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JaMarcus Russell clinging to NFL comeback dream

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JaMarcus Russell remains hopeful his NFL career isn't over.

The former quarterback, a notorious draft bust picked first overall by the Oakland Raiders in 2007, said recently he would play for free if it meant a shot at redemption. Russell hasn't been in the NFL since 2009.

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"God makes things happen for a reason," Russell said in a video for Sports Illustrated. "Who's to say? You might see me back. You never know, man. You never know. ... Whatever it is -- I can be a water boy and work my way into a scout team. It doesn't matter. I'll go play for free."

Last year, Russell sent letters to each of the 32 NFL teams with the hope of earning a place in an organization. Sports Illustrated included an image of one of those letters addressed to Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.

"I am willing to work my way in and up," Russell wrote. "I am willing to lead the scout team for free for one year just to get experience in your system.

"I know that my name does not carry much weight in the NFL right now, but I am more than the image that others have bestowed on me. I've been labeled as a bust, I have been labeled as lazy and I have been the targets of many insults by the media. The blame for any negative press that I've received rested squarely on my shoulders.

"What those rough years (in Oakland) taught me is more valuable than any lesson that I could have learned elsewhere. My tribulations have humbled me. I am a better man because of my struggles, and I simply desire an opportunity to redeem myself. I do not want my legacy to be a trail of unfulfilled dreams and missed opportunities."

This isn't the first time Russell has been in the news for a comeback attempt. Back in 2013, Russell worked with a personal-training team to shed more than 30 pounds in an effort to attract an NFL team. He got a workout with the Chicago Bears, but wasn't invited to camp.

Now 30, Russell's chances of a comeback are even more remote. He seems destined to be remembered as a cautionary tale for front offices and rookies alike. You can understand why Russell would want to re-craft a happier ending.

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