Right off the bat, I’d like to point out that I’m as guilty of it as anyone. I’m no scold; I’ll own up to it: I’m delighting in the struggles of Russell Wilson.
This goes beyond rooting against the Broncos because we have their top two picks next year, though that plays a HUGE part in it. But, there’s something about Russell Wilson that rubs me the wrong way. So, I’m sort of relishing in the numbers being thrown around on Twitter, I’m laughing at the mocking of the front he puts on for the media and his weird videos/commercials, and I’m even a little smug about his injury issues (as if I could see it coming and I’m saying to no one “I told you so”).
Russell Wilson is kind of a fascinating character (and I say that intentionally; I think he’s playing a character in front of everyone, at least when it comes to his professional and public self), because there’s so much awkward weird robotic-ness that we can see, there are so many stories bandied about him behind the scenes, there are even more whispers about him that are maybe-rumors/maybe-lies/maybe-truths, and then there’s just so much that we absolutely don’t know. We don’t know what he’s like behind closed doors, with close friends and family (and advisors and agents and lawyers and hangers on). This could just be who he is with everyone, and everyone puts up with it because he makes them a lot of money. Or, he could be a total 180 of a person in his private life.
We also don’t know what it’s like to be in Russell Wilson’s head. He’s had this persona drilled into him from such a young age, it might be impossible to ever know the difference. Maybe there’s a little internal Russ that was proverbially beaten out of him at a young age, to the point where he just doesn’t know how to interact with human beings. He’s seen video of humans interacting. He’s watched others around him. He can sort of emulate human actions, human speech, human emotions. But, the driven part of his personality – the overwhelming majority of the internal Russell Wilson – just absorbs everything.
He sounds insufferable. It also sounds exhausting to be him. Not just from a workout perspective, but from a lifestyle perspective. He can’t just be a regular dude in his down time. He’s gotta be Russell Wilson, Professional Professional.
At the same time, he doesn’t seem like a bad guy. Now, who knows, right? There could be plenty of sinister skeletons in his closet featuring a bevy of alleged crimes. But, really, he seems like an okay person. He visits kids in children’s hospitals. Granted, that’s part of this persona he concocted; he’s not just the wannabe NFL Hall of Famer, but he’s the Children’s Hospital Guy. Nevertheless, he does it! He follows through. To a lot of fanfare at first, and then to little-to-no fanfare after a while. Week-in and week-out. Presumably; I’m not the keeper of Russell Wilson’s schedule. I haven’t heard anything to the contrary though.
He reminds me a lot of Michael Jackson, minus all the alleged diddling. But, we’re talking about guys who never really got to have childhoods, who were conditioned from a very young age to be in front of cameras and to be in front of thousands of adoring fans. We’re talking about people who reached the heights of their professions, who have the drive to be the very best, but at an obvious personal price. Obviously, Michael Jackson came out much more fucked up than Russell Wilson, but I would argue there’s real damage to Wilson’s development. You gotta wonder: does he have childhood friends? Or, was he always more emotionally attuned to being around adults? Was he the kid who was better friends with his coaches and teachers than his fellow players and students? Or worse, did he used to have a bunch of childhood friends and maintained a lot of normal relationships growing up, only to eschew them once he advanced through college and into the pros? I don’t know what’s sadder, but I would give almost any amount of money to get a sit-down with his ex-wife and listen to her tell stories for three hours.
Part of me feels bad for him, but like I keep saying, I don’t know him at all. He could be a colossal dick for all I know! Regardless, he doesn’t seem to be very grounded. There are plenty of mega-celebs out there who can make themselves look very down to earth and “everyman”. Russell Wilson is not one of them.
I don’t hate Russell Wilson. I don’t even dislike him. I’m pretty neutral on the persona he throws out there, and even if he is a phony, he still does enough good things (or, at least, not-bad things) to make himself likable. Okay, so he doesn’t get along or even try to associate with teammates. Okay, so his personality rubs some media people the wrong way. He’s not Opinionated Aaron Rodgers. He’s not Folksy Peyton Manning. He’s not Unfiltered Charles Barkley. Hell, he’s not even Tom Brady (who’s about as guarded as it gets, yet can still be charming as all get-out when he wants to be). That doesn’t make him a villain.
And oh, by the way, he also helped lead the Seahawks to their only Super Bowl championship (and two of their three appearances). Was he the be-all/end-all of quarterbacks? No, but he’s still the best we’ve ever had. Was the single-handedly the reason why those teams were good and we won all those games? Of course not, there were a lot of future Hall of Famers on those teams (and otherwise very good players) who gave us the magic elixir to win at such a high rate. But, I will say that we couldn’t have swapped Russell Wilson out for just anyone. We still needed his very specific magic to pull off what we were able to pull off. I refuse to discount everything he’s ever done to bring the Seahawks to greatness just because he’s been on the downslide of his career for the last few seasons.
