatchable.
When looking into this conundrum you’ll find that not even the Hindu deity Shiva has enough fingers to point blame.
The facts are frightening when one considers that this is supposed to be the face of the franchise: He missed most of his rookie season because of a long contract hold out. His original coach didn’t even want him on the roster. He’s never had a strong veteran presence to study under (Jeff Garcia doesn’t count. If you think that guy cared about helping anything other than his ego then you’ve also got to believe that Stephen Jackson is just misunderstood). He played the best football of his pro career to conclude 2008, yet has regressed in 2009. In a crucial year in his development, he lost his best wide receiver to injury and was given two rookies who are struggling to adjust to life in the NFL.
Yet still, we don’t really know if he is as bad as advertised or is as good as those close to him think he can be.
Getting behind the steel curtain in Oakland is an impossible task. The CIA would be hard pressed to get an inside source. Therefore, knowing what type of professional Russell really is becomes even more difficult.
It’s not like a coach sticking with a struggling quarterback is anything new. Matt Cassel isn’t exactly earning his eight-figure paycheck in Arrowhead, but he has yet to see the pine. JaMarcus got his first taste of humble pie last Sunday and one can only assume that he didn’t like the taste.
Truthfully though, we’ll never really know what goes on in Alameda from Monday to Saturday. All we see is the end product on Sunday.
Boomer Esiason seems to be the only human being privy to Russell’s supposed tardiness and lessened checkbook. It seems odd that nobody else corroborated Norman’s findings until Russell himself finally owned up to being fined. Of course, Russell said he was fined for his weight and not his attendance.
According to those in the know, during the off-season it was rare not to see JaMarcus around the team facility daily. This is hardly the stuff of which lazy quarterbacks are comprised.
None the less, his Sundays make his work week look like he’s sleeping through film sessions.
So which JaMarcus will make the trip to San Diego Sunday?
He’s still the starter one week after being benched. He’s still the future of the franchise despite his prospects looking as dim as a black hole in the abyss of space. He’s still the biggest question mark in pro football.
Is his time now or is it never to be?
We just don’t know and those who think they do don’t seem to have much of a finger on the pulse either.
I guess we’ll just have to watch again with that nervous feeling in our stomachs and that blind faith in our hearts. If Russell is the future, then he’d better call Doc Brown now. This franchise is one DeLorean that is running out of real estate as the hands on the clock tower near midnight.
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