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Blame game: Ex-Raiders QB Russell can't own up to his failures

Is there anything JaMarcus Russell could say now to repair his image? Anything at all that could convince people he's not the biggest draft bust in NFL history?

The Raiders' 2007 No. 1 overall pick is 26 years old and out of football. And in this week's edition of Sports Illustrated, Russell tells his side of the story as to why his short-lived career in Oakland was a complete disaster.

Addressing previous reports that he would fall asleep during team meetings as a rookie, Russell said it was a result of having sleep apnea.

"In the NFL, my first year, I had to be there at 6:30 (a.m.) before practice and be on the treadmill for an hour," Russell said. "Then meetings come, I sit down, eat my fruit. We watch film, and maybe I got tired. Coach Flip (quarterback coach John DeFilippo) pulled me aside and said, 'What are you doing for nightlife?' I said, 'Coach, I'm just chilling.' He said, 'I need to get you checked out.' I did the sleep test, and they said I had apnea."

Clearly, Russell's career got off to a bad start -- and only worsened. After Lane Kiffin was fired in 2008, new Raiders coach Tom Cable apparently didn't help matters much. Now, Russell said he feels betrayed by Cable, who's now with the Seattle Seahawks after being let go in Oakland.

"I stuck my neck out for him," Russell said. "Didn't complain when he benched me as the starter. Didn't complain when he called the same plays five damn times. Didn't (badmouth) him to other coaches. When the (media) asks me, I say, 'He's a good coach, a good guy.' Then I hear he says I was the worst thing that ever happened to the Raiders, if it weren't for (me) we'd be in the playoffs? ... It just got to where the game wasn't fun for me."

Russell, who went 7-18 as a starter before being released after the 2009 season, also said he hates the fact that he's the face of the Raiders' losing during his three years with the team.

"Things weren't going right, and it felt sometimes like everything fell back on me," he said. "I take some responsibility, but I was one guy. ... I may have missed a throw, but I didn't give up 42 points. I didn't miss a block."

Ah, but Russell did hold out into Week 1 as a rookie, and did show up to minicamp one offseason weighing nearly 300 pounds, and did throw more interceptions (23) than touchdowns (18), and did finish with a career 65.2 passer rating.

It appears Russell is pointing the finger at other people for his own failures. Even if that wasn't his intention (and maybe all he wanted to do was vent), it's how folks likely will interpret his words. So, really, when you think about it, if Russell wanted to repair his image (although he did discuss his selfless giving to his hometown of Mobile, Ala.), the best thing he could've done was man up -- or remain out of the news altogether by keeping quiet.

Too late for that.

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