10 Egregiously Bad Sports Contracts


JaMarcus Russell

Taking a page from the Ryan Leaf playbook, JaMarcus Russell is another stellar college quarterback whose transition to pro ball was ... what's the opposite of stellar? Subterranean?

The Oakland Raiders snapped up the quarterback from Louisiana State University in 2007, fresh on the heels of Russell's MVP performance in the Sugar Bowl. But Russell's NFL debut was delayed while his agents hammered out one of the most lucrative (and eventually ludicrous) contracts in NFL history. Russell didn't attend a single day of training camp until he signed his six-year, $68 million deal. It turned out that Raiders coach Lane Kiffin was against the acquisition, but owner Al Davis pushed it through [source: Tafur].

The risk of this type of contract is that it's built entirely on expectation, not performance, and Russell would prove a monumental disappointment [source: Henderson]. Chronically overweight, Russell was in no shape to start for the Raiders until the very last game of the regular season [source: Pasquarelli].

Despite continuing problems with his weight -- he ballooned to 290 pounds (131.5 kilograms) during one off-season -- he held his starting position until his lackluster on-field performance earned him the third-string spot. An arrest for drug possession was the final straw and the Raiders released him in 2010. Over his three meager seasons with the Raiders, Russell was paid $39 million, which breaks down to $5 million per win and over $2 million per touchdown pass [source: Raber].