"They booed Russell off the field when he was intercepted on the Raiders' second drive of the game, a play where Darrius Heyward-Bey slipped and fell on his route. They booed again on the Raiders' next drive, when Russell overthrew Heyward-Bey for another interception.
They booed every time after that when Russell took the field or threw an incomplete pass. It got so bad, left tackle Mario Henderson at one point clapped for Russell and patted his helmet while the crowd chanted, "JaMarcus sucks."
What did Russell say of it all? That both interceptions should have been ruled defensive pass interference, and that other than that, "I think I did all right. ... I try to play with no regrets."
He completed two passes to a wide receiver, both on the same second-quarter drive to Louis Murphy. Eight passes were check down screens to the running backs, and two went to tight end Zach Miller."
I wrote an article last week called The Regression of JaMarcus Russell. I would like to apologize to the members for something: I didn't go far enough when I was putting it together. JaMarcus Russell hasn't just regressed. He's gone all the way back to childhood. This is the kind of thing that you watch as if watching a car accident; horrified, but somehow unable to turn away.
Steve Cochran tried to help Russell out by clarifying things in a helpful article entitled, Raiders, Russell stink it up in 23-3 loss to Denver. This is what he had to say:
Russell was intercepted on back-to-back drives in the first quarter on passes that sailed over wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey. Russell said he felt as if the officials should have called pass interference on both plays.
"I can't control that," Russell said of the non-calls. "I can just control the way I prepare for the game and continue to come out and play."
On the one hand, this is breathtaking. I've only rarely seen a man so utterly self-involved that he considered himself to be 'doing his job' in the face of such overwhelming evidence. Russell has finally shown me exactly why he's advancing to the rear in his career choice and doing Denver the favor of taking the raiders with him - he may be one of the most oblivious human beings that I've ever watched, much less encountered. I stood clinic professionally for around 25 years, so it's not like I haven't had some experience with those among us who are, to put it gently, a little different.
This is the stuff of psychology journals, of landmark articles and newly formed diagnoses. It is somewhere between moronic self-love and emotional infantilism. This is a man bent on avoiding the last, minor vestiges of a tenuous grip on reality. It's what I expect from a man in the grips of a severe chemical or narcissistic addiction. If he's not taking drugs, perhaps he should. Prescribed ones, from qualified professionals, ones that are used for those who no longer can tell what is real and what is not. Believe me, I'm not entirely kidding. This, I admit, has me stumped. But at least his pronouncements answers some reasonable questions.
The first one is, "Why don't they get him some coaching?" They have, and from some very good coaches. It hasn't taken.
Why not? Well, every treatment begins with admitting that you have a problem. JaMarcus doesn't see it that way. I can't, for the life of me, understand why not. He has gotten this far in life and hasn't been committed yet. And, indeed that's the problem - he's never been committed. Committed to his teammates, committed to his career, committed to improving or even to not getting worse. I'm not going to hound the man further, but his is incredible. Suddenly, the childish antics of some of the current and former Broncos don't look so bad, In fact, they're not even manifest: suddenly, they are of no interest. They aren't a blip on the radar screen, nor a straw in a windstorm. We've now seen the errant me-ism of the culture of football raised to its zenith. This one really takes the cake, and that, in itself, is ironic. the young man who can't be troubled to show up in camp in shape has set a new and higher standard for an NFL prima dona.
Russell went on to say that he is satisfied with his progression as an NFL quarterback. Really?
"When you get tough looks like that, and a tough crowd, hey, it's the NFL, you have continue to progress yourself in becoming the person that you want to be," Russell said. "I know I'm not there yet."
Good call. Tower to Russell....no, you're not. It's the crowd's fault for not appreciating his gosh-awful performance? The fact that he's an embarrassment to one of the most dysfunctional organizations in pro sports doesn't seem that much of a concern. What was just as painful - no, far more so - was watching some decent players trying to find something positive to say about the situation.
"We've seen it all around here," running back Justin Fargas said, "but we have to play above that and really just keep ourselves out of situations to where that type of stuff happens. We support each other on offense, and we support our quarterback. So whatever's going on on the outside, we try to do our best not to let that affect us."
Good luck with that, Justin. I really do wish you well.
The article went on to say,
"In the end, cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha said he hoped the Raiders would have an idea what kind of team they have this season. Sunday's clunker clouded the picture."
I beg to differ. It made the picture quite clear. It's just hard to look at.
"There's some glaring problems that need to be fixed, in all phases of the game," Asomugha said. "So, I don't think we have quite a read on who we are. And that's concerning because at this point you want to know what type of team you are."
Listening to one of the elite corners in the game making excuses like, 'We don't quite have a read on who we are" is hard to hear. We all know who and what Asomugha is - brilliant, hard-working, talented and good at studying film and preparing. Unfortunately for him, we also know what the read is on JaMarcus Russell.
"We have to play better," Raiders coach Tom Cable said. "These fans deserve a better football team than what we showed (Sunday). How do (the players) handle that? Obviously, you hope it ticks them off, and they deal with it the right way, they put more attention to the details during the week, that we demand more from them during the week and we play better on Sunday."
I've finally found something that I can agree with Tom Cable about. The fans do deserve better. If Cable hasn't noticed, it's time to look at Steve Gradkowski and to give the young man a chance. If JaMarcus Russell considers 2 completions and 2 INTs in 5 tries a problem with the referees, he is in need of professional help, not coaching. It's time to bring in another payer. It's a cliche, often said and sometimes wrong, but in this case; it really can't be worse.
As a football fan, this is embarrassing. I just found myself feeling deeply sorry for the Oakland fans. Ok, I don't have anything good to say about their team, but no fan deserves this. Do they?
Honestly? No. Football may deserve to take a long look in the mirror for drafting this kid #1 in 2007, though. It isn't like he didn't have issues in college, is it? JaMarcus Russell has managed to do one thing that I have to give him credit for: He's made Chad 'Whatever he calls Himself' look like a team player. TO is suddenly a joy in the locker room. Randy Moss becomes a sympathetic figure for forcing his way out of the Fey by the Bay. The raiders, after years of effort, have set a new goal for the profession.
After just two short years, JaMarcus Russell has set a new and higher standard for football. It just isn't the one they thought that they were getting. But it's a new standard, nonetheless.
It's far, far worse. Nice going, young man. It's good to be the best at something.