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Jamarcus Russell: Folk hero

Are you finally done with your insults, jokes, vitriol and condescension aimed at JaMarcus Russell?

Will you agree to stop recycling the bit (admittedly still hilarious) about Russell checking into rehab for lethargy addiction?

Are you finally ready to hear an alternative point of view regarding JaMarcus Russell?

I was going to write "poor JaMarcus Russell," but he isn't poor, is he? He was poor. Well, he came from working-class parents (his mother was a secretary; his dad a factory worker), but ever since the Reagan years, working class has been synonymous with poor.

Anyway, three years ago Russell became the opposite of poor. And that's the root of your sneering, belittling attitude toward Russell, isn't it? You cling, perhaps only vicariously but you cling nonetheless, to your pompous, holier-than-thou, supposedly good old-fashion WASP work ethic and you judge Russell to be guilty of having egregiously violated it because it looks like he'll become Ryan Leaf instead of John Elway.

Get over it.

As you know, Russell, the quarterback out of Louisiana State University, was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2007 NFL draft. That's not unlike hitting the lottery.

Americans like to think of themselves as hard-working, never expecting something for nothing. Yet we're addicted to lotteries, the whole lure of which is to hit a jackpot — to get a whole lot of something for basically nothing.

When the average, poor, working-class American hits the lottery, happiness isn't guaranteed; neither is self-fulfillment or personal pleasure. The only thing that's guaranteed when the average, poor, working-class American hits the lottery is instant wealth. Even that's precarious.

Well, it's not that different for football players. Stardom isn't guaranteed by being the first overall draft pick. Success isn't guaranteed, either. Nor popularity. The only thing that is guaranteed by being the No. 1 overall NFL draft pick is instant wealth.


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