Home > Uncategorized > Oakland Raiders ‘Retire’ JaMarcus Russell’s No. 2

Oakland Raiders ‘Retire’ JaMarcus Russell’s No. 2

Everyone is concentrating on college football today (for good reason) and talking about how Chris Johnson can finally get all of those Titans fans to [shut the fuck up] because he finally got his irregular contract for his irregular job. But please allow me to hit on a story that is a few days old.

Other than over-drafting for speed, no one knows what the Oakland Raiders are going to do. Actually, it’s better to say that what they do makes little-to-no sense. Staying true to form, the Raiders over-drafted Terrelle Pryor and his 4.3 40-yard dash time in the third round of the supplemental draft. They followed that up by not allowing Pryor to wear No. 2, his jersey number at Ohio State.

Why?

Because the Raiders want all vestiges of JaMarcus Russell gone for good.

Tony Kornheiser said on Monday’s edition of ESPN’s “Pardon the Interruption” it was a smart move because “JaMarcus Russell is one of the biggest busts of all time in the NFL, so you don’t want anybody wearing that number and getting, you know, getting that number-itis.”

It’s hard to tell, but he sure sounded serious. Of course, no high-profile quarterback after Russell has ever succeeded in the NFL with that number. It just has so many demons surrounding it, right?

A friend of mine also said this was a good idea because the Raiders needed to “purge the past.”

However, the Raiders are doing the exact opposite with this declaration. Maybe the No. 2 jersey won’t be off limits for the rest of time, but by making it forbidden now, they are giving JaMarcus Russell and his memory special treatment. They aren’t moving on; they are highlighting their gigantic mistake and turning the number into a sacred entity.

Moving on or purging the past would mean letting Pryor wear college number and seeing what he can make of it.

The Packers put Tony Mandarich’s No. 77 onto the back of a Pro Bowl-caliber player.

The Rams did the same with Lawrence Phillips’ No. 21.

The Bengals moved No. 11 away from Akili Smith.

A quarterback on the Chargers’ current roster is even sporting Ryan Leaf’s No. 16.

No one is ever going to completely forget that the Chargers took Leaf, that the Packers took Mandarich or that the Raiders took Russell. They will exist somewhere forever. But at least those other teams didn’t put any special significance on their mistake. By refusing to let Pryor wear No. 2, the Raiders are just letting their most terrifying draft ghost linger.

Maybe the sting is still too harsh for the Raiders’ brass to see No. 2 on the field again. Maybe it’s just too soon and they, as these other teams with black marks on their draft history did, will come to their senses down the road.

The Raiders would be better off letting Pryor have his way and see if he can assign a whole new meaning to that number in the Silver and Black. If he succeeds, maybe he’ll become synonymous with No. 2. If he fails, it won’t change anything. This is a no-lose situation. The Raiders only lose when they keep reminding everyone that, yep, they drafted “that guy.” And he was so bad, they can’t let any player take on his number.

If an organization honestly thinks a number will negatively impact a player’s performance …

Well, it is the Raiders. Only Al Davis knows how they think, and Davis’ mind is truly unsafe for man and beast.

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