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THE MAN WHO ISN'T THERE
L. JON WERTHEIM
October 31, 2011
The No. 1 pick in the 2007 draft should be out on the field commanding an NFL team this Sunday. JaMarcus Russell, though, is home in Mobile, absorbing shots to his character and resting on what's left of his $39 million. The most maligned figure in football tells his side
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October 31, 2011

The Man Who Isn't There

The No. 1 pick in the 2007 draft should be out on the field commanding an NFL team this Sunday. JaMarcus Russell, though, is home in Mobile, absorbing shots to his character and resting on what's left of his $39 million. The most maligned figure in football tells his side

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JaMarcus Russell is broke.

Yardbarker

Claims that Russell is in dire financial straits circulated over the summer when TMZ reported that his Oakland Hills mansion had fallen into foreclosure after he failed to make past-due mortgage payments amounting to close to $200,000. Not so, Russell says. He just sold the house. "Football isn't paying me now," he says. "You make $1 million a game and you can do whatever. It's not like that anymore; I need to put myself in a place where those zeroes in the bank last for a long time. But I'm not broke. Far from it."

JaMarcus Russell fired by 'life coach,' John Lucas.

The Huffington Post

Earlier this year Russell surfaced in Houston, working with former NBA player and coach John Lucas, a longtime guru to troubled athletes trying to revive their careers. In April, Lucas reportedly fired Russell, still more evidence that he was an irredeemable slug. Except both men say it never happened. "I felt like I was overtraining, running my body into the ground, so I left Houston," Russell says. "But fired? Me and Coach Lucas, we're cool. We still talk. I texted him just the other day." (Says Lucas, "I don't know where that [report] came from. JaMarcus is a good kid, I'm telling you, who just needs to find his motivation. But we still talk. Have him tell you about his sleep apnea. A lot [of his issues] come from that. And no one knows it.")

As Black Sheep shaves the back of Russell's neck, Russell stops talking. Blue, seated on the bench wearing Russell's number 2 Raiders jersey, fills the void: "It's like this. Someone says there's fish swimming on the floor of Black Sheep's barbershop. But it goes here and there, people passing it on, but missing the facts. By the time it gets to you, you hear it as: 'Someone dropped a fillet-o-fish sandwich on the floor of the barbershop.'"

This is met with laughs from the other regulars. "What you trying to say?" someone shouts. "That don't make sense!"

"Sure it does," Blue says. "Truth gets twisted. That's what happened to JaMarcus."

Okay, fine, truth gets twisted. So how did the top pick in an NFL draft, with no physical injury, find himself out of the league at 24? How did a player so coveted become so unwanted so quickly? Analyze Russell's downfall and you get an algorithm for bad luck, bad advice and bad decisions.

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