Brian Russell is a former professional football player. During his athletic career, he played Safety for the Minnesota Vikings, Cleveland Browns, Seattle Seahawks, Jacksonville Jaguars and the Houston Texans. In 2003, he tied with Tony Parrish for the league lead in interceptions. And, as is the case with most pro players, he first showed his potential pro-level athleticism while still in high school.
Bishop Amat High School
Bishop Amat High School is in La Puente, California, about 20 miles east of downtown Los Angeles. It has a coeducational student body with about 1,520 students in grades 9 through 12. Bishop Amat is the largest private high school in Los Angeles County.
Several notable alumni came from Bishop Amat including several NFL players. They include:
- Troy Auzenne
- Eric Bieniemy
- Kory Minor
- William Robinson
- Ryan Smith
- Ralph Brown
- John Sciarra
Brian Russell belonged to the class of 1996. In 1993, 1994 and 1995, the teams he played for won the Del Rey League championship. In fact, as quarterback in 1995, he helped the Lancers win the 1995 CIF (California Interscholastic Federation) Division I title. Individually, Brian was named All-Del Rey League. He also earned MVP at the annual East-West All-Star Game.
In 1996, he began his career at the University of Pennsylvania. While attending, he was the first freshman player in the school’s history to start as quarterback. His 10 game stats included 27 completions in 43 attempts. He also threw four touchdowns and four interceptions.
But playing for Penn wasn’t enough for this hungry athlete. The ambitious young man wanted to play at a higher level. Eventually, he ended up getting a scholarship at Division 1-A level San Diego State University.
He was redshirted in the 1997 season. In the second game of 1998, he replace the injured starter and began playing as quarterback. While in this position, Brian Russell led the Aztecs to the Las Vegas Bowl, scoring five rushing touchdowns along the way. It was San Diego State’s first bowl appearance in seven years. And Brian’s five touchdowns were the most scored by a San Diego State quarterback since 1981.
In 1999, he was asked to switch to safety. It seemed a more natural fit for his athletic abilities. And Brian proved he had extraordinary football skills. He instantly became the Aztec starter at free safety. In fact, in his first game, he made 10 tackles! This included three solo stops in a row.
During the season, he made 41 solo tackles, intercepted one pass and recovered two fumbles. His accomplishments earned him a mention at the All-Mountain West Conference.
Brian Russell in the NFL
Brian wasn’t picked for the 2001 NFL draft. But rather than getting discouraged, he signed with the Minnesota Vikings as an undrafted free agent. He spent the whole season on the team’s practice squad. And a year later, he even came close to getting cut from the team. However, the Vikings defensive coordinator, Willie Shaw, persuaded the head coach to let Russell play.
In 2003, Brian Russell came into his own and was picked as a full time starter for the team. He had an interception in each of the first six games. That’s the year he tied with Tony Parrish with nine interceptions, the most in the league.
A highlight game for the safety that year came against the Kansas City Chiefs. He had two interceptions and one fumble recovery. This tied a team record for the most takeaways.
As free safety in 2004, the athlete started all 16 games. He had an interception in the regular season as well as in the post season. He also made 111 tackles. The team made the playoffs. Although the Vikings beat Green Bay in the first game, they lost to the Philadelphia Eagles in the next round.
In 2005, he was an unrestricted free agent. He joined the Cleveland Browns and started all 16 regular season games. His stats at year’s end included 70 tackles and three interceptions. The next year, he suffered an elbow injury and his season was shortened. He played in 12 games, had 51 tackles and 1 interception. He ended up on injured reserve.
In 2007, Brian signed with the Seattle Seahawks as an unrestricted free agent. He played in all 16 games, recording 68 tackles and one interception. In 2008, he also started all 16 games but was released at the end of the season.
Brian completed his solid career with the Jacksonville Jaguars and Houston Texans. His last year in the league was 2009. He ended up with a total of 477 tackles and 16 interceptions for his career.
Outside the Lines
Brian Russell became very involved in community organizations as a player. He gave a significant amount of time to the Boys and Girls Clubs of King County in Washington. This organization offers several activities for local children. They primarily focus on three areas:
- Academics- Programs revolve around improving grades, reducing drop-out rates and allowing children to view themselves as curious learners.
- Healthy Living- Programs include teaching healthy behaviors, reducing childhood obesity and drug use, and engendering a positive self-image in all children.
- Good Character- Programs include encouraging community service activity, reducing juvenile crime, and instilling an attitude of healthy engagement.
Programs are designed to meet the needs of the youth in the surrounding communities of the clubs. They include:
- Afterschool Games and Gym Activities: Billiards, foosball, ping pong, board games, basketball, soccer, active games, playground
- Teen Nights: Basketball, computers, dance, supervision, concessions, games room
- Coaching: Flag football, tackle football, baseball, basketball, volleyball, soccer, martial arts, wrestling, track, dodge ball
- Education and Tutoring: Homework assistance, tutoring, storytelling, word processing, web design, internet surfing, tech support, supervision
- Special Skills: Cooking, art, dance, magic, outdoors, environmental education, biking
Brian likes participating in these activities that assist young people at critical times in their lives.
Brian Russell is a former NFL player who played safety for several NFL teams. As a football player, Brian Russell understands the importance of giving back to the community. Brian Russell continued his education after he left the game.
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