“I knew it was coming one day, but I didn’t know it was coming so soon.”
Balding and beer-bellied, JaMarcus Russell has seen better days. Many unkind things have been said about the former LSU signal-caller-turned-historic-bust, but because it’s always good to hear both sides of the story, ESPN has put together an eleven-minute clip that just might make you reevaluate how you feel about Russell.
What really resonates is the pain Russell shows when talking about his deceased uncle, described as a father figure. Those are real, genuine tears he’s shedding. Anybody who’s ever lost someone close knows the feeling: first comes the dreaded sugar lump, then the tears in your eyes begin to well, and before you know it, you’re full-on crying. And it comes when you least want it to, when you’re trying your hardest to keep the pain at bay.
If nothing else, the anecdote is a very large piece to the “what the hell happened to Jamarcus Russell” puzzle. Losing such an important role model would be tough for anybody; juggling that with the pressures that come with being the number one overall pick, and Russell’s fate starts to make a lot more sense.
Fast-forward to present day, and we see an energized and motivated quarterback taking current trainer and former NFL quarterback Jeff Garcia’s help, trying his hardest to shed both monumental amounts of weight (Russell’s down from 315 to 285 and working to get to 270) and that dreaded “bust” label. Has his ship sailed? As Michael Vick proved, NFL comebacks aren’t impossible. And if they’re successful? Whew, will the money come in. Book deals, shinny new endorsements, everything.
At the very least, by opening himself up for the world to see, Jamarcus Russell has done some major damage control, partially restoring a reputation that many of us (myself included) were too lazy to do our research on. Whether or not he catches on with an NFL team, Russell certainty seems to have the emotional support that was never fully realized in Oakland.
That’s something you can’t put a price on.