The Oakland Raiders have a long history of drafting quarterbacks that did not pan out to well as is demonstrated by my list of every quarterback ever drafted by the Oakland Raiders dating back to 1960. In that piece, I was analyzing all of the quarterbacks drafted by the Raiders in order to determine who the best ever was.
That, as it turned out, was a rather easy task. Ken “The Snake” Stabler was easily the best quarterback ever drafted by the Raiders and it was not even close. Steve Beuerlein is probably the second best quarterback drafted by the team but he was no where near as successful as Stabler and most of his success came with other teams.
So when I started looking into who the worst quarterback ever drafted by the Raiders was, I figured it would be another quick decision. After all, the JaMarcus Russell days are so recent in everyone’s memory it is hard to look past him. Fair or not, he more than anyone else, is the poster child for the past 11 seasons of ineptitude. But when you take a look at the long list of eventual no names, you have to take a step back and really think about it before jumping right to the Purple One.
Aside from Russell, the name that stands out the most is Todd Marinovich.
Marinovich was in the spot light from the time he was a young child due to his father’s decision to begin his fitness training as a very young child. He was also on very strict dietary restrictions intended to turn him into the perfect physical specimen. While it paid off in terms of physicality, it likely had a detrimental impact on him mentally.
Despite clear physical talent Marinovich’s well documented off the field drug and other personal issues likely played a large role in his flopping in the NFL. Lasting only a couple of seasons with the Raiders, Marinovich never really showed that he was capable of playing in the NFL and the Raiders were forced to continue looking for an upgrade at quarterback.
The similarities between Russell and Marinovich run deep. Both are physical specimens and could do things at the quarterback position that not many at the time could. But they both also had deep seeded personal issues, including use of illegal drugs. They also both appeared to be people who were playing football because it was where their physical talents took them, not because they had a love for the game.
But when it comes down to it, as bad as the Marinovich era was, the Russell one was worse for a number of reasons.
First of all, Russell was taken first over all in the draft while Marinovich was taken 24th. They both represented missing on big opportunities with Calvin Johnson and Brett Favre, but Russell costed a whole lot more because of the era in which he was drafted.
Russell was taken just before the new rookie salary cap, when year after year the first over all draft pick was setting a new NFL record for the biggest contract in history. Not only was Russell’s play on the field atrocious, his financial impact on the team had rippling affects that can still be felt today.
Here is to hoping the Raiders never have guys like Marinovich and Russell on the roster ever again.