Beaten and bloodied from their four-game losing streak, the Broncos’ flight to London presented players the perfect opportunity to reset their minds and bodies, catching some much-needed shuteye ahead of their game Sunday versus Jacksonville. Unfortunately for his sleep-deprived teammates, Russell Wilson had other ideas, going to dramatic lengths to rehab his injured hamstring, spending four of his eight hours in the sky stretching and working out.
This kind of unnecessary spectacle, no doubt infuriating teammates who wanted nothing more than a restful flight, is precisely why Wilson is so detested among fans and media who resent the quarterback’s need to be seen and heard from at all times, apparently even 30,000 feet in the air. Wilson’s awkward catchphrases (“Mr. Unlimited” and “Let’s Ride!” among his most cringeworthy) and hard-to-watch Subway promos (his signature “Dangerwich” sounds legitimately nauseating) would be easier to tolerate if he was playing even remotely competent football. However, that hasn’t been the case with Wilson, recent recipient of a mammoth, five-year, $245-million extension, looking as washed as the clothes in his laundry hamper, currently holding a lower quarterback rating than both Carson Wentz and Davis Mills.
Former Seahawks Richard Sherman and Doug Baldwin have gone out of their way to mock Wilson amid his struggles, framing him as a selfish malcontent more concerned with brand identity than being a collaborative teammate and leader. But more than that, the squeaky-clean, choirboy Wilson has adopted as his public persona comes off as scripted and disingenuous, annoying fans with his thirst for approval. Even the news that Wilson wouldn’t be playing against the Jets in Week 7 was drenched in PR spin, exaggerating the extent of his injury (convenient given his recent performance) while presenting the 33-year-old as a battle-tested hero sacrificing himself in the name of winning.
Ironically, as Wilson’s career and public image have plummeted, his replacement, forgotten journeyman Geno Smith, has been sensational for the Seahawks (miraculously atop the NFC West), playing by far the best football of his 10-year NFL career. Wilson, for better or worse, should be under center Sunday at Wembley Field, with Broncos/Jaguars streaming exclusively on ESPN+.
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