The NFL is in the giving spirit
The NFL appears headed for a lockout after the 2010 season. And one of the biggest issues in the stalemate between the players and the owners is the current salary structure for the college draft and the system that provides guaranteed salaries for “can’t-miss” prospects who routinely do just that.
One of the most notable in recent years is the Oakland Raiders’ JaMarcus Russell. Andrew Brandt of the National Football Post just dedicated an entire column to Russell in which he compares him unfavorably to Ryan Leaf and Tony Mandarich on the short list of “the biggest draft mistakes in NFL history.”
Of course, it would be one thing for a team to miss on a player every now and then. Every team in the league has been there – it’s the nature of the scouting game.
But when you read the specifics of the financial commitment that the Raiders made to Russell, it will simply make your jaw drop.
When you consider what this 2007 #1 overall draft pick has done in his career to date – or rather, what he has not done or even shown a hint of being able to do in the future – it’s impossible to come to any conclusion other than the fact that the current system is ridiculous.
That is not the Raiders fault – any team in the same position would have had very little alternative but to offer the same deal.
But, if this doesn’t get fixed soon, teams may just someday abdicate their top picks so as not to be on the hook to such a degree for unknown professional quantities like Russell who hit the lottery by shining in their college days.
As for Russell himself, Brandt says it best when he notes that “it’s hard to believe there’s ever been so much paid for so little.” With the amount of money being discussed here – $39.4 million – one could make the argument that the statement actually transcends football.
Stupid money. And, for the NFL’s sake, let’s hope Russell becomes the poster child for change.