Seattle Seahawks’ quarterback Russell Wilson showed up on many people’s radars in the summer of 2011 when he transferred to Wisconsin, immediately turning the team into a national title contender. He was elected team captain and lead Wisconsin to the Rose Bowl, setting the school’s single season touchdown record in the process. He was drafted by the Seahawks the following Spring in the third round. Even with his college track record, the pick was an afterthought as the team signed Matt Flynn to a big contract. Yet Wilson impressed at training camp, and coach Pete Carroll made a big decision by naming him the starting quarterback before week 1 of the season.
Wilson hasn’t looked back. Always a steady performer (the world “poise” has been thrown around over and over again), he stepped his game up to a new level in the last three weeks beginning with a road, overtime win against the Chicago Bears, followed by two 50 point outbursts against the Cardinals and the Bills.
The NFL “Rookie of the Year” battle was a two horse race between Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III for much of the season. After all, they were the top 2 picks in the draft, their production forever linked. But quietly, steadily, Wilson put himself in the conversation. And while Luck is signed to Nike and RGIII is the face of Adidas football, Wilson told his unique story his own way, through Levi’s:
The Levi’s commercial simultaneously brands Wilson as an everyman but different. His relationship with his father, combined with the community aspect shows him as a relatable athlete. On the other hand, his amateur baseball background and his math major sets him on a new path.
Perhaps Wilson will always be overshadowed by Luck and RGIII. But it’s fitting – he’s free to find his own voice, left somewhat alone, in the Pacific Northwest.