Reports have surfaced of a growing concern that Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson is underperforming this season and has become too much of a “celebrity” quarterback, according to Will Brinson of CBS Sports.
Brinson argues the assessment, however, stating that the Seahawks’ woes this season have little to do with Wilson underperforming and more with the underperformance of the offensive line in general and their proclivity to cough up late fourth quarter leads.
Still, Scott Polacek of Bleacher Report notes that there is scuttlebutt at Seahawks headquarters that Wilson, who has led the Seahawks to two straight Superbowl appearances and one win, has “changed his approached,” inferring that perhaps the newfound A-lister has adopted a more cautious approach to the field in an effort to maintain looks and health so as to continue appearing in commercial ads and cameo appearances. Brinson steadfastly posits that Wilson has maintained his dogged aggressiveness.
Wilson signed a big money contract during the off season with a four year, $87.6 million extension that has come on the heels of Wilson’s ascension to the top of the NFL’s quarterback club. Since pushing the Seahawks to their first Superbowl win just three seasons ago, Wilson saw his overall celebrity stock raise, quickly making the late night talk show circuit and appearing in various commercial campaign spots and television shows. In addition, Wilson began dating headline singer Ciara.
Polacek notes that Wilson was reportedly asked last season by the Seahawks to limit some of his commercial exposure in advertisements and endorsements due to an increasingly envious locker room.
The Seahawks were 4-5, with Wilson having thrown for 2,118 yards, with 355 rushing yards, and 10 touchdowns along with seven interceptions coming into today’s game against the San Francisco 49ers. In 2014, a similarly slow starting Seahawks team went 3 – 3 before ending up in their second straight Superbowl. While the Seahawks remain in playoff contention, it seems unlikely that Seattle would be able to string together enough victories while the Atlanta Falcons resume their decline in route to a wild card spot.
Wilson was drafted by Seattle in 2012 out of Wisconsin in the third round as the 75th overall pick. A two-sport athlete, Wilson was also drafted by the Major League Baseball Colorado Rockies franchise in 2010 while Wilson was at North Carolina State University, before transferring to Wisconsin. Wilson played for two seasons at the Class A level before being acquired by the Texas Rangers. Part of what has fueled speculation of Wilson as a “celebrity” quarterback has been Wilson’s attendance at Rangers Spring Training camp each of the past two seasons.
In addition to Wilson’s numerous endorsements, which include Levi’s Jeans, American Family Insurance, Pepsi, Nike, Alaska Airlines, Microsoft, Duracell, Braun, Bose, and United Airlines, Wilson has also appeared on the cover of several specialty magazines, including Sports Illustrated, Sports Illustrated Kids, Rolling Stone, ESPN The Magazine, Men’s Fitness, and Men’s Health. Wilson served as host of the 2015 Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards.
Noted for his exceptional athleticism and ability to move the ball effectively both in the air and on the ground, Wilson has surely delivered for the Seahawks establishing himself as an elite quarterback in the NFL. Certainly, it can be imagined that, were today’s NFL contracts not as lucrative as they are and were more in line with salaries 20 years ago that Wilson might have followed in the footsteps of Bo Jackson and Deion Sanders as an effective dual-sport athlete. However, it is just as likely that Texas only acquired Wilson’s contract after Wilson’s back-to-back Superbowl successes as a publicity stunt, which not only brought Seahawks fans to Arizona for Spring Training, but also added to Wilson’s pop culture appeal.
One thing is for certain: before Russell Wilson, very few outside of Seattle paid any attention to the Seattle Seahawks, and now, they are one of the NFL’s most popular teams.