I learned that Russell Wilson had been traded because the editor of this publication texted to ask if I could "write 500-600 words on Russ leaving."
It was like being asked to write an obituary for a beloved aunt who you understood to be very much alive. And because I'm a person whose emotional well-being is heavily linked to what happens on Sundays between September and January, this indeed felt like somebody had died. That empty, numb, this-can't-be-happening sort of feeling. Yes, I realize that this reaction is both pathetic and possibly even immoral in this time of war and disease.
Russell Wilson, to be clear, is not dead. He's just a Denver Bronco. But it's OK to grieve.
This was a shock. None of this was supposed to happen. The people in charge of the Seahawks said it wasn't going to happen. Smart media people said it wouldn't happen. The guys on my Seahawks text chain (we call it "SeaTalks," and it's composed of men with equally misaligned priorities) said it wouldn't happen. Russell Wilson himself said it wouldn't happen.
But then it did happen, and Seattle sent Wilson to Denver. In return, the Seahawks received draft picks, a good tight end, a very good defensive lineman and a quarterback who is not good at all. What happened? Well, Russ was looking to get out of Seattle far more than he let on. And Seattle leadership, whose recent strategy has focused on trading draft picks for magic beans and disappointing defensive backs, saw a deal they couldn't refuse.
There are many fans who think the trade makes good business sense. Those people have no soul, or perhaps have a healthy and pragmatic relationship with sports. I can't tell which.
Wilson leaving Seattle is a seismic event because over the past decade his cultural impact has outsized that of his team. On any given day, at any given Washington elementary school, you'll find at least one kid wearing a Wilson jersey. The guy spent his days off visiting sick kids. He bought a share of the Sounders. He banked enough goodwill that people could ignore his painfully cornball personality, uneven evangelism and investment in a brain-saving miracle tonic containing "nanobubbles."
At the same time, he did things on a football field that we'd rarely seen. The guy has thrown more touchdowns than Joe Montana. He engineered countless comebacks. And he brought home a Super Bowl win. Losing someone who brought that sort of joy hurts.
And now, after reassuring us that everything is fine and maybe he and Pete Carroll would try some therapy, he went out for milk and is never coming back. And we're left wondering if maybe it's somehow our fault.
Almost improbably, the grief got worse just a day later when the organization released future Hall of Fame linebacker Bobby Wagner, a guy who is currently right near the top of his game. It didn't help that Wagner apparently learned of his release through word of mouth or Twitter or a true crime podcast or something and not through official team communication.
In the span of less than 24 hours, an era of Seahawks football came to an abrupt end after slowly heading that direction for a couple years. It was time for the anger stage of this grief journey, and you'd be forgiven if you hoped the Broncos suffer too many "Russ held it too long" moments and lose every goddamned game before you fell into the depression phase and wondered what the hell is going to happen this offseason.
Maybe we'll get to the hope stage sometime soon. Process this at your own pace. ♦