You can lead a horse to water. But you can’t make him drink.
What happens if the person leading that horse was chasing an oasis in the desert?
In that case, the dehydrated donkey is as confused as the foolish caballero.
In other words, Al Davis is as much to blame for the JaMarcus Russell debacle as Russell is himself. No excuses needed for JaMarcus. He made his own bed and his lethargic legacy is going to sleep in it until Tim Tebow jerseys become the most useless rags since Silver and Black #2 shirts.
Russell never took football serious. This wasn’t a job for him. This was a paid vacation with occasional costume parties on Sunday afternoons.
It takes something special to be great, something that can’t be quantified but most certainly can be personified. The one thing that all great athletes of the modern era have in common is a tireless work ethic and an unquenchable thirst to improve.
Don’t take my word for it, just look around the sports world and see for yourself.
Sure, it took Tiger Woods seeing pictures of his skanks plastered across magazine covers at the supermarket checkout line to get his priorities in order. Make no mistake that golf always took priority though. His game speaks for itself.
Floyd Mayweather spends a lot of time bragging about his millions. However he spends a lot more time training to ensure those millions keep coming in. His game speaks for itself.
Alexander Ovechkin parties like a sailor on shore leave. But he also knows when to leave that drunken shipman on drydock and clock in. His game speaks for itself.
Nobody’s perfect but that doesn’t mean it’s pointless to pursue perfection.
JaMarcus Russell has a million dollar paycheck and a penniless work rate. His game more than spoke for itself.
And how Al Davis could fall so head over heels for a McLaren F1 with a 50cc 2-stroke scooter engine under the hood is as sad a commentary on his own selfish pride as it is on JaMarcus Russell. Davis enabled Russell through every fateful twist of his downward spiral.
When Russell was reporting to camp as if he’d been training to take down Joey Chestnut, Davis turned a blind eye. Davis even went as far as to defend Russell while simultaneously comparing him to Jim Plunkett and Ken Stabler.
Let’s be clear about something. On the spectrum of quarterbacks in Raiders history, Stabler and Plunett are on one end and JaMarcus is at the other end toiling in darkness with the likes of Todd Marinovich and Andrew Walter.
When Russell was clearly not ready to be given the keys to the Cadillac, Davis let him take the wheel on a road trip to Vegas. Almost literally as Uncle Al covered for his favorite nephew when he skipped out on his teammates to get a head start on the off-season.
In addition to making excuses for the $39-million mistake, Davis didn’t do Russell any favors on the field either. When a young QB needed stability, Davis fired up the projector. When the inaccurate Russell needed a dependable target, Davis drafted a receiver with questionable hands. When JaMarcus should have been sitting and learning, Davis ensured he would have the best view in the house for all those three and outs at the Oakland Coliseum.
Even I’ve done my fare share of defending Russell. At some point it became more than obvious that the 25-watt bulb under his Raider beanie was never going to light up. Even at that point, Davis still stuck to his young gun.
Nothing is promised these days. Contracts that take months to negotiate can be voided in a matter of minutes. JaMarcus wasn’t paying much attention to how fast DeAngelo Hall blew in and out of the East Bay. Russell underestimated the one thing which Mr. Davis values over speed – his profit margin.
Even the stubborn pride of Al Davis wouldn’t stand back and watch another year of dwindling ticket sales.
Do the math.
$39-million for 31 games, 25 starts, 25 fumbles, 23 interceptions, 18 touchdowns, 18 losses, 7 wins and 0 300-yards passing games.
You don’t need a degree from Cal Tech to know what kind of a return you’re going to see on your money with those figures.
So feel free to curse JaMarcus for eternity. Burn every #2 item in your possession. Just know that were it not for Al Davis getting a Viagara induced reaction for a strong armed loafer, you’d have never coughed up the cash for your now worthless authentic jersey.