Were the boos directed at Russell Wilson a sign of things to come in his return to Seattle?

I don’t know what was the most moving story of Sue Bird’s final home game of the regular season Sunday.

Maybe it was the Climate Pledge Arena, a record 18,100 fans who showered her with affection. Maybe it was the video tributes from basketball legends like Lauren Jackson, LeBron James, and Geno Auriemma. Perhaps it was Bird’s emotional speech in which he reflected the gratitude of his fans.

It could have been any of those. I’m not sure. But I’m pretty sure which was the juiciest story.

Among those offering video tributes Sunday was former Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, the signal caller behind the franchise’s lone Super Bowl victory. However, the fans in attendance weren’t thinking about that championship as much when he appeared on the JumboTron, but rather booed him while he was on screen.

Wilson, as you know, no longer a Seahawk. He forced himself out of Seattle in March to join the Broncos in a monster trade and has seemingly gone from eminent to enemy in the Emerald City. I mean… booing a champion who might be the best player in Seahawks history? Mocking the man known for your contributions to the communityparticularly his weekly appearances at Seattle Children’s Hospital?

Hey, there’s no trial here. Fans can cheer or scold anyone they see fit. But Sunday was eye-opening, and it makes me think people here might be just as interested in the Broncos losing this year as they are in the Seahawks winning.

There is a practical element to this, of course. Seattle acquired Denver’s first-round draft pick for next season in a trade, meaning the worse the Broncos finish, the better the Seahawks will select. Given the low expectations for the Seahawks this season (Vegas Insider has over/under wins at 5.5), it makes sense that the 12 would want to look to the future. But don’t think that schadenfreude isn’t in play here too. Many fans think Wilson betrayed them and want to see him fail.

Some might say, “Well, what about Ken Griffey Jr.? He made it clear that he no longer wanted to stay in Seattle before the Mariners traded him to the Reds, and he’s a demigod in this town!” True, but that’s a little different. Griffey grew up in Cincinnati. His father played 10 full seasons in Cincinnati, where he won two World Series and made three All-Star teams. Griffey Jr. was a transformative player who could have saved the Mariners from relocating and was looking to return to his old home in Ohio.

However, Wilson never had that kind of connection with Denver. And his ever-cheerful disposition about Seattle was in stark contrast to the man reportedly telling Seahawks management that I had no intention of going back to the team despite having two hugely lucrative years left on his contract.

No, his departure is not like Alex Rodriguez leaves Seattle for the Rangers after five full seasons. It’s nothing like the first time LeBron James left Cleveland. Wilson, though perhaps a minor character at the time, helped give this city a Super Bowl and will almost certainly one day be inducted into the organization’s ring of honor. But that doesn’t mean fans around here don’t feel slighted by a quarterback still in his prime.

Maybe I’m exaggerating the momentary reaction of a Storm game. A series of boos during a video tribute doesn’t mean Wilson wouldn’t be mobbed by half of Bellevue Square if he took a walk through the mall. He is a titan of this city, probably one of the faces of Seattle sports’ Mount Rushmore. But last offseason, at 33, he left here in peace.

It’s interesting how fans prioritize loyalty above almost everything else. Richard Sherman, for example, earned a reputation as an insubordinate diva who lashed out at teammates and coaches before he was arrested last summer on robbery and domestic violence charges. But when he appeared last June at a charity basketball game in Seattle, fans cheered as if he was only minutes away from “The Tip.” Sherman did what he could to remain a Seahawk: The Chiefs simply wouldn’t match the 49ers’ offer at that point.

I can’t rack Wilson’s brain, but I imagine he was pretty upset about Sunday’s heckling on Climate Pledge. Dedicated as he is to craftsmanship, he seems equally committed to cultivating an airtight public image. You can try to gauge how the city feels about him based on social media posts and news commentary, but boos from a Seattle pro sports crowd at a WNBA game? That might be the most revealing evidence yet.

Seahawks fans will be rooting for their team as passionately as they always have this season, but they will likely root just as strongly against the Broncos. Wilson’s teammates could have plenty of catches when Denver arrives at Lumen Field in September, but Russell’s catch since the 12? Don’t expect too much heat.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.