Editorial

Lane Kiffin Says JaMarcus Russell Wasn’t Ready To Be A Millionaire, He Wanted To Draft Calvin Johnson

REUTERS/Gary Wiepert

David Hookstead Smoke Room Editor-in-Chief
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Ole Miss football coach Lane Kiffin recently recounted an incredible story from his time with the Oakland Raiders.

Al Davis and the Raiders hired Lane Kiffin to be their head coach well over a decade ago, and it was an unmitigated disaster. One of the reasons why was because the team drafted quarterback JaMarcus Russell over Calvin Johnson, and Kiffin didn’t want that to happen. (RELATED: David Hookstead Is The True King In The North When It Comes To College Football)

The Ole Miss coach told Dan LeBatard the following about the situation, according to ProFootballTalk:

It was midnight the night before the draft. I said, ‘We’re going to pay this guy $63 million and he’s not ready for it.’ I said I wouldn’t be ready for it at 21. He’s not ready for that and hasn’t played very much…Calvin Johnson was there. I said, Calvin Johnson is the best receiver I’ve ever seen, ever, work out in my life. This guy is going to be one of the best ever.

JaMarcus Russell will forever be one of the biggest draft busts ever taken. He went first overall in 2007 to the Raiders, and was a disaster on every level in the NFL.

It went off the rails almost immediately.

It’s only made much worse by the fact Calvin Johnson went number two to the Detroit Lions, and he turned into a future Hall of Fame member.

I think it’s safe to say Lane Kiffin got this one 100% correct when he wanted Al Davis to pick Johnson. I don’t understand how anybody could have gone Russell over Johnson, but that’s exactly what Al Davis did.

We’ll never know what would have happened if the Raiders had taken Johnson. Would they have been more successful and would Kiffin still be their coach?

Who knows. All we know for sure is that Kiffin is now running the Rebels, and I love it.