Oakland Raiders quarterback JaMarcus Russell broke his self-imposed media silence Thursday, speaking publicly since the first time he was benched for journeyman backup Bruce Gradkowski. Russell swore there was "no doubt" he's still the Raiders' quarteback of the future.
And he added there is no way he's renegotiating his $4.9 annual salary now that he's on the bench, thank you for asking.
"No doubt," Russell told the San Jose Mercury News, when asked if was still the team's future quarterback. "That hasn’t changed in my mind at all."
"I will work my butt off to be that guy," Russell said.
He didn't sound sore toward Bruce Gradkowski, at least not to the newspapers. "He’s my teammate," Russell said. "You’re all acting like I’m going against somebody else, it’s a big deal, but it’s really not."
Inevitably, Russell was asked if he's take a pay cut to stay with the Raiders, a la his also-benched cross-bay counterpart Alex Smith. "Oh, no," Russell responded, "That’s over and done with. I don’t even consider that as a part of it."
It's a sign of maturity for Russell to step up and address the media again, after ducking reporters for weeks. But it's a bad sign for Russell's career that his best hope is for Bruce Gradkowski to play his way out of the Raiders' price range.
Joe Kukura is a freelance writer who never doubts a man that promises to work his butt off.