Evidently, "what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas" doesn't always apply.
While the rest of the Oakland Raiders were stuck in a mandatory end-of-season team meeting in Alameda Tuesday, an alert Raiders fan spotted quarterback JaMarcus Russell partying at The Palms Resort & Casino in Las Vegas. Cam Inman of the San Jose Mercury News confirmed the tip was true, tweeting, "Russell, who skipped final team meeting, apparently in Vegas at Palms. Tip via column reader; hotel front desk confirms."
You gotta be more careful skipping those mandatory meetings, JaMarcus. Raider Nation is everywhere.
Coach Cable said that Russell's absence Tuesday was excused for "personal matters", but Raiders teammates were already complaining to reporters off-the-record about JaMarcus skipping yet another team function. "It’s fair to say Russell’s absence did not go unnoticed in the locker room," Jerry McDonald said euphemistically on his Oakland Tribune Raiders blog. David White writes on his Chronicle blog that a certain unnamed Raider "couldn't hide his disgust."
Cam Inman had just written a critical article on Russell for Monday's Mercury News. The next day in the Merc's comments section, commenter "Rico997" spotted Russell in Vegas and remarked online: "Obviously Jamarcus' off season program has already began. He just checked in to the Palms in 'Vegas. Needs to recover after this rough season."
As you can guess, the blogs are just having a field day with this news. A commenter at Deadspin wisecracks, "Inside sources said they booted him from the casino... kept tossing the cards on the floor."
The Raiders are still on the hook with Russell for another three years and at least $15 million, so we can only hope he's able to learn a lesson from this. Like, next time, check in under the name "Bruce Gradkowski".
Joe Kukura is a freelance writer who would write nicer things about JaMarcus if he would only invite me with him on one of these Vegas trips.