by Stefen Lovelace – thegrio.com
Yesterday kicked off the start of the week-long hype machine that is the annual Super Bowl.
Thousands of media outlets from all over the world have descended on Jersey City, New Jersey, sticking microphones in front of Denver Bronco and Seattle Seahawks players, hoping for different story angles and the perfect soundbyte.
Richard Sherman made everyone’s job easy last week. His comments opened up debate about race, sportsmanship, and expected athlete humility. Everyone covered it. No seriously, everyone. There was hope that Sherman would continue to provide quotes that would sell newspapers and drive page clicks.
Apparently it didn’t happen. Which means it was time for Plan B.
Peyton Manning is playing for his Second Super Bowl victory, and in the minds of some, his football legacy. With the year, and overall career, Manning has had, it’s a great story. And a story we’ll be hearing about all week.
The story I’m more interested in though is around the game’s other quarterback. Russell Wilson’s story is amazing in his own right, but it’s currently being overshadowed thanks to the Sherman and Manning angles.
At just 25, and in his second full year, Wilson is already a two-time Pro Bowler. He’ll be just the sixth quarterback ever to start a Super Bowl in his second year.
Manning is one of the best ever, but it’s not outlandish to say that Wilson may be in that same discussion when his career is over. He already has the most wins (24) of any quarterback in his first two years. His best comparison is Tom Brady, who is also in the discussion of best quarterback ever. He may represent what the future of the quarterback looks like, with the ability to pass and improvise with his feet.
Off the field, he’s the model athlete we all want. He is charitable, and spends most of his time either with his wife, or with someone in need.
He has always played with a chip on his shoulder. When he was drafted, everyone was wondering who would be the superstar between Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III. Wilson fell to the third round, and wasn’t even supposed to see the field until he impressed the Seattle coaching staff by routinelyoutplaying his highly paid competition.
He’s had his skeptics. The reason he fell so low in the draft is because most teams aren’t pining for a quarterback who can barely see over the offensive line. He’s proven everyone wrong, and done so in the most quiet of fashions.
The Super Bowl is being positioned as the best offense against the best defense. With the strengths of both teams potentially battling to a draw, it’ll depend on what happens on the other side of the ball, and what Wilson and the Seattle offense are able to do that could end up determining Sunday’s winner.
If Wilson leads Seattle to victory, he could be the game’s next big star. Marketers would love a well-spoken, charming, young quarterback to represent their brand. One game could be Wilson’s ticket to superstardom.
But you won’t hear him talk about that. There’s a good chance you won’t hear anyone talk about it. Manning will draw the headlines, Sherman will draw the columns, and Wilson will continue to fly under the radar.
Compared to other storylines, Wilson’s story may not be the biggest public draw. But if he plays well on Sunday, Wilson’s story may be the only one left worth hearing.