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Rookie of the Year Would Boost Russell Wilson’s Marketability

(Tomas Ovalle/AP Images for NFLPA)

“With the 75th pick in the 2012 NFL draft the Seattle Seahawks have selected Russell Wilson, quarterback from Wisconsin.”

That was the sound from New York City musical hall during last season’s NFL draft as the Seattle Seahawks took Russell Wilson with the 12th pick in the third round.

For a team in Seattle that had just signed free agent quarterback Matt Flynn to a $10 million guaranteed contract it seemed more likely that Russell Wilson would be holding a clipboard than guiding the Seahawks into the divisional round of the playoffs.

ESPN analysts were very intrigued by the prospect of Wilson and Jon Gruden was so high on him that he felt that he would win the job if given a fair chance to beat out Matt Flynn and Tarvaris Jackson in training camp.

Gruden could not have been more correct. After a competitive training camp and pre-season Russell Wilson earned the starting quarterback job and successfully led the Seahawks to a 12-6 season that culminated in nearly taking his team to the NFC Championship game.

Standing at a height of 5’10,” Russell Wilson is one of the shortest quarterbacks to start in professional football. He refuses to be defined by his height and uses his skill set to define who he is as an athlete. In a game where the prototypical quarterback stands at least 6’0″ tall, Russell Wilson is uncommon and his Levi’s Jeans commercial best characterizes his personality and marketability.

Nationally, Wilson is developing into a more popular and prominent athlete. Prior to the start of this season his status paled in comparison to that of Robert Griffin III or Andrew Luck among the rookie quarterback class. However, as the season progressed and the Seahawks’ offense surged it was Wilson’s electric play and leadership that led the team down the stretch and it’s hot steak into the playoffs. He finished the season with the rookie record, overtaking Peyton Manning, for most passing touchdowns and is a finalist for the AP Rookie of the Year award. As a regular season award, many of the Seattle faithful fan base conceded that Wilson doesn’t stand much of a chance at winning it. According to Seattle’s most eligible bachelor, Matt Swett (follow on Twitter @mwswett)  there’s no way that he wins since the voting took place before the playoffs. He concedes that winning the ROY in seasons past would do great things for his marketability, but before the collective bargaining agreement it would have driven up his potential contract demands and hurt the team’s chances of retaining him long-term.

Russell Wilson’s tag line after most post-game interviews whether it was the big comeback victory against the Bears at Soldier field or after last Sunday’s loss to the Falcons is “Go Hawks!” Wilson prides himself as being a leader in the locker room and appears very comfortable being the face of the franchise. When you factor that Marshawn “BeastMode” Lynch doesn’t do interviews and refuses to speak to the press, it’s Russell Wilson who is now the voice of the franchise and future face of it. Listening to his press conferences he sounds like a cliche machine at times but it’s evident he sincerely means what he communicates.

Seattle businessman and University of Washington alumnus, Tyler Bergan cites Russell Wilson’s “separation by preparation” creed. This mentality means that if he puts in the preparation time he will separate himself from the pack. His preparation is meticulous and attention to detail even greater. To be named captain at the University of Wisconsin within 2 months of joining the team his senior year and to become the starting quarterback of the Seahawks within a few months is indicative of his work ethic and dogged determination.

Wilson’s marketability certainly will increase  next season, but it won’t be from Rookie of the Year. Rather his marketability will ascend from his leadership and growing legacy as one of the elite young quarterbacks in the game of the football. Seattle Real Estate Manager and Social Party Planner, Henry Shim (@Hshim) sums it up best, “He’s the Drew Brees of this generation of the quarterbacks.” He’ll go down as a prolific quarterback, who changed the league’s view of the physical characteristics of a quarterback. Truth be told, Russell Wilson has an unusually long wing-span for someone of 5’10” stature with extraordinarily large hands. These physical attributes help him get the football out and above a massive offensive line, increases his throwing angles and tightens his grip of the football especially when wet.

Russell Wilson’s marketability will certainly increase regardless of any Rookie of the Year accolades. He certainly will have many more endorsements coming his way in the offseason. I can only imagine that Gatorade, Nike and Oberto! (beef jerky)  will be among those possible endorsement deals coming his way.  Russell Wilson’s (@DangeRussWilson) marketability will not ultimately be impacted by whether he brings home a rookie of the year award or other hardware aside from the real prize, the Lombardi trophy. Rather his marketability, especially for fans nationwide, will be measured by his success on the gridiron for seasons to come. Seattle fans love a winner, as does everyone else.  He’s already the toast of the town, much like Robert Griffin III is in the nation’s capital. It’s only a matter of time before Russell Wilson #3 jerseys start selling like RGIII’s.

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