Thursday May 6th, 2010

Three reactions to the Oakland Raiders' rightful firing of JaMarcus Russell Thursday afternoon:

1. The Raiders continue to have a good offseason for the first time in years. After dealing for Washington's Jason Campbell to be the starter, Oakland had no good reason to keep Russell on the roster anymore -- not with the coaching staff and players clearly favoring a 1-2 combination of Campbell and Bruce Gradkowski, in some order. Even though Al Davis was rightfully peeved to have gotten only seven wins in three years for his $39-million investment in the lazy Russell, he did the right thing in cutting his losses rather than forcing Russell down the throat of a coach, Tom Cable, who clearly didn't want him. Following the smart drafting of linebacker Rolando McClain with the eighth pick and the well-justified choice of risky tackle Bruce Campbell with the 106th last month, the temptation is to think the Raiders really know what they're doing this offseason.

2. The NFL will use Russell as its biggest chip in talks with the players union about why a rookie wage scale is not only what the league badly wants, but is essential to any well-run business. It hasn't made sense for years for owners to pay 20 or so of the most unproven players in the game millions in guarantees. Russell becomes the poster child for the owners' arguments, and the point is impossible to argue against ... assuming the league does the right thing and guarantees the money not spent on rookies will be spent on deserving veterans.

3. Russell has no one to blame but himself for this embarrassing three-year reign of error. I remember interviewing Russell and his uncle at the Scouting Combine 38 months ago and listening to the uncle give an impassioned defense of the kid's work ethic, which some teams were openly questioning. Turns out the scouts were right. The Raiders got taken by Russell because Davis fell in love with his arm. Big mistake. Russell loved money and what it bought far, far more than he cared for football.

In the end, the Raiders should have seen this coming miles away. But they realized things would only get worse this year if they brought Russell to training camp, so they made the smart move.

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