Whether or not JaMarcus Russell turns a Friday workout with the Chicago Bears into a full-time job, Jeff Garcia believes his pupil already has overcome sizeable odds to garner a look from any NFL team.
Garcia, who tutored Russell at the TEST Academy in California, told "NFL AM" on Wednesday that the former Oakland Raiders quarterback still has all the physical tools he possessed when he left the game in 2009.
"Physically, he didn't lose much as to where he was four years ago," said Garcia, the former NFL signal-caller, who added "it was more the mindset" that needed repairing.
"Mentally, was the state where we needed to get him back to thinking football, speaking football, knowing football, being a student of the game. I don't know if that's ever been part of his background, to be a student of the game. That's where he needs to get to. He needs to sleep, eat, drink football. It can't be anything else if he wants this bad enough."
If Russell makes it back to the NFL -- and that's no sure thing -- it represents a victory not only for him, but for Garcia and TEST, who helped the behemoth melt 50 pounds off his frame en route to a manageable 265. Garcia went out of his way to praise Russell as "a committed young man, a young man that knew he blew an opportunity, he missed out on an opportunity back in the day."
When Russell showed up at TEST, he had "that slouch, early on, when he was kind of hunched over, hood pulled over his head walking in, not smiling as much," Garcia said. "A month later, that hood was off his head, you could see the transformation."
For Russell, the person, it's a season of change that nobody can take away from him. It remains to be seen if he'll (a) score another chance to play or (b) improve on his ugly three-year run in Oakland, but the days of calling him the league's laziest giant are over.