NFL Bust JaMarcus Russell Signed A $68M Deal With Raiders In 2007. Now He’s Accused Of Stealing $74K Donation For Local High School Football Team

Former NFL quarterback JaMarcus Russell is considered one of the biggest busts in NFL history, known for underachieving, sipping sizzurp and a contract holdout to begin his career. 

The 38-year-old was dismissed as a volunteer assistant coach at Williamson High School in Mobile, Alabama, and is also the subject of a lawsuit that accuses him of stealing a substantial check that was supposed to go to the high school as a donation.

“JaMarcus Russell was relieved of his volunteer coaching duties at Williamson High School during the fall of last year,” Mobile County Public Schools officials told WKRG Sports.

How Much Is Jamarcus Russell Accused Of Stealing? 

According to court documents obtained by USA Today Sports, Russell allegedly received, deposited, and then cashed a $74,000 check at a local credit union in July 2022.

Russell, who was at Wilson since 2018, was fired from this position in the fall of 2023 for allegedly approaching the donor in the summer of 2022, receiving a check for $74,000 from the donor in July of 2022, depositing it at a credit union, and immediately withdrew $55,000.

The donor eventually stopped payment on the check when Russell wouldn’t provide a receipt of the donation and stopped returning his phone calls. 

What appeared to be the actions of a man who still loves and stays connected to football and his town of Mobile, while helping youth players avoid his pitfalls, turned out to be a way to convert money for his personal use. The case is set to go to trial in October.

According to a statement from Mobile County Public School officials, Russell was told to stay away from the school’s campus and football team.

Former NFL quarterback and 2007 No. 1 overall pick Jamarcus Russell was dismissed as a volunteer assistant coach at Williamson High School in Mobile, Alabama, after allegedly stealing $74K check that was supposed to go to the high school as a donation. (Getty Images)

Jamarcus Russell Signed $68M Contract With Raiders In 2007

Russell was raking in the dough at one point as the No. 1 overall selection of the Raiders in 2007 out of LSU. He had all the measurables of what NFL scouts wanted in a prototypical signal-caller back then. He’s 6-foot-6, 260-pounds and he had an arm that released footballs like a Howitzer. 

Unfortunately, Russell’s NFL career got off to a rocky start. Russell held out through his first training camp and into the first week of the season. The former LSU quarterback signed a six-year contract worth up to $68 million, with $31.5 million guaranteed. Missing training camp cost him valuable learning time and created tension between him and the organization off the bat. 

His career was plagued with personal problems, inconsistent performance and questionable work ethic, and he was released in 2010, making several attempts to rejoin the league in later years, but never getting another crack at it. 

His career is now used as a cautionary tale for NFL players and potential high picks about how to not go about your business in a corporate NFL environment.

His career numbers as a Raider are unimpressive: 52.1% pass completion, 18 TDs and 23 picks, a passer rating of 65.2, with 25 fumbles.

Russell Was Addicted to Lean

This won’t be the first time the former No. 1 overall pick is facing legal hassles. 

Russell was arrested at his Mobile, Alabama home in July of 2010, for being in possession of codeine syrup without a valid prescription. His arrest was the culmination of a two-month investigation in which his name kept popping up.

In 2010, a Mobile County grand jury declined to indict Russell on the charge of possession of codeine syrup without a prescription. So he beat the rap, but the case seriously damaged any opportunity of getting back into the league.

Maybe he spent too much time listening to Lil Wayne songs. Rumors of his love for “purple drank” were prevalent during his rise, but the disconnect between white America and hip-hop kept his habits under the radar. 

Lean is used as a recreational drug and prepared by mixing prescription-grade cough or cold syrup containing an opioid drug and an antihistamine drug with a soda and sometimes hard candy. It originated in Houston and is popular in hip-hop culture, especially down South.

Many songs were made referencing lean, also known as syzzurp, throughout the hip-hop scene of the 2000s. So, in essence, Russell’s football experience was reflective of the way he lived his personal life; undisciplined and counterproductive.  

At the time that Russell’s NFL career was spiraling out of control, the young man was also dealing with mental anguish of losing two male figures in his family within a nine-month period. 

Maybe if Russell faced those setbacks today, society would have perceived him differently and been more supportive than demonizing.

Jamarcus Russell Speaks Out: The NFL’s Kwame Brown?

Over the past decade, Russell has tried to explain his side of the story. Not going as far as former NBA “bust” Kwame Brown in starting a podcast and attacking the system and people that you feel didn’t provide a safe landing space for your talents and emotions or misrepresented you as a person. 

Back in 2022, he tried bringing some clarity to his NFL experience by addressing his lean consumption, his tumultuous Raiders career, his family and his “bust” designation on “The Pivot” podcast with Ryan Clark and Channing Crowder.

Russell attributed a lot of his attitude toward the game to how coach Tom Cable and the Raiders organization as a whole were treating him and said in the interview that he felt like “quitting” and as if he was “out there by myself.”

Maybe Russell was treated unfairly by the Raiders and not shown enough concern as a human being. You also can’t fault anyone for labeling Russell’s words as excuses at this point.

With his latest embarrassing turn of events, one can only come to the conclusion that Russell hasn’t learned anything from fumbling a lucrative NFL career. As a 21-year-old, we can excuse his indiscretions as being unprepared for the moment. As a 38-year-old leader of young men, he’s failed his hometown and the youth.

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