Russell the NFL's new 'biggest bust'?

MIKE GANTER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:27 PM ET

Maybe itís time to turn over a new Leaf.

Or maybe itís just time to let this particular Leaf rest in retirement.

Ryan Leaf, not undeservedly, has been at the top of each and every all-time NFL draft busts list since the San Diego Chargers took him with the second-overall pick in 1998.

But now thereís a bigger bust ready to assume that mantle and Leafís reign appears to be over.

Not only was JaMarcus Russellís fall from grace a bigger drop ó he was drafted first overall while Leaf was the No. 2 pick behind Peyton Manning nine years earlier ó Russell also will wind up getting something close to half his $68-million, six-year deal when all is said and done, a tax bracket Leaf never got close to.

And thatís assuming the Raiders do the expected and cut him loose by the end of the week. There were reports late Wednesday afternoon that Russell is not on the way out.

In fact, the latest reports out of ESPN suggest the Raiders have every intention of having Russell at their mini-camp beginning Friday ó that they actually obtained former Redskins pivot Jason Campbell in order to tutor Russell, not replace him.

Either way itís hard to imagine Russell overcoming his march to NFL ignominy.

From his initial holdout that cost him a pivotal first training camp to his indifferent attitude toward his profession, Russell has given absolutely no indication that he even wants to succeed at this level.

Maybe it was the instant millions. At LSU, there was scant indication of a poor work ethic. The exact opposite in fact.

But sadly that has not been the story in the pros.

From missed meetings to an ever-increasing waist-line, Russell has been the epitome of the donít-care professional.

So while Leaf eases out of the spotlight ó heís the business development manager of Vancouver, B.C. -based West Coast Resorts, an outfit that organizes fishing retreats ó it is Russell who will step into the unwanted limelight and assume that title of biggest bust of all time.

Whether that happens this week after the Raiders dump him or somewhere down the line, Leaf should be able to rest easier in the not-too-distant future.

TONGUES ARE WAGGING: Miami GM Jeff Ireland was the topic du jour on Wednesday as word spread of the inappropriate question ó ďIs your mother a prostitute?Ē ó he posed to Oklahoma State and eventual Dallas Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant. Reaction ranged from downright disgust to Ďa team prepared to spend millions of dollars can ask whatever they want.í Former Miami fullback Rob Konrad sent an unsolicited e-mail to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel defending Ireland. ďItís important to keep in mind the context of these interviews, the prospect of guaranteeing a 22-year-old stranger millions of dollars to enter one of the most competitive, intolerant and insensitive professional work environments around,Ē Konrad wrote. ďIím not attempting to defend the question asked, but rather the person and the process. Having been through those interviews, in the locker room and on the field, I can tell you that the work environment in the NFL is unique, one that would be unacceptable in virtually any other industry. The questions asked by teams in pre-draft interviews usually have the dual purpose of getting to know the player and testing their mindset.Ē

AT THE HALF: According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, quarterback Jeff Garcia is no longer in the Philadelphia Eaglesí plans. The Eagles took Mike Kafka in the fourth round of the draft and he is expected to be Kevin Kolbís backup this season ... Free-agent safety Darren Sharper has started making the rounds and this should have the New Orleans Saints fans a little nervous. Sharper, who had nine interceptions, three returned for touchdowns in the Saintsí run to the Super Bowl, was in Jacksonville Wednesday assessing their level of interest. Another visit to Dallas is expected. Sharper has gone on record saying he wants to return to the Saints but if he finds more lucrative compensation elsewhere, chances are the Saints might be without a key member of their defence next season. At the age of 34, Sharper is focussed on maximizing his earnings at this point late in his career.

FOURTH AND INCHES: The Broncos suffered a loss Wednesday when it was revealed starting left tackle Ryan Clady suffered a partially torn patellar tendon playing basketball. Clady, a Pro-Bowler, has started every game for the Broncos since he was selected in the first round of the 2008 draft. The incident occurred on the weekend and he had the surgery on Tuesday. The team remains hopeful that Clady will be able to play in the season opener Sept. 12 in Jacksonville ... The NFL will lose its longest-serving kicker on Friday according to the New York Post. Punter Jeff Feagles, at the ripe old age of 44 will hang up his cleats after a career that saw him amass 71,211 yards in punts. Thatís a little under 40 1/2 miles for those too lazy to do the math ... The Chicago Bears sent safety Kevin Payne to the St. Louis Rams on Wednesday for an undisclosed pick in next yearís draft. The return of former Bear Chris Harris from Carolina made Payne expendable.


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