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.

That’s unfair.

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.


Drop the Mike

Jared Bednar...

Mike Evans

Do back-to-back wins mean the Avs have escaped the doldrums?

An 8-2 loss to the Blues still stings, but wins over the Kraken and Ducks show that the Avalanche know how to respond to adversity

3 months ago

Jamal Murray of the Denver Nuggets...

Mike Evans

Championship swagger, a costly gamble and Nuggets nuggets

The Nuggets have come out of the gates looking like a team on a mission, Jamal Murray's injury is costly in more ways than one, and more

4 months ago

Russell Wilson...

Mike Evans

The Broncos can’t move forward with Russell Wilson after this season

When experts watch the Broncos game film, they come to the conclusion that Denver's quarterback isn't doing the things he needs to do

4 months ago

Caleb Williams Broncos QB...

Mike Evans

Explaining why the Broncos should go all in on tanking this season

While it might seem like a path for those with a loser's mentality, being bad now is the fastest way to be really good in the future

4 months ago

Artturi Lehkonen #62, Ryan Johansen #12, Jonathan Drouin #27 and Cale Makar #8...

Mike Evans

Hungry Avs ready to reclaim Cup after last season’s disappointment

After getting bounced in the first round a season ago, the Avalanche made some roster tweaks they hope will get them back to title form

5 months ago

Davante Adams, Denver...

Mike Evans

Broncos facing a must-win in season opener against the Raiders

In his debut as the Broncos head coach, Sean Payton knows the importance of getting off to a good start and building some momentum

6 months ago

It’s unfair for Russell Wilson to be labeled a villain in Broncos Country