Russell, the quarterback who was drafted by the Raiders in 2007 and last played with them in 2009, will need to overcome both conditioning issues and off-field problems, including a 2010 arrest for possessing codeine syrup without a prescription.
‘The last few years, the things going through my life, football is my job and it is how it feeds my family,” Russell said. “People would say [that] I didn’t love the game, but that pisses me off. People don’t know the real you, but I want people to know the real me and see what I can do. People are always saying that I’m a bust. I want show them I’m not. I’m committed to this now.’
The 6-foot-6 Russell now weighs 308 pounds, down from the 320 pounds he weighed last fall but a far cry from the 265 he weighed when the Raiders drafted him. He has been working on cardio conditioning over the last few months to get in shape, and he has also spoken to youth groups about his poor life choices and his arrest.
Yahoo! reports that former NFL wide receiver Mike Clayton, who, like Russell, went to LSU, has been mentoring Russell throughout his training. Clayton is part of a team of former players and doctors supporting Russell on his road back to professional football.
Even in 2007, Russell was known more for his raw athleticism than his training or technique, and he struggled at the NFL level. He played 31 games with the Raiders and completed 52.1 percent of his passes in that time. But with a new network of support behind him, he said things will be different this time.
‘I’m not looking for a pat on the shoulder from people who haven’t been there for me,’ Russell said. ‘It feels funny not to go through a training camp, that’s just what I’m used to. It’s going to feel good to go back out there again. I will make this happen.’