Up in Northern California, meanwhile, longtime fans at Lincoln of Stockton are remembering one of the best football players, and perhaps the best all-around athlete, the school has ever had.
Jeff Russell, just 41, died over the weekend in Houston from a form of cancer he had been battling for two years. Russell didn’t make in the NFL, but played in the AFL, XFL and indoors. He also was a former GM of the Utah Blaze.
Former Lincoln coach Jim Rubiales told the Stockton Record he thought Russell, who graduated in 1987, was the school’s top all-around athlete. He also starred in basketball and baseball and was a top kicker in football. In addition, Russell stood out at the University of the Pacific, finishing up one year before that football program was discontinued.
We saw him in several games during those years. If he was just a little bit taller and weighed about 15 to 20 pounds more, he would have been in the NFL for sure. As a leader, Russell had many of the same qualities of a safety who did make it in the NFL, the late Pat Tillman.