For years, the choice was waiting for Russell Wilson to talk or going back to the press box and grabbing some of Lumen Field’s postgame chicken strips. And for a good portion of the media, chicken strips always won.
This wasn’t due to journalists’ perpetual propensity for free food (a prerequisite for cracking into the biz), but rather the predictability of the quarterback’s responses.
We knew, just like you did, that he was going to put the RW spin on every answer. He would compliment as many teammates as possible, downplay any mistakes and beam optimism regardless of the result. Nobody was mad at him for it — that’s how No. 3 is wired — but postgame answers didn’t seem essential.
The next time Wilson talks, however, will be different. There will be genuine intrigue after his most theatrical offseason yet. At the time this column was published, there was no indication as to whether he would be made available following Thursday’s Organized Team Activities workout in Renton. But there are questions. Questions such as …
Did you upset your offensive line, and have you taken any steps to quell any tension?
Rule No. 1 for anyone in the backfield is to thank your O-line at every opportunity. It comes off as cliché at times, but it’s necessary to appease the men playing the most thankless position in the game. But this offseason, Wilson essentially did the opposite. Via Zoom in February, he said point blank: “I’m frustrated at getting hit too much.”
This was probably more a shot at the front office than it was his teammates, but if you’re one of the five guys blocking for him, that can’t feel good. This wasn’t a generic “our team needs more help to compete for a championship.” It was — those guys aren’t getting the job done.
Yes, that is true to an extent. Wilson has taken more sacks than any other quarterback since he came into the league in 2012, and the 47 he took last season were the third-most in the NFL. But A) Wilson’s incessantly-scrambling style — where he regularly has the ball in his hands for more than five seconds — invites such sack numbers, and B) Even if his line is at fault — do you put it on blast for the whole world to hear?
And on that note …
Can you explain why you listed four other teams you’d want to play for?
The height of the offseason hoopla came when ESPN’s Adam Schefter tweeted out that Wilson’s agent, Mark Rodgers, said that, though Wilson wants to stay in Seattle, he would play for the Cowboys, Saints, Raiders or Bears if a trade were considered.
This is why Seahawks coach Pete Carroll saying in April that this buzz was all media-concocted is baloney. Wilson obviously conferred with Rodgers. Rodgers obviously went to Schefter knowing this would prompt speculation about Wilson’s desire to leave the Seahawks.
It would be one thing if Russell listed four teams in the midst of an unscripted interview (although even that would have been strange), but this was clearly calculated.
So what was the point of that? To goad the front office into making more moves? To spur one of the four aforementioned teams into putting together a trade package? To simply troll? It just all seemed a little out of character for Mr. “Go Hawks!” How will he respond?
Why should fans be convinced you want to be here long-term?
Simply asking, “Do you want to be here?” will likely get an, “Of course” from Wilson. But the events of the offseason have prompted justifiable doubt that Wilson wants to finish his career in Seattle.
Perhaps he was simply acting in the moment, as so many of us do. He hadn’t been to the Super Bowl since his third year in the league, was frustrated that he was watching it from a suite, and made the Russell Wilson version of a fuss (much more low-key than a typical fuss). Or maybe there are differences that will cause him to move on once his contract is up.
Again, we don’t know when he’ll talk next. But when he does, typical clichés won’t cut it.
He raised questions all offseason long. This time, just about everyone in media — and most of Wilson’s fans — want answers.