Greatest Bust Ever?

By Ta-Nehisi Coates

Probably not:


The Oakland Raiders released former No. 1 overall pick JaMarcus Russell on Thursday, ending a three-year tenure marked by his high salary and unproductive play on the field. 

Senior executive John Herrera told The Associated Press about the move and said that ''we wish him well.'' The decision came less than two weeks after Oakland acquired Jason Campbell from Washington to take over at quarterback and signifies that owner Al Davis finally lost patience with the immensely talented but unproductive player he drafted first overall in 2007 against the wishes of former coach Lane Kiffin. 

Russell will now likely be considered one of the biggest draft busts in NFL history, joining Ryan Leaf, Ki-Jana Carter, Akili Smith and others on that list. He will have been paid more than $39 million by the Raiders, while producing only seven wins as a starter.

I think, as I understand it, a lot of folks thought Davis reached for JaMarcus to begin with, and that he was something of a project. That's not quite my recollection of, say, Ryan Leaf, Rick Mirer, Curtis Enis, Lawrence Phillips, Tony Mandarich, or Charles Rogers. 

JaMarcus Russell is a different kind of bust. His draft position is more a result of Al Davis' scouting, than pre-Draft hype. He's a bust, no doubt. But I don't think he takes the crown.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2010/05/greatest-bust-ever/56345/