By Adriel “The Natural”
It’s time for Russell Wilson to be universally recognized as the best young quarterback in the game.
Now this piece has been a long time coming for yours truly. I will never forget, one day maybe six years ago, I was watching SportsCenter. There was a piece on this college football player who overcame the unfortunate passing of his father and went on to be one of the best players in college football. His name, of course, was Russell Wilson.
I’m sure we’ve all heard plenty of stories like this where professional athletes use real-life tragedies to inspire them to do great things. This particular story, however, struck me because the story aligned with something very similar that happened to me in my life.
I lost my younger brother when I was just 19 years old. He was 15 at the time and his death hit my entire family pretty hard. We were never the same after that. I was never the same after that. Before his death, I believed my life couldn’t be better. I had a family who loved and supported me, along with some great friends as well and a girlfriend who loved me completely. But anyone, a professional football player, a doctor, a celebrity, you, or me can have that taken away in an instant.
On the evening of July 18, 1998, my father told me that he got a call and we needed to go to the hospital. “Something happened to your brother,” he told me. Even though I knew something was wrong, I couldn’t bring myself to accept the worst case scenario until I actually saw for myself, that he was gone.
I tell this story because on that day my mentality began to change. I realized that there will always be obstacles in life no matter how great things may seem today. And then when I sat and watched the piece on Russell Wilson as he reminisced about his relationship with his father and how it affected him, it really touched me. Russell talked about how he became mentally stronger and how he no longer wanted to fit in. Instead, he wanted to be a leader because once you’ve gone through such ultimate sadness and disappointment there is nothing in this life that you cannot overcome.
The piece did a fantastic job of highlighting Wilson’s only year at the University of Wisconsin where he stepped onto the practice field as a transfer from North Carolina State and immediately commanded everyone’s respect. He talked about how his confidence came from his never-ending desire to prepare and how his mental preparation was just as important as how he prepared physically. Those attributes reminded me of mental giants in sports such as Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant and Tom Brady. The way he spoke reminded me of countless interviews I’ve heard where these guys expressed the same views in the same exact way . It’s no coincidence that Russell Wilson even referred to Michael Jordan as being his favorite athlete. Being a Jordan fan is hardly exclusive to Russell Wilson, but he had the talent to seek his own athletic greatness because he was that good. I immediately became a fan.
Watching the University of Wisconsin that year, I was impressed by how the game seemed so easy to him. The football was always out on time and always on the mark. That’s when I knew this kid was special. That year Wilson finished with 33 touchdown passes and just four interceptions. No, that was not a typo. He threw four interceptions.
Going into the 2012 draft, all the buzz was about Andrew Luck and RG3 going #1 and #2 respectively. All I heard about Wilson was that he was too short to play the position. At the time, I never paid attention to how tall he was because all I saw was a great quarterback who can do it all. Fortunately for the Seattle Seahawks, their General Manager John Schneider saw him the same way. The Seattle Seahawks drafted him in the 3rd round and he would go on to not regret that decision.
Russell Wilson is a Super Bowl Champion and all he’s done is continue to get better and better. It began his rookie season when he beat out Matt Flynn to become the starting quarterback for the Seahawks. Wilson has continually embarrassed his naysayers by going about his business and earning enormous amounts of respect amongst his peers. Four years later and he still has his naysayers saying the same things.
“He’s just a game manager.”
“He’s nothing without that defense.”
“He will be nothing without Marshawn Lynch. “
Now we sit four games into the 2016 season and the Seattle Seahawks are 3-1 after their bye week. The Seahawks still have plenty of competition especially defensively as the Broncos are still one of the teams to beat thanks to their all-time great defense. However, Russell Wilson’s young quarterback peers of Andrew Luck and Cam Newton are struggling mightily as both their teams have started out with a combined three wins.
As we look toward potential Super Bowl match ups, the two favorites out of the AFC are the Broncos and the Patriots. Brady is back from suspension and everyone assumes he will run through the league as if he’s just playing against air with no resistance. While I belive Brady will do what we’ve come to expect, I don’t think he’ll be any match for that Denver Bronco pass defense. Brady’s lack of mobility will be his undoing come playoff time once he goes up against the Broncos pass rush. just like it was last season in the AFC Championship Game.
That brings us back to Russell Wilson. Coming off his best statistical season a year ago where he completed 68.1% of his passes for 4024 yards, 34 touchdown passes and just 8 interceptions, Wilson is poised to do the unthinkable and become the first quarterback to solve this historic Denver Broncos defense. As the unquestioned leader of the Seattle offense and with Marshawn Lynch no longer around, Wilson is now free to spread his wings and show the world that he is truly the best young quarterback in the NFL.
The Seattle Seahawks are the only team capable of solving the Denver Broncos on the biggest stage. After prevailing through so much adversity and after continuously being overlooked, Wilson has gained the mental and physical power needed to get the job done. With his smarts and his other worldly athleticism, Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks are just beginning to hit their stride. See you in the Super Bowl.
Adriel “The Natural” is a contributing writer for YourSitch.com