Elway worried for Russell, hammers Raiders

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

If getting engaged to a former Raiders cheerleader wasn't enough, John Elway has further aggravated Raider Nation.

In a column for the Sporting News, the legendary Denver quarterback said young Raiders quarterback JaMarcus Russell won't be able to succeed in Oakland.

"JaMarcus Russell's only chance at NFL success is to get out of Oakland. OK, maybe that's harsh. But we all know it's his best chance at success," Elway writes.

This, courtesy of the Sporting News, is what else Elway wrote:

"The fastest way to ruin a quarterback is to put him on a bad team, with a bad line, with no weapons, with no continuity in the coaching staff. That pretty much describes the current Raiders. The game has passed Al Davis by, and he's the only one who doesn't know it. Every time the Raiders get a good coach -- Mike Shanahan, Jon Gruden, Norv Turner, etc. -- who doesn't buy into Al's outdated program, he fires him.

"It's this kind of organizational instability that can ruin a quarterback, like the Texans ruined David Carr and the Browns ruined Tim Couch. A young quarterback, especially a No. 1 guy with the weight of a city's expectations on his shoulders, can wilt. A young quarterback needs a calm, steady influence on and off the field. The first three years for an NFL quarterback are rocky no matter what. He needs a coach to teach him the game of football and a kind of father figure to nurture him and get him through the tough times off the field.

"Too bad JaMarcus didn't have the leverage I had in 1983; then he could've avoided the Raiders all together. ...

"I feel for JaMarcus. Physically, he has it all. He's an unbelievable talent -- strong arm, tall, big. In the right situation, he could have a great NFL career. In Oakland, he has almost no chance."

I'll say it for you: Wow.

This is, indeed, harsh but it can't just be thrown away as typical former-player hyperbole. Elway's words come across as well thought out. Elway certainly knows what it takes to be an NFL star. He isn't coming from left field here. And, let's face it, the Raiders have struggled.

Do I agree with Elway? I don't think it's as bad in Oakland anymore as Elway writes, and I don't think Russell is a lost cause there. But it is certainly interesting fodder.