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Russell Wilson & the Broncos: Forget the Contract. Where’s the Personality?

Russell Wilson’s 2022 Broncos contract received a lot of mixed reviews.  For some, it was a long overdue payday for the nine-time pro-bowl and super bowl champion.  For many in Seattle, he had more than proved his worth, despite a decline toward the end of his stay with the Seahawks.  

For others, all they could sink their teeth into was the depressing show of his final season with the Seattle Seahawks going into a $165 million dollar guaranteed deal with the Broncos.  For a quarterback who knew how to battle back and win, his middling stats reared their heads just enough that oddsmakers were willing to bet against the legendary quarterback.

To be fair, I sided with the latter because I can be a pessimist by instinct, but in an attempt to battle back against a decades-long habit of being a Byronic hero in my own movie, I took to the stats and analysts on Danger Russ’ side.  I came to understand the support behind the football layman Tony Robbins.  He certainly wasn’t a slouch or even visibly declining to the naked eye.  

But good lord, were we all a little wrong here.  As the season pulled into a record of 3-9, with zero divisional wins…and then ended 5-12, the media led an all-out onslaught campaign against Mr. Unlimited (Go ahead, say it the way Russ would say it in your head…we all do it).  

However, telling of the general sentiment around the league was not the comments on gameplay.  There were some rare moments in which analysts such as ESPN’s Domonique Foxworth pointed out that the Bronco’s defense was actually high-ranked and impressive.  Even then, those comments were overshadowed by the week 12 loss to the Carolina Panthers, in which a frustrated defensive player, nose tackle Mike Purcell, yelled at Russell Wilson on the sidelines like a sleep-deprived mother yelling at her kid in the car after he acted a fool in the grocery store.  

And moments like this are where the true frustration lies.  Reminiscent of the media’s frustration with Cam Newton during his painful season with the Patriots (granted, Newton hasn’t been able to get that loving feeling back to his gameplay in a really, really long time…), the talk is less about having an off-season.  Name one player who hasn’t found themselves in the 7th circle of hell during a season.  They don’t exist.  Even Brady has had some gameplay that would have many of us questioning if he missed his calling in the MLB as a young college-age man trying to find his way.  

The frustrations are not with the game or really with the contract.  It’s with Wilson’s utterly oblivious nature in the midst of it.

I wasn’t being funny when I used “Tony Robbins” as an example.  If anything, I was needlessly harsh on Tony.  He’s a natural at what he does; and seems genuine.  Wilson, on the other hand, seems like that friend of yours who clings to New Age doctrines to try and wave away the many discomforts of life.  

There’s no gravity in his language(although, if he veers into tears over his fellow teammates, like Raiders QB Derek Carr…tell him to pull back); there’s actionable analysis of the game (as much as I don’t like the Bills, I live for Josh Allen’s deep awareness of what needs to be fixed to win); there’s no fire in his gut…we don’t even get some self-deprecating levity.  

Russell Wilson is an answering machine…with a message from your mother who likes the other kid more: it’s a formality.  But let’s table that conversation for a minute…otherwise, Jameis Winston might have to catch a little flack as well.  

It’s Wilson’s apparent aloof nature that had had the opposite effect on the Bills fans rallying around an awful team for years and years before Allen appeared.  

NFL network’s Kyle Brandt really put it perfectly in his now infamous rant on Good Morning Football: “I think Russell Wilson is one of the least authentic personalities we have in this league,” Brandt said. “I think Russell Wilson is a poser. I don’t think that makes him a bad person; I think he’s a good person. I think he tries to be something that he’s not…When you make the $245 million, you’ve either gotta be a great guy with the locker room who loves you, or you’ve gotta be an amazing person…”.

Herein lies the dilemma: For his 34th birthday, Russell Wilson invited the team, and yet reportedly, less than half the team showed up.  He’s been known to dust off the press with his wife, Ciara, in tow, shades up, designer suit, “no comment.”  Finally, when his former teammates on the Seahawks were given a chance to dish on him, they really showed up in force and were so unabashed in their takedown of Wilson that it seems like most sports networks designed to rein it in before it all devolved into VH1’s basketball wives.  

Wilson was even booed by fans during numerous Broncos games.  

To all the men who have that one friend who always bragged about the women he’s “bagged,” and you thought to yourself, “Why do I hang out with this guy? I legit hate him..”, this is that situation, and similar to that unfortunate analogy, the issue is not that your friend is a “bad guy.”  I mean, an argument could be made when he sees women like trading cards…but I digress.  The issue is that your friend is not likable.  

And all he would have to do to gain an opportunity with you is be genuine for once in his life.  You didn’t “bag” anyone.  We both have piss weak game when it comes to women.  They cringe when we say “Hi!”.  And that’s ok.  Hell, it’s endearing when you can be honest about it.  

So, here’s a prayer and a plea for Russell: Knock the dust off; give the fans something to believe in; and if you have another season reminiscent of Ronda Rousey’s last appearances in the UFC, for the love of God, don’t peruse the pages of How to Win Friends and Influence People before you walk up to the microphone.  Tell me how you really feel.

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