Sometime this off-season, Russell Wilson is going to have to answer some questions about why he contemplated leaving the Seahawks, yet now is happy enough to return. His responses will be intriguing, particularly in view of the continuing drama with Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay. Who knows? Rodgers may be clearing a figurative runway that may be around for Wilson’s flight in a year.
Before Wilson steps to the Zoom podium, the campaign to rehabilitate his image appears underway. Rodgers may be a help there too — he has gone from medium maintenance to high maintenance, at least in the eyes of Packers management. Wilson, meanwhile, can be seen as having gone from low to medium maintenance, so that reputational damage can be minimized by a favorable contrast.
Pete Carroll is a willing participant in the rehab, because he needs Wilson committed mind and body for an NFC West that has armored up at quarterback (Matthew Stafford in Los Angeles, Trey Lance in San Francisco) precisely because Wilson has been a decade-long pain in the ass.
Describing Wilson’s public airing of grievances in February, a violation of the Seahawks coach’s prime directive to protect the team, as “really old news,” Carroll went on Rich Eisen’s NFL Network show Friday to off-load some responsibility for the tumult onto everyone’s easy target, the click-bait-drunk media.
“You had certain guys that just decided to keep the story going, and they just wanted to keep beating it,” he said. “It really was much bigger than that it was for us internally. I thought we handled it really well.”
When in doubt, blame the media. Especially when talking to the league’s propaganda arm that assures no hard questions about one of its premier players.
As he did in a previous conference with local reporters, Carroll claimed he had steady, positive, private conversations with Wilson as the media storm rose and fell, while none of the parties offered apologies, retractions or counter-attacks. Thus everything now is cool.
“What it amounted to was I think a refocusing,” he said, “making sure that we were on the same page, making sure that we were clear so that we could withstand any of the scrutiny that would come towards us, and we did that.”
He said Wilson was now “fired up about his team, he’s fired up about his coaching staff, he’s fired up about the season.”
That was liturgy right from the Book of First Carrollians: “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking, be put away from you.”
Then came this dandy, from, as we sports journos like to write, the Wilson camp.
A post by NFL writer Tyler Dunne on a Substack platform Go Long (h/t Bob Condotta, Seattle Times), citing anonymous sources, claimed that Wilson’s top reason for leaving was to be an NFL owner one day.
One source told Dunne that Wilson wants to “maximize the amount of billionaires in his rolodex,” because “Russell’s end game is Russell wants to be an owner for a team one day. He wants to own a team. He set that as a goal years ago.”
What in the name of nano-water does that have to do with potentially wanting to be traded from Seattle?
I understand, and agree with, Wilson’s earlier complaint that he’s spent way too much of his career in the armpit of Rams DT Aaron Donald. I also get that Wilson likes to plant the relay baton in the hand of an Olympic-level sprinter 20 meters from the finish line. And once in a while, Carroll should offer to trust him instead of punter Michael Dickson on fourth-and-two.
But getting traded away from one of the NFL’s most consistently successful teams because, 10 or so years from now, when he retires, he thinks it will help him buy an NFL team?
If true, Mr. Unlimited is getting a little too close to being Mr. Unhinged.
Again, this preposterous claim didn’t come directly from Wilson. But somewhere in his camp is a fourth-grader who giggles too much at flatulence.
Indeed, it’s true Wilson aspires to sports ownership. He already has a piece of the Seattle Sounders. He joined with hedge-fund billionaire Chris Hansen in a futile plan to bring the Sonics back to a new arena in Sodo. He has action in Portland’s decades-long pursuit of an MLB team.
The ambition is a fine hobby. But it has nothing to do with playing, or not playing, with the Seahawks. Jody Allen may or may not own the Seahawks by the time he retires, but I’m guessing someone from Seattle will, and might like as a partner the greatest QB in club history and an NFL Hall of Famer.
But the story implied that Wilson wanted to be traded to one of four specific teams because he wants to chop it up with their owners.
Really? Jerry Jones? Mark Davis? The Addams Family would have nothing to do with such bizarre people.
Maybe Wilson wants to take a meeting with Robert Kraft at his favorite day spa.
If Wilson wants to get a sense for an NFL owners meeting, I suggest streaming Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome.
But if that’s his future, more power to him. Someday. Not now.
Before he considers running a franchise, he needs to consider who in his circle thought pushing the ruse of future ownership was a good cover for acting out in his age-33 season. He might want to look at the circle again and make sure it’s not a zero.