Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson is on top of the world after leading his team to a Superbowl XLVIII victory against the Denver Broncos this past Sunday. While he may not have dazzled or dominated the way people wanted him to, he ultimately did what he was supposed to do, which was win and he did it on the biggest stage. Then you have the even more special part of this victory and that special part is the fact that Wilson made history by becoming the second African-American quarterback to win a Super Bowl.
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Now some may not think that this is a “big deal” but you must realize that Wilson is the first African-American quarterback to win a Super Bowl since Doug Williams led the Washington Redskins to victory in Super XXII. Due to this major accomplishment, Wilson has become a historic icon in NFL History and African-American history. He didn’t only add to history, he also broke down more stereotypes of African-American quarterbacks and stereotypes of his so-called lack of height and ability and yet somehow despite all of his accomplishments, Wilson still doesn’t seem to receive enough respect.
I don’t know about you but it seems he has never received enough respect. In high school, he was very underrated, which is hard to believe considering his junior and senior year at Collegiate High School in Richmond, Virginia. As a junior, he threw for 3,287 yards and 40 touchdowns, while rushing for 634 yards and 15 touchdowns. He was even named an all-district, all-region, and all-state player. Then as a senior he even better, throwing for 3,009 yards, 34 touchdowns, and seven interceptions, while rushing for 1,132 yards and 18 touchdowns. Then later on his senior year, he would be featured in Sports Illustrated magazine for his performance in the state championship game win. However, despite his great play, he was still ranked a two-star recruit by Scout.com and Yahoo! Rivals.
Nonetheless, Wilson kept persevering and developing his game, earning football scholarships from Duke University and North Carolina State before deciding to commit to North Carolina State.
It was during his time at North Carolina State that he made a name for himself. In the 2008 at the PapaJohns.com Bowl against Rutgers, Wilson threw for 186 yards and a touchdown while rushing for 46 yards before halftime. He unfortunately couldn’t finish the game because he suffered a knee sprain. However, due to his impressive performance throughout the season, the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) named him the first-team All-ACC quarterback, which was the first time in the conference’s history that a freshman quarterback was named to the first team.
Wilson wouldn’t stop there, in 2009, he broke Andre Woodson’s all-time NCAA record of 325 consecutive pass attempts without an interception against Gardner-Webb. Then in 2010 he led the ACC in passing yards per game (274.1) and total offensive yards per game (307.5), all while leading North Carolina State to a 9–4 season and a win over West Virginia in the 2010 Champs Sports Bowl.
However, what many people don’t know is that while Wilson was excelling on the field, he excelling even more in the class room as he graduated in from North Carolina State in three years with a bachelor of arts degree in communication.
Wilson would later finish his one year of eligibility at the University of Wisconsin and it was at Wisconsin that he became an even bigger name, as he threw for 3,175 yards and 33 touchdowns while rushing 338 yards and six touchdowns as a senior. He also led the Wisconsin Badgers to the 2012 Rose Bowl, they unfortunately suffered a tough lost to the Oregon Ducks but it didn’t stop both the coaches and media from naming him first team All-Big Ten and giving him the Griese-Brees Big Ten Quarterback of the Year award.
While many people would think that type of consistent play would put Wilson at the top of the 2012 NFL Draft board, scouts and analysts still projected that he would be a middle-round pick, due to his lack of height at 5-foot-11. Now there were some teams that were willing to look beyond his “lack of height” but others weren’t. However, it would be the Seattle Seahawks who would be the true victors and select Wilson in the third round of the draft with 75th overall pick.
Since joining the Seahawks in 2012, he has been a true sensation, beating out Matt Flynn and Tarvaris Jackson for the starting quarterback position as rookie. He finished the regular season with a total of 3,118 yards and 26 touchdowns, tying Peyton Manning’s record for most touchdowns thrown by a rookie. Then you add that with the fact that he led the Seahawks to the postseason in his rookie year and was selected as an alternate for the 2013 Pro Bowl, and you have no choice but to give him credit but as always, people would continue to doubt him.
Well you can stop doubting him, because in only his second year of the NFL, Wilson has led his team to Super Bowl XLVIII, where they defeated the Denver Broncos, with a final score of 43-8. Once again, making him the second African-American quarterback to win a Super Bowl. Now if that’s not news worthy, I don’t know what is. I’m not trying to make this about race, I’m simply saying we need to give respect and credit to this historic moment of African-American excellence. I’m not saying Wilson is the best quarterback in the NFL but he is a talented dual threat quarterback who has excelled at every level and persevered through almost every obstacle and he deserves more respect for it.
The scary thing about Wilson is the fact that he is so young. As I mentioned above, Wilson is only in his second year and he has already led his team to a Superbowl victory. At 25 years old, there is no reason to think that Wilson can’t accomplish more and in all honesty, I encourage him to stay hungry for success and continue developing his game and honing his skills. I don’t know about you but I think this Seattle Seahawk team has the potential to be right back in the playoffs next year and there is no doubt in my mind that Wilson has the potential and ability to lead them to another Superbowl.
By now, I understand that there will always be people who doubt him because fans, scouts and analysts have doubted him for years but he hasn’t let that stop him and he doesn’t plan to let anyone stop him now. If you don’t believe me, just read what he had to say in his post-game press conference at Super Bowl XLVIII.
“It doesn’t matter what you look like. It doesn’t matter if you’re black or white, Latino or Asian. It doesn’t matter if you’re 5-11. It’s the heart that you have.”
I must say after watching him from high school to college and now to the pros, there is no doubt that Wilson has heart to go along with his great talent and leadership. So I encourage Wilson to celebrate this great Super Bowl victory and all of his great accomplishments up to his point and I encourage analysts, fans and scouts to give him the respect he deserves because he has earned it.
Written by LBeasley (Lauren Beasley), Sports Contributor for Radio One Detroit