Why did JaMarcus Russell call out former Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton during a recent appearance on The Pivot podcast?
When one examines the biggest-ever draft busts in NFL history, the name JaMarcus Russell constantly pops up. The former No. 1 overall selection bombed out miserably with the Oakland Raiders, compiling a 7-18 record and completing just 52.1 percent of his passes before his career came to an abrupt end after just three seasons.
Russell’s dealt with some substance-abuse issues since his time in the league concluded but seems to have turned his life around based on a recent appearance with Ryan Clark, Channing Crowder, and Fred Taylor on the sensational Pivot podcast.
However, it’s clear the LSU product still holds a grudge regarding comments made by Cam Newton that centered around money during his rookie season within a feature for ESPN magazine in 2011.
JaMarcus Russell calls out Cam Newton for contract comments in 2011
Newton blamed Russell and Vince Young for “messing up his money” after penning a $22 million rookie contract. Something that the retired signal-caller took an issue with and remains extremely bitter about to this day.
"“I never felt Cam Newton was a hell of a quarterback. He can run. He can throw, but it look like he hurt. When he throw, he don’t look fluid to me. But I ain’t get up there and said it on TV about Cam Newton. Right? JaMarcus Russell and Vince Young, guys like that, they’re the ones messed up the money. He ain’t said (expletive) about Sam Bradford. Bro, you’re going to get yours. And what you got — $100 million? Way more than I got, so what the (expletive) you mad for? Cam Newton, I ain’t got no beef with you, but when I see you, we do need to talk.”"
This resentment stems from how rookie contracts changed dramatically shortly after Russell was allocated a six-year, $61 million contract that included around $35 million guaranteed before taking a single NFL snap. A mistake that owners across the league were keen not to make again.
While the Raiders struck out in a big way with Russell, the Carolina Panthers found a real gem in Newton. The former Auburn standout completely transformed the organization from also-rans to legitimate contenders, reaching the Super Bowl in 2015 before falling short against the Denver Broncos.
Newton won the NFL MVP award that season and although injuries took their toll soon after, a discussion will be had regarding a Pro Football Hall of Fame berth when the player eventually calls it a day.
Perhaps Newton’s success is something that’s grating on Russell, to a certain extent. Even though he left the game behind in 2009.
The ex-pros on the Pivot stated they would be willing to facilitate a sit-down between Newton and Russell to clear the air. But just what either could get out of such a meeting at this juncture more than a decade after the original comments is another matter.
It’s great to see Russell doing so well after a turbulent time. He seemed at peace, but this was a player with everything going for him who just couldn’t put it all together.
As for Newton, his future prospects are looking murkier than ever after the Panthers traded for Baker Mayfield. But even if this is the end, his legacy in Carolina will live through the ages.