It’s unfair for Russell Wilson to be labeled a villain in Broncos Country
Feb 8, 2023, 6:41 AM
I loved almost everything about Sean Payton’s opening press conference. It reenforced my belief all along that he was the best candidate for this job. I got a feeling I haven’t felt since Gary Kubiak walked out the door. The Broncos finally have themselves a coach.
Even better, I picked up on a real Mike Shanahan kind of vibe from Payton, which is even better since nobody around here has done it better than The Mastermind. I guess while I’m blowing kisses I should also mention I got a real Bill Parcells flashback to the days I covered the Tuna in New England, which makes a lot of sense considering Payton considers Parcells a mentor.
So it was all good. Almost.
Payton received a hero’s welcome. When you have a hero in your story, you need a villain. That villain was Russell Wilson.
Whether it was Payton saying, “Be careful of what you wish for,” or suggesting there would be no special privileges for players or personal coaches, everyone rejoiced at the idea that there is a new Sheriff in town. That dastardly Russell Wilson would no longer get away with his shenanigans.
Wilson was bad last year. He was a bad player and his forays into social media were cringeworthy. But he’s not a bad person. He works hard and he means well. I don’t believe he’s selfish. It’s just obvious he doesn’t always “get it.”
Yes, he was given special treatment that started back in Seattle. Blame part of that on Pete Carroll and the Seahawks. Just because a player asks for, or even demands, certain things, it doesn’t mean you have to grant them. So the Seahawks were guilty of enabling Russ to the point where he started believing he deserved special privileges.
Then came the trade to the Broncos. Again, a precedent had been set in Seattle, and the Broncos, in their desperation to land a franchise QB, willingly gave Russ the keys to the castle. “Here you go, Russ. What can we do for you, Russ? Everything good, Russ?”
I can’t totally blame Russ. Who amongst us would turn down all those perks if they were so willingly given to us? Especially if the expectation was he’d come in and play lights out?
We know what happened. It was a disaster. The good news is both sides realized the situation had to change. During the final weeks of the season, Russ’ people weren’t as visible. 9News’ Mike Klis told Mark Schlereth and I that that was suggested to Wilson. He didn’t fight it. He didn’t throw a tantrum. He didn’t go full Kyrie Irving and demand a trade. He knew his play had stunk and that whatever special perks he had felt he earned, he had squandered them away.
He followed that up by praising Sean Payton at the end of the season. He reached out to Payton during the interview process. The NFL world is an insulated enough fraternity that I’m confident Wilson knew what kind of coach Payton is, and what he would and would not allow. That tells you that Wilson is fine with Payton’s coaching style and not only would he not fight Payton’s rules, he’d honestly welcome the chance to be coached hard.
Sean Payton may indeed turn out to be the hero Broncos Country has been pining for. Just remember, Russell Wilson isn’t the villain standing in his way.