Gallant: Why Seahawks QB Russell Wilson’s mid-career crisis may be linked to Drew Brees

Mar 15, 2021, 4:29 PM

Seahawks Russell Wilson...

Russell Wilson has idolized Drew Brees, who announced his retirement on Sunday. (Getty)


It’s been over a week since an agent of Mark Rodgers’ bidding spilled tea on us about his client, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson. It’s been quite pleasant.

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Sure, any sports yapper likes myself loves free content to discuss, but this tiresome tea is the kind that makes me want to go full Boston and punt it into a harbor.

Russell Wilson is not getting traded in 2021. His dead cap hit, no-trade clause, and status as a top five quarterback in the NFL means the Seahawks need to be bullied into pulling the trigger, and he can’t force one unless he’s willing to sit out games. I’m skeptical he’d ever do that given his overuse of the word “legacy.”

Wilson had to know that going into his Festivus-esque offseason. And even with everything now on the table, I doubt he believes the Seahawks are going to abandon their process to do things his way. Which begs the question: Why is he doing this?

Part of me believes he’s doing damage control. After beating the “Wilson for MVP” drum last offseason – “Come on? No votes at all? What more do I have to do around here, huh? I’m just saying, can we get a few votes here or there? Why not?” – he banged out a Dave Grohl-esque solo on the field during the first third of the season.

Unfortunately, the Seahawks lost their drumsticks down the stretch for a variety of reasons. Injuries, offensive line struggles, dropped passes, an easily beaten scheme, and poor play by Wilson saw Seattle’s season end in the first round of the playoffs. The blame should be spread equally, but we’ve sure seen a lot of finger pointing at everything not named Russell from Wilson’s “court.”

There’s projecting here, too. We all saw Wilson’s glazed over expression during the Super Bowl. He saw Patrick Mahomes running for his life the majority of the game and probably thought of himself. And there’s also got to be some jealousy. He wants to be the greatest quarterback of all-time, but now has the tall order of six more Super Bowls to get a seat at the table with Tom Brady.

But maybe this month long passive aggressive outburst is about something else entirely. Which leads me to my latest theory: Wilson is in the midst of a mid-career crisis – a crisis made worse by Drew Brees’ retirement.

It’s clear that Brees was very important to Russ. Take these comments made by Wilson before the Seahawks–Saints game in 2019: “I think about his legacy, what he’s meant to the game. … He’s helped me to kind of help open up the door for me to play, as a shorter quarterback.”

In fact, per the recent bombshell report about the friction between Wilson and the Seahawks, Wilson considers Brees an “idol.”

“Growing up, Wilson’s idols were Derek Jeter and Drew Brees, an interesting contrast. Brees won only one Super Bowl in 20 seasons — and never won an MVP — but he overcame physical limitations to put up record-breaking stats. Jeter racked up World Series titles and clutch plays, his legacy defined by winning. A decade into his career, Wilson hasn’t won like Jeter, and he hasn’t put up numbers like Brees. Wilson and the people around him believe the Seahawks are partly responsible.

And Russ tweeted this about Brees after he announced his retirement Sunday.

Brees is one of the greatest quarterbacks in league history, at least statistically, but he’s not Tom Brady or Peyton Manning, who have a combined total of eight MVP awards, 14 Super Bowl appearances, and nine Super Bowl wins. Brees won his only Super Bowl over 10 years ago and looked to be the weak link on some stacked Saints teams over the past three or four seasons. And while the career stats he accumulated are quite impressive, they’ll eventually be surpassed due to stat inflation and the league adding more regular season games.

Brees won’t be remembered the same way as those two quarterbacks from his era. In fact, he probably won’t even be remembered the same way that Aaron Rodgers will.

I’m sure Russ – now 32 – realizes this about his idol. He’s got to be aware that he could walk through that same Super Bowl and award-less desert the rest of his career. He doesn’t want to find himself in the same conversation as Brees – a great but not quite all-time great quarterback. And perhaps that’s what all his passive-aggressive complaints are all about.

Follow Paul Gallant on Twitter.

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Gallant: Why Seahawks QB Russell Wilson’s mid-career crisis may be linked to Drew Brees