Upon further review, Russell Carrington Wilson is a personal disappointment.
Without a doubt, there’s plenty of blame to go around for the last-place position in the AFC West where the Broncos find themselves. But as the saying goes, the one you love the most is the one who can hurt you the most.
I’ve been a HUGE Russell Wilson fan since the early 2010s when I used to watch him play quarterback at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison for my beloved University of Wisconsin Badgers.
He was a godsend who led the team to victory in the inaugural Big Ten Championship game in 2011. When he mentions where he finished college, he proudly proclaims being from “A whole bunch of Badgers.”
Last spring, it felt like Christmas had come early when I heard the news that one of my favorite football players was coming to Denver. My giddy reaction was not a surprise.
I knew that the premiere signal-caller would work his magic on the lackluster Broncos in the same way he helped revive Wisconsin’s football program. He’s the reason I got back into watching Broncos games after six straight seasons of remarkable ineptitude.
I was excited when my friends invited me to watch the season-opener on their big screen TV; I could not wait to root for Russ playing in Seattle, his old stomping grounds.
He looked calm, cool and collected during pregame warmups on the field, a demeanor he cultivated in the NFL with his success as a Super Bowl winning QB, 9-time pro-bowler, and winner of numerous other awards.
Russ stoically ignored the boos coming from angry Seahawks fans.
However, by the end of the game, I was confused about Number 3. Between the bad throws and getting sacked often, had we entered The Twilight Zone?
Russ had developed rust.
Knowing what he can do, I chalked up his errant play to having the yips in his much-lauded Broncos debut; Lord knows none of us are perfect.
True to my faith in him, Russ led the team to wins against Houston and San Francisco, although they were low-scoring, ugly affairs.
Then came four straight losses before The Broncos flew off to London and won yet another ugly game, this time against the equally hapless Jacksonville Jaguars.
But still, there was a glimmer of hope after London that the team was headed in a positive direction. They can pull off a winning season, right? Wrong!
After the mini-vacation known in the NFