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Marshall Faulk might aid JaMarcus Russell comeback

  • By Andy Fenelon
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HONOLULU -- A line buried deep in the Yahoo! Sports story on Tuesday about JaMarcus Russell's comeback attempt caught our eye. It was the one that stated Marshall Faulk would be among those on a team of TEST Football Academy athletes and doctors working "to reclaim the quarterback's promise."

We caught up with the Hall of Fame running back and NFL Network analyst, who is in Hawaii this week to cover the Pro Bowl, and asked him what the deal was.

Faulk is a staff member on TEST West outside San Diego, one of three regional training academies that might be best known for the work they do with football players preparing for the NFL Scouting Combine. He was asked by TEST to help prepare Russell for his comeback.

And what was Faulk's response?

"I told them I would, under one condition," Faulk said. "That I talk to him one-on-one before I sign on. I want to know if he's doing this for the money or if he's for real. If it's only for the money, I want no part of it. If he's serious about playing football again, I'll help out."

Faulk said he will meet with the former No. 1 overall draft pick after the Super Bowl. He was asked by TEST to work on the "mental issues" with Russell. That being the case, it's understandable why Faulk is taking a cautious approach and not diving straight in. It was the "mental issues" that affected Russell's play on the field and eventually derailed the quarterback's NFL career.

After being drafted No. 1 overall by Oakland in 2007 (the Raiders passed on Calvin Johnson, Adrian Peterson, Patrick Willis, Marshawn Lynch and Darrelle Revis), Russell was out of football by 2010 and hasn't played since. He won seven of his 25 career starts, completing just 52.1 percent of his passes with 18 touchdowns, 38 turnovers (23 interceptions, 15 lost fumbles) and posting a passer rating of 65.2.

In his three seasons, Russell was paid more than $36 million by the Raiders. Two years after his release, tax troubles started following him and he had to sell his Oakland mansion in order to avoid foreclosure on the property. In a 2011 interview with Sports Illustrated, Russell claimed he was "not broke. Far from it."

Regardless, if Russell can get into shape and Faulk can play a part in getting his head straight, there could be a market for him. Remarkably, Russell still is only 27 years old, and there are at least eight teams that will enter the offseason not knowing who their starter will be next season.

Of course, one of them is Oakland. The Raiders can't afford to make that mistake again.

Andy Fenelon is a senior editor at NFL.com. You can follow him on Twitter @Andy_Fenelon.

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