Former Raiders quarterback JaMarcus Russell reportedly was arrested July 5 at his home in Mobile, Ala., for possession of a controlled substance — codeine syrup.
Russell, right, reportedly was booked into Mobile Metro jail following his arrest. He was released later during the day after posting a $2,500 bail.
On July 20, Russell pleaded not guilty to a charge of illegal drug possession. A hearing in his case reportedly is set for Aug. 11 to determine if there is enough evidence to send the case to a grand jury
Russell, 24, was released by the Raiders in May after three unproductive seasons.
His arrest for alleged possession of codeine syrup resulted from a two-month undercover investigation that could result in more arrests, The Associated Press reported July 6.
Mobile County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Lori Myles on July 6 told the AP that the investigation wasn’t targeting Russell but that his name and home address had come up several times. Myles said that forensic tests to determine the amount of codeine syrup involved sometimes takes up to a week.
Codeine syrup reportedly is used in a recreational drink known as “purple drank,” “lean” or “sizzurp” as a means of enhancing the effects of alcohol.
People reportedly who use purple drank tend to mix prescription-strength cough syrup, which contains the narcotic codeine and the antihistamine promethazine, with alcohol or a soft drink such as 7-Up and, Jolly Ranchers candy. The name purple drank comes from the dyes in the cough syrup.
The Raiders issued a statement on their website two days after Russell was arrested:
“We did all that we could to intervene and assist with a myriad of issues with JaMarcus Russell,” the statement said. “NFL policy restricts our ability to comment publicly at this time.
“Therefore, those in the media who declare what the Raiders knew or should have known or what the Raiders did or should have done, are reckless, irresponsible and offensive, and do a disservice to all concerned, including the public.”
Rumors of Russell being addicted to purple drank reportedly surfaced early during his Raiders career. However, no one ever provided concrete evidence of the former Louisiana State star being addicted or his performance being affected by alleged off-field drug use. There also is no direct evidence of Russell playing under the influence of codeine syrup.
The Raiders selected Russell with the first overall pick in the 2007 NFL draft. He reportedly had been paid about $36.4 million through the 2009 season and was still owed $3 million at the time of his release May 6.
The Raiders have filed a grievance seeking $9.55 million from Russell in what they say was paid as salary advances for the 2010-12 seasons.
Russell won only seven of his 25 starts as the Raiders extended an NFL-worst streak to seven straight seasons with at least 11 losses. He completed just 52.1 percent of his passes in his career with 18 touchdowns, 23 interceptions, 15 lost fumbles and a passer rating of 65.2.
Russell reportedly was fined last year for being overweight when he showed up at training camp. He then put together one of the worst seasons in recent memory for an NFL quarterback — completing 48.8 percent of his passes, with three touchdowns, 11 interceptions and a 50.0 passer rating that was the lowest in 11 years.