Just a few short days ago, we all learned of Tom Brady’s departure from the New England Patriots and his subsequent signing with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Even during this unprecedented time of constantly changing Coronavirus news, Brady’s exit from the Pats made the front page because of his long-standing place atop any list of “greatest” quarterbacks ever.
But there’s another reason too. For his entire career, Brady played for New England. That’s 19 years in one city. Playing at a very high level for one team. Bringing home multiple championships for one fanbase. It’s remarkable and rare and a run worthy of national attention.
Or it was, at least, until the Pats and Brady went their separate ways.
Now, the NFL world will have to adjust to seeing Brady on the Bucs. It’ll be a strange and sobering sight, for sure.
Before Brady left town, he had the longest-standing, single-team quarterback legacy in the NFL. In recent years we’ve seen Derek Jeter and Kobe Bryant (RIP) celebrated by their respective fanbases for, among many other feats, their singular dedication to one city, one fanbase, one franchise. But now that Brady has changed his stripes, currently favoring creamsicle ones, he’s lost that aspect of his Hall of Fame career’s accolades.
I have no overt love for Brady, but I deeply respect his career and accomplishments. I’ll even grant him the G.O.A.T. status, he deserves it. But leaving the Patriots has brought up some unexpected emotions… Not about Brady, no no, he’s fine. But about the sparkling jewel of football in the PNW, my man Russell Wilson.
Assuming the 2020 season happens, Wilson will enter his 9th season in the NFL having played quarterback exclusively for the Seattle Seahawks. But having spent not even half the time with the Hawks that Brady did with the Pats, I can’t help but imagine what Wilson playing for the Hawks another 10 years would look like.
What would a 41-year-old Wilson look like behind center? Different.
We can forget about his signature scrambles that create time, space, and eventual magic on the field. At 41, he’d be too slow to casually evade those young pass rushers giving chase. His deep ball probably wouldn’t be so effective down field. It’s hard to predict arm strength, but at 41, I just don’t know if he’d have enough left in the tank to make those monster throws.
However, his drive to win and football IQ would still be there (if not elevated to new heights), leading others to advance their own play, so maybe he wouldn’t have to do everything himself and a slate of teammates could carry more than expected en route to a championship.
On the other hand, what would it feel like if he left for another team? Awful.
The source of strength in the Seahawks fanbase is the deep attachment we’ve developed for “our” guys. We 12’s have been empowered and encouraged to affect contested games with the volume of our voices and to accept unconventional players with the size of our hearts. From loud-mouth Richard Sherman to “angry” Doug Baldwin and many others, the Hawks have shown a tendency to bring in the players they think are best, regardless of conventional thinking.
And the centerpiece of this mindset is Russell Wilson.
Drafted in the 3rd round, Wilson outplayed his competition to take the starting QB job and led the Seahawks to the playoffs. The league took notice, but the 12s took him in as our own. This was the leader we’d been looking for, someone who brought us hope for a win every week.
Next, we watched the team climb to the apex of the NFL and bring home the ultimate prize, the Lombardi Trophy. Even with a world-class running game and the infamous Legion of Boom supporting him, for fans like me, it was Wilson who signaled the future of the franchise. And so, we all bought in, all the way.
When the LoB was dismantled, it hurt, but we all saw the reasoning behind it. We have to keep Wilson and it won’t be cheap. Fine, spend the money and keep him here. He’s our guy. He’s corny, short, and the most insanely talented quarterback we could’ve ever asked to wear the Seahawks uniform.
Russell Wilson is our guy. That’s that.
In four years, when Wilson’s contract is up, he’ll certainly be looking for another one. Assuming his health is good and there aren’t any significant concerns, I hope the Hawks re-up and keep him here for several more years.
But if he gets to the point where Brady did. When the team and fans and seemingly everyone thinks it’s over, except Wilson himself. And he wants to move on to another team for a “last gasp” few years. I certainly won’t hold it against him. It would hurt to see him dressed in another uniform, but I can deal with that. We owe him that for what he’s done for us.
Wilson is a Seahawk because John Schneider and Pete Carroll saw not what he was, but what he could be. And he was everything they hoped and more.
When the day comes for Wilson to retire, I expect he’ll still be a Seattle Seahawk, joining both Jeter and Kobe as one-team icons of their sports. Deserving of all the special legacy honors that a cemented relationship with a fanbase brings. Endless love and respect for being “our” guy.