Brady's QB guru: Russell still has tools

July, 5, 2010
7/05/10
8:55
PM ET
Much like tuning up a well-maintained Lexus or recovering a rusted-out muscle car from the boneyard, there's a difference between working with Tom Brady and JaMarcus Russell.

Personal throwing coach Tom Martinez has worked with both quarterbacks and might take on Russell as a client again in hopes of salvaging a once-promising career.

JaMarcus Russell
AP Photo/Pat SullivanJaMarcus Russell is "better than anybody that was drafted this year," said throwing coach Tom Martinez, who also mentors Tom Brady.
"JaMarcus is a different kind of a challenge," Martinez told me last week. I interviewed Martinez for a piece about his relationship with Brady. Toward the end of our conversation, we spoke for a few minutes about Russell's uncertain future.

The Oakland Raiders made Russell the first pick of the 2007 draft but cut him this spring. The New York Jets have shown interest, but New York Daily News beat writer Manish Mehta reports any fascination has completely evaporated.

Russell's attempt to avoid being known as the biggest bust in NFL history experienced a hiccup Monday. Russell was charged with possession of a controlled substance. Russell had codeine cough syrup without a prescription and was arrested as part of an undercover narcotics investigation.

ESPN's "Outside the Lines" recently produced a story on the popularity of "purple drank," a concoction of prescription-strength cough syrup, soda or juice and Jolly Ranchers candy. Green Bay Packers defensive end Johnny Jolly was arrested for illegal possession of codeine syrup last year.

Martinez, who has been Brady's passing-mechanics guru since he was a teenager in San Mateo, Calif., worked with Russell prior to the 2007 draft.

"It's unbelievably sad from a lot of perspectives, and it's a 50-50 issue," Martinez said. "I think he's 50 percent responsible, and I think the Raiders are 50 percent responsible.

"They both got an F. They got an F because they took a guy No. 1 in the draft and it didn't work out. And it's an F for him to be drafted No. 1 and not perform. He left them no choice but to let him go."

Martinez wasn't willing to write him off and claimed a team like the Jets could find a terrific bargain by bringing Russell onto the team as a backup for Mark Sanchez.

A charismatic psychologist such as Jets head coach Rex Ryan might be able to get Russell's attention. But a team has to be willing to take on the risk of introducing Russell to its roster first.

"He's just unbelievably, unbelievably talented," Martinez said. "He's just very young and very immature. He's got it all. He's better than anybody that was drafted this year.

"If you can steal him for minimal pay and get him in an environment where he respected the people and did what they told him, it might be one of the greatest deals of all-time, getting the first guy taken in a draft for such little investment.

"But he could already be done."

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