JaMarcus Russell authored the best pro day Mike Mayock had ever seen in 2007. So why wouldn't the NFL Network draft analyst touch Russell in the first round of the 2007 NFL Draft?
"The guy doesn't care about football," Mayock told "The Dan Patrick Show" a few years later. "He doesn't have the passion for the game, doesn't have the work ethic. I don't want him."
No story better illustrates Russell's casual attitude toward football than the tale of the blank DVD.
On this week's edition of "The Rich Eisen Podcast," Eisen passed along a version of the story from Warren Sapp, who was a teammate of Russell's on the Oakland Raiders. The coaches would send Russell home with a game-plan DVD loaded with plays and ideas to study. Suspecting that their bonus-baby quarterback was skipping his homework, the coaches slipped in a blank DVD one day. When Russell returned, he reportedly said the game plan looked good to him.
The story goes back a few years and might be apocryphal. As Sports on Earth's Gwen Knapp pointed out, quarterback consultant Sid Gillman employed a similar ruse with Randall Cunningham early in the quarterback's Philadelphia Eagles career. It's worth noting that the San Francisco Chronicle appeared to accept the Russell story as credible in 2011.
Regardless of the veracity of the blank DVD story, Russell's work ethic was deplorable in Oakland. He fell asleep in meetings, went AWOL in organized team activities, might have been addicted to "purple drank" and essentially ate himself out of the NFL.
Have the three years away from the game led to an epiphany, or is Russell's latest comeback merely a cash grab? He has at least put the fork down this time around. It's a start.
Follow Chris Wesseling on Twitter @ChrisWesseling.