I agree wholeheartedly with the decision to trade Russell Wilson. I think the Seahawks are in a much better place now. If I’m being honest, I think the rebuild started maybe a year or two too late. I also – not for nothing – probably would’ve gotten over it if we’d never offered him that third contract. If we had been able to draft a Josh Allen or a Patrick Mahomes, I would’ve gladly moved on way back when. I was worried about Russell Wilson being a potential problem back when he was on his rookie deal. I wish I could pull it, because I remember specifically writing about how all of these guys become me-first divas. They start worrying more about their stats and their legacy than they do about winning. Russell Wilson was never going to be the game manager Pete Carroll wanted him to be. He wasn’t even a game manager back when the Seahawks were competing for Super Bowls, but he was also much more willing to play within the conservative system we’d set up around him. Starting with 2015 and beyond, it became more about his quest for MVP votes. And, unfortunately for him, you can’t buy those, and you can’t win them in a popularity contest. You have to earn them on the field. And, more often than not, it was Russell Wilson’s own failing that prevented him from taking that next step.
That being said, for the most part, I relished every minute that Russell Wilson was a Seattle Seahawk. He was fun as hell to watch! The way he was able to elude pressure and generate huge plays down field will be something I never forget. He might not be an MVP, he might not even make the Hall of Fame when it’s all said and done, but he has a Hall of Fame highlight reel that you could put up against any of the all-time greats. I’m not kidding. There’s never been a Seahawk with a better set of highlights. There might not be anyone else in the NFL today who can top Russ. Maybe Mahomes, but I would argue the variety of plays we’ve seen out of Wilson is unmatched. Not just in blowouts, not just in random Sunday afternoon home games, but in the biggest moments, on the biggest stages, with the whole world watching.
So, why do I have such schadenfreude towards him?
It’s a real primal reaction, I should say that. There’s very little logic to it, given the way I’ve laid it out today. I imagine it’s the way one would feel about an ex who’s moved on. Maybe you didn’t part on the best of terms, but it also wasn’t the messiest divorce either. Nevertheless, there’s an animal inside of you who wants them to be forever suffering with regret for shunning you the way they did.
To be fair, there’s very little logic to being a fan of sports teams period! So, this falls right in line with that. You don’t want to play for the Seahawks anymore? Then fuck you, I hope you’re miserable for the rest of your days.
There’s also part of me that relishes in being right. Everyone has to pick a side in any argument nowadays, and I staked my claim pretty publicly that I think the Seahawks are in the right – sticking with Pete and John – and I’d rather head into a rebuild with those two guys making the calls, over a new front office catering to Russell Wilson’s every whim. I wanted no part in a Russell Wilson contract that saw him earning upwards of $50 million a year. I wanted no part in another protracted negotiating year of back-and-forth leaked sniping to the media ahead of an inevitable contract extension. And I wanted no part of an older, slower, less accurate Russell Wilson in the twilight of his career.
Really, I was done with the whole online discourse. The chicken or the egg argument of who’s at fault, Pete Carroll for holding Russ back, or Russell Wilson for not playing within our offensive system. A system, mind you, that he personally vouched for and approved, in bringing over Shane Waldron from the Rams. Let’s just be done with it and find out once and for all.
And, not to toot my own horn or anything, but at this early juncture it seems like the right moves were made. Get rid of Russell Wilson, acquire lots of draft picks, and use all your draft picks to bolster the rest of this roster ahead of the next great Seahawks quarterback.
The only question that remains is: will that Next Great Seahawks Quarterback be someone who’s been here all along – Geno Smith – or will it be whoever we look to draft next year? I think that’s a legitimate question that will only get murkier in the coming months.
One answer to a question no one asked – who is better, Russell Wilson or Geno Smith – appears to be answered before our very eyes. I’ve seen plenty of Wilson in a Broncos jersey to date this season, and both my eyes and the numbers bear it out: Geno Smith in a landslide. Not that I’m the biggest Geno Believer or anything, but that’s pretty cool to see.
It’s fun to be a Seahawks fan again. I wasn’t able to say that all the time in recent years. And, if you base fun on a team’s ability to compete at a championship level, then this team hasn’t been fun since 2015 (not that we’re a potential championship team this year, but that’s just illustrative of long we’ve been waning in this league). We were always in it for the playoffs and the division (until 2021), but we never felt like a legitimate contender in all those years since. It felt more like we needed an unsustainable amount of Russell Wilson wizardry pulling our asses out of the fire for things to go our way.
Lo and behold, all that time, we never realized how much Russell Wilson was actually putting us INTO those fires he tried so desperately to then pull us out of. Was he doing it intentionally? Was he that psycho mom who poisons her child, just so they have to depend on her nursing them back to health? Maybe not consciously, but I’m sure he didn’t hate being the hero to pull everyone to safety, while at the same time being falsely modest afterwards. I’m willing to believe Russell Wilson is a pretty big narcissist; him being humble is part of the act I just don’t buy. He might not feel comfortable talking himself up, but I bet he loves it when everyone else does.
Well, no one’s talking him up now. Quite the contrary. Everyone’s all too happily digging his grave. At some point, it’ll come around to being sad again. But now? This year? Let’s bury the motherfucker. The Seahawks could use a top 5 draft pick, and they’re sure as shit not going to get there with their own draft placement!