The Wilson Effect: ‘Why Not You?’

Russell Wilson doesn’t fit the profile.

But, then again, he never really has. And that’s never stopped him from proving people wrong either.

Wilson, a 5-foot-11 NFL quarterback, played the part of David when he was compared to future NFL Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning (6-foot-6) when “experts” broke down the matchup between the Seattle Seahawks and the Denver Broncos prior to Super Bowl XLVIII on Feb. 2, 2014 at Met Life Stadium.

While “Goliath” couldn’t seem to do anything right against the Seahawks, Wilson was steady, just made plays he was asked to make and he left the game with the Seahawks leading 43-8.

Third-round draft picks aren’t supposed to quarterback their team to an NFL title, much less in their second season. Especially 5-foot-11 quarterbacks.

Wilson isn’t your average young man. He doesn’t have your average-sized heart. He also doesn’t listen to doubters.

How, with so many people seemingly against you, can you overcome and do what he did up to this point in his career? He kept remembering what his late father told him repeatedly when he was growing up.

Wilson shared what Harry Wilson, his dad, told him constantly with reporters after winning the Super Bowl.

“He used to always tell me, ‘Russ, why not you?’ And what that meant was believe in yourself, believe in the talent God has given you even though you are 5-foot-11, and you can go a long ways,” Wilson said. “That’s why I decided to play football, and I wanted to go against the odds a little bit.”

He blocked out the negative noise that seemed to follow him since he was a young man growing up in Richmond, Va.

He heard it when he was in high school. He heard it when he was at N.C. State and Wisconsin. He heard it when he chose to pursue the NFL instead of Major League Baseball.

My daughter Haleigh with Russell Wilson during his NC State days.

The good news? He never listened to that noise and focused on the simple words his dad engrained in his mind. It has to be somebody, why not you?

“Harry planted a dream in Russell’s mind,” Ben Wilson, Harry’s brother, told the Washington Post. “And now we’re all watching it come to fruition.”

Because Wilson’s dad knew his son would be questioned about his height, talent, skillset; Harry pounded a positive message that he was good enough into his son’s mind at any early age.

Russell Wilson grew up hearing his father talk to him constantly about being great at whatever he was doing. He told him if you are average, you are as close to the top as the bottom, so why not be great?

When the Baltimore Orioles drafted Wilson out of high school to play second base, they offered him a $1 million contract. Russell thought about it and listened to his father again.

Harry, the son of educators, wanted Russell to go to college, play football and baseball and graduate! He told him pro sports could wait for him to finish school. Harry, who died on June 9, 2010 at age 55 from complications caused by adult-onset diabetes, told his son that GREATER opportunities – way bigger than a million-dollar bonus – could be possible down the road. Russell learned about delayed gratification from his father.

He played for three seasons at N.C. State, but still had the baseball bug. He told the football coaches he would not be at spring practice. The Wolfpack coaches didn’t like this, and both parties decided to part ways.

Wilson had earned his degree in three years, and was free to transfer and play immediately. He landed at Wisconsin, played baseball for the Class A Asheville Tourists, but quit baseball after hitting .228 with three home runs and 15 stolen bases. He repaid most of his signing bonus and focused on football.

He won a Big Ten title and played in the Rose Bowl with the Badgers, but people still doubted he could play quarterback in the NFL.

“I decided: What do I want to do with the rest of my life?” Wilson told the Washington Post. “I had this passion, I had this fire to play the game of football. And I knew that I could do it.”

Wilson went to the 2012 NFL Scouting Combine where most scouts labeled him a risk because of his 5-foot-11 frame. It didn’t help that Stanford’s Andrew Luck, Baylor’s Robert Griffin III and Texas A&M’s Ryan Tannehill were quarterbacks available in that draft. He’s also the first quarterback of the 2012 draft class to win a Super Bowl.

The 75th pick in the third round of the 2012 NFL draft, Super Bowl champ and a 28-9 record as a starter in a league most thought he couldn’t play in? Not a bad two-year run!

“So many people told me I couldn’t, and to be here now proves that to all the kids that you can,” Wilson said the week of the Super Bowl. “You can do whatever you want to do.”

When you think of what a Super Bowl champion quarterback looks like, are you thinking of names like Brady, Manning, Favre, Aikman, Roethlisberger, Montana, Elway, Bradshaw and Namath?

You can add Russell Wilson to that list. He’s a Super Bowl winner because he was brave enough to believe he could do it. He’s a Super Bowl champ because his father told him it could happen if he wanted it bad enough.

There’s way more to Russell Wilson than athletics. He’s going to be remembered more for the charity work he does in Seattle and beyond. He will be remembered as a man far more than he will for games he wins or loses.

His goal is to leave a legacy that was passed down from his father and from his father’s father. One day, Russell will pass it on to his children too.

It will likely involve words like this: “Why not you?”

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