As a proud University of Wisconsin alumnus, I will always have a soft spot for Russell Wilson, who played what is almost certainly the single best season of quarterback that the school has ever seen. I will also always hate Russell, just a bit, for the 2014 NFC Championship Game, which is certainly one of the five worst losses in Packer history.
All of that said, what cannot be disputed is that Russell Wilson is a huge weirdo who is kind of like Aaron Rodgers, but not quite the same. Aaron seems more agenda-driven. Aaron weirdness is always all about Aaron, and is genuinely a cry for everyone to pay attention to him. Wilson’s weirdness is more random, and often leaked rather than yelled. Wilson is more an agent of pure chaos, and as the Packers face Wilson and the Broncos this week, I thought it might be useful to examine just what makes Russell Wilson such a bizarre character.
Long before Aaron Rodgers was “immunized,” Russell Wilson was pedaling quackery that seems almost quaint by comparison. I mean, this is some Pete’s Dragon medicine show-level stuff here. In the previously mentioned NFC Championship game (which I promise not to mention again after this) Wilson was hit hard by Clay Matthews and probably concussed, which led to one of the first high-profile mentions by Wilson of Reliant Recovery Water. As reported by Rolling Stone:
“Wilson is an investor in Reliant Reliant Recovery Water, a $3-per-bottle concoction with nanobubbles and electrolytes that purportedly helps people recover quickly from workouts and, according to Wilson, injury. He mentions a teammate whose knee healed miraculously, and then he shares his own testimonial.”
This is all nonsense of course. Given his investment, if Reliant Recovery Water could heal concussions, Russell Wilson wouldn’t have to play football anymore. But that’s not the only weird product endorsed by Wilson. There is also this product called Eat the Ball:
This product was controversial for several reasons, including the absurdity of something called educational football bread, and of course, allegations of not paying employees, but also just weirdness.
Many professional athletes maintain polished personas. Not every athlete maintains the persona of an upstanding professional. Some try to be “authentic,” or confrontational, or counter-cultural, but Russell Wilson is none of those things. Wilson is a devout Christian and some of his eccentricities, like this one, fit into that category (which is fine, and only really made unusual by the fact that he has a celebrity wife, Ciara, and that celebrity marriages are usually not this wholesome). But then we get “Broncos Country, Let’s Ride” and its ilk. He’s awkward on camera, and comes across as a weird type of faux earnest. Maybe it’s genuine earnestness, but regardless, there’s not really another athlete like him. Especially if the high knees on the airplane story is true.
I was walking up and down the aisle, everybody else was knocked out, I was doing high knees, working my legs and everything else, making sure I was ready to rock. That was good. Then I fell asleep for one hour and I watched film for the rest. I felt good to go.
There’s the bizarre, much-mocked contract announcement from his own bed.
And of course, the “Golden Tate situation,” as follows:
“There was a rumor out there that I was not coming back to the Seahawks because Ashton, Russell’s wife at the time, had an affair with me which was completely not true,” Tate said. “In fact, my wife now (Elise Tate), and Ashton, were best friends and still are really good friends. In fact, Ashton came to our wedding.
“Russell and I had had conversations about his future in regards to that,” Tate continued. “So when I heard that, I was like that’s kinda creative and kinda funny but it picked up stream, and I feel like I was never defended properly. It kind of made me angry because now, everyone’s just coming at me completely sideways and I’m not being defended. It was a whole big situation and I just felt like a scapegoat in a way. I was bitter for years, y’all. Years.”
And then there’s his alter ego, “Mr Unlimited.”
I think the main issue with all of this is it’s very difficult to tell just who the real Russell Wilson is. He always seems like he’s attempting to play some part, maybe because he’s uncomfortable with himself. You always know exactly what you’ll get with Aaron Rodgers. Wilson, on the other hand, is all over the place.
Russell On the Field
And none of this would matter a lick if it didn’t follow Russell onto the field, but he seems to have been a prickly locker room presence generally, and there have been rumors that he’s been either unprepared or weird, using Seahawks audibles while quarterbacking the Broncos.
Wilson has been a very good NFL quarterback and frankly, I wish I would have had the opportunity to write about him more. This kind of stuff is pageview gold! But he’s going to leave behind such a confusing legacy when he’s gone. He is one of the true unique personalities and there is just no telling what you get from him on a day to day basis.
He even seems to attract weird things that he has nothing to do with, like the Fail Mary. It was once common to accuse the Seahawks of never playing a normal game, and Wilson is one of the big reasons why. He was also the subject of the greatest announcer call in the history of football.