The Facts Prove That JaMarcus Russell Is Not the Biggest Bust Ever

The debate goes on. 

Is JaMarcus Russell of the Oakland Raiders the biggest bust of all time?

In order for that to be true, Russell must surpass Ryan Leaf of the San Diego Chargers, taken second overall in the 1998 NFL draft.  Leaf is generally considered the biggest bust ever taken in the NFL draft.

Most articles relative to Russell have been nothing more than case studies in the quixotic decisions of Al Davis. 

Thus, those articles are nothing more than veiled attempts to define the legacy of Mr. Davis by Russell, which merely reflects gross bias that is not based on facts.

This argument is two-fold.  The first component is the empirical evidence (stats, cost), while the second component is the intangibles (work-ethic, locker room presence).


Component One

Statistically, Russell has 680 pass attempts compared to Leaf with 655, which is a difference of 25 passes, which is roughly equivalent to one game.  Russell has completed 52.1 percent of his passes, while Leaf completed 48.4 percent of his passes. 

Even though this is a dubious stat, I use it because there are people who put value in it:  Russell was 7-18 as a starter for a winning percentage of 28, while Leaf finished 4-17 for a winning percentage of 19.

Russell's career total of touchdowns to interceptions is 18 and 23, while Leaf's career total of touchdowns to interceptions is 14 to 36.  Russell has thrown 4,083 yards, while Leaf threw 3,666 passing yards.

In 1998, the Chargers signed Leaf to a contract of $31.25 million with $11.25 million guaranteed.  In 2007, Russell signed a contract for $68 million with $31.5 million guaranteed.

In order to acquire Leaf, the Chargers traded up a mere one spot in the 1998 NFL draft. Despite the fact that the Cardinals had drafted quarterback Jake Plummer in the previous Draft, t...

About the Author