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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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Fair point. Why did Russell dismiss offers from teams in the UFL and the Canadian league? "Name one kid in the world who says, 'I can't wait to play in the CFL!' That s--- don't work." How's he going to get back into shape? "I'm going to work out at LSU in the spring, take classes and hopefully get [invited] to a camp this summer... . Also, I'm building a 50-yard turf field on my property." What about the sleep apnea? "I got it under control, man." Does he have regrets? "I live life without regret. I can wish it had gone different. But my momma told me as long as I'm living and breathing, I got nothing to complain about."

An awkward silence descends. But here comes Blue with another parable.

"What's the most fierce s--- in the water?"

"An alligator?" comes a voice.

"No!" says Blue. "In the deep blue sea."

"A shark?"

"Right. A shark. But here's the thing about a shark. It moves around, swaying back and forth. But as soon as it stops moving, it drowns!"

The barbershop goes nuts. "What?!" the crowd cries out, laughing and slapping fives.

"That's JaMarcus," says Blue. "He gotta keep moving."

Russell sits and shakes his head. His haircut has been done for almost an hour now, but he's still in the chair, his throne. As the men keep laughing, Russell waves them quiet.

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