Friday, August 17, 2007

A "Dear JaMarcus" letter...

Dear Mr. Russell:

So I issued my best welcome (see previous post) and you throw it back in my face. Thirty plus million dollars in guaranteed money along with a six year, sixty million dollar contract - more money given to any other rookie in NFL history - is beneath you.

In fairness, I'm not certain that last sentence is entirely justifiable. My position remains that you hired agents to get the job done and you must follow their advice, even though that advice seems to be piss poor. They've already cost you money, Mr. Russell. A lot of money! Showing off your live arm at Raider camp would have earned you promotional endorsements worth millions. Not now, Mr. Russell. Now you're actually going to have to earn those dollars with performance before some corporation is willing to put your face on their cereal box.

The fact is that Al Davis has a reputation for paying players what they are worth. Even when he's up against cap constraints he has found ways to allocate the money to players who've earned it. He does have a reputation for low balling contracts, but not player contracts. If he underpays, he underpays his coaches. At least that's his reputation. Once coaches have proven themselves, he rewards them with their subsequent contract (usually choosing not to negotiate again until the contract has, or nearly has expired). I think I can safely bet everything I have that, no matter what, Davis would be willing to make you the highest paid player in football history without ever having set your foot on an NFL playing field. And yet, for your agents (and apparently you) that is not enough.

So now, Mr. Russell you wait. We (the Raider Nation) don't wait. We carefully watch the improvement of Andrew Walter, the mobility of Josh McCown, and the reemergence of Dante Culpepper. You begin to fade, in our minds, into an irritable memory.

You (and I say "you" because your agents do represent "you") seem to feel that you have earned far more than the purely insane amount of money you've been offered. Really? How, exactly, did you earn it? By proving that you could play two years of college ball? Well, there are others who have played great for four years of college and flopped in the pros. You have yet to prove to anybody that won't happen to you, but your agents seem to feel (you by extension) that whether or not you flop, you've still earned the money, even if you just show up at the facility to sign autographs. In other words, your mere presence on our practice fields should earn you that money.

At this point I'm pretty confident that Davis has decided he's offered enough for the privilege of your company, and is willing to let you sit out the season. I know that many of my fellow Raider fans will disagree, but for my part, we're in a better position than we imagined. We don't need you. Stay home and squander what you could have made without the desire to be unaccountable. Somebody will pay you millions next year, but not as many millions, and that collar you'll feel around your neck will be attached to a very short leash. I believe that Mr. Davis drew his line in the sand when he said he thought that Dante Culpepper was a lot like Jim Plunkett. He just might be right. And if he is, expect to be playing for a different team next year and for a lot less money.

As it turns out our second round pick might have been really worth a top pick. Miller signed, showed up in camp, and appears to be the best tight end that the Raiders have had since the 1980s. With time to throw, Andrew Walter is looking more like the quarterback the Raiders drafted than the stranger who played last year while being buried under an ineffective offensive line. McCown is showing leadership and mobility, Culpepper is showing both mobility and a powerful arm. Our offensive line has improved, our running gameā€¦ Yes, we'll lose our first ever #1 overall pick. Big deal. The NFL busts at that position are legion. We'll save the obscene amount of money you're demanding, and Mr. Davis has never had a problem with acquiring extra draft picks when we've needed them. We're going to be better this year with or with you. You had a great opportunity which you seem to have squandered.

So you seem to be reduced to a couple of choices. Sit out the season in Alabama and contemplate your navel and things that might have been, or fire your agents, wait the required amount of time, hire a new agent and tell him/her to get the deal done. At this point, five days isn't going to make a hell of a lot difference. The moment where five days would have made a difference is already past.



Blogger Raider Raza said...

Dear JaMarcuss,

You are making a big mistake. Do not hide behind your agents. Why are you guys demanding so much money?

Are you proud to be the first first round Raider holdout?

You are a junior with great skill but no pro experience.

The chances of you becoming a bust are greater than the chances of you becoming a HOF or Superbowl winning QB. I am glad that the Raiders and AL Davis are not caving in to your agents so that they can break some record and recruit more players next year.

Seriously, you have 3 years college ball experience, yet you are whining about not getting 35 million. The Raiders offer of 31 Million is more than fair. Seriously is there really a difference in the quality of life you get from 35 million that you can't get from 31 million.

The Raiders fan base is mainly blue collar or working class who prove themselves everyday and for that reason, I will never wear a Russell jersey, no matter how good you become. I rather wear a Morrison jersey. I can relate to Morrison cause he grew up a fan and has sat in the black hole. Today he is overachiever yet underpaid much like me.

If it was up to me i would trade you or release your rights. I would rather give that 30 Million+++ to players like Nnamdi and Burgess who have earned it. I hope Al Davis makes an example out of you to hopefully change the system to prevent top picks from commanding so much money.

Good luck in the draft next year...

10:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Outstanding letter BR, you nailed many things. The only negative thing I have to say is that the timing of it might be off a little. I still believe we're not to this point yet. Yes, he is the last of the 1st rounders to be unsigned, but just barely. The other guy signed just a few days ago and it's not uncommon to drag on this long, especially considering so much is at stake. But if this letter somehow does make it to JaMarcus' $30 million computer screen, by the time it gets that far it just may be perfect timing.

Having said that, I'm with you & Raza 100% and I grow more frustrated by the day. The fact that we seem to be completely 'not on speaking terms' is just rediculous. I'm backing whatever decisions Al makes, even if it means letting him slip to another draft. Al is right. The entire NFL should thank him for having such huge balls, doing what everyone else is affraid to even acknowledge as an option.

The sad part is there will still be countless thousands of un-knowing sheep who will follow the sheep-hearders known as the "Haters" in believing Al is screwing this up, or that he's just being cheap "as usual".

I'm still holding onto hope that JaMarcus is a good guy with good intentions, and is just a young, frustrated guy being let astray by greedy ass holes. I hope this is the case. And I hope he wakes up and develops a little bit of Culpepper-like business sense ASAP. I hold onto this hope because I don't want to harbor negative feelings toward the 'future' of our franshise. Yes, we can continue without him if need be, but let's hope it never comes to that point.


11:28 AM  
Blogger Toni said...

Nicely done! You pretty much summed up how I was feeling. I should have just read your letter instead of going on my long-winded rant over at RT.


You should submit it to the Chron or Tribune on page 2 or as an editorial on the sports page. I'm serious about that. Or email it to Jerry McDonald and see if he can post it on insider.

5:23 PM  
Blogger Calico Jack said...

Although the Russell holdout has left a sour taste in many Raider fans' mouths, I still believe he will sign and become our long term franchise QB in 2008 and beyond.

I'm also a bit skeptical about what is truly holding up the signing. Is Russell being greedy or is it something along the lines of the "injury & skill" bonus clause that is the sticking point.

I can't speak to the "skill" clause but I do know that an "injury" clause is standard language in every #1 pick's contract for the past 15 years. I think it is fair to have "accountability & forfeiture" for such things as detrimental conduct (ie. weight clauses & suspensions). However when it comes to a player losing out on guaranteed bonus money due to injury I clearly think it is fair and reasonable for a player to be protected.

Until we know the actual details of the contract, I believe some of the speculation is unfair. Ultimately, the organization & Russell need to both feel adequately protected in such a way that there is true accountability.

Good job BR with voicing many of the concerns of the Raider Nation.

7:18 PM  

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