JaMarcus Russell doesn't want your sympathy -- he just wants another shot to play in the NFL. That's the impetus for a new film from Sports Illustrated, in which the former No. 1 overall pick is determined to make it back into the league nearly seven years since he last played a down.
Russell was famously the No. 1 overall pick by the Oakland Raiders in 2007 (receiver Calvin Johnson went second to Detroit), and he signed one of the richest rookie contracts in NFL history. But the quarterback from LSU never came close to earning his wages: In three seasons with the team, he went 7-18 and completed just 52.1 percent of his passes while throwing more interceptions than touchdowns.
Russell also struggled with weight problems before he was released by Oakland in 2009. But he insists he's back in shape now, and he's willing to prove it by playing for free.
"I am willing to lead the scout team for free for one year just to get experience in your system," Russell wrote in a letter penned to Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones. "I want to learn the playbook, sit under the proper tutelage and learn from your coaching staff.
"After that time, if you see fit to allow me to stay with the Cowboys organization, I would be eternally grateful."
Russell also says that his "tribulations have humbled me," and that he doesn't want his legacy to be a "trail of unfulfilled dreams and missed opportunities."
It's unclear if anyone will give Russell a shot. He earned a tryout from the Chicago Bears in 2013, but the team passed on him and no other NFL teams came calling. At the time, he had slimmed down by 50 pounds, but his throwing performance was erratic.
Russell's talent coming out of college was lauded, but that was nine years ago. It's hard to say whether any NFL team will bother with giving him the opportunity he's asking for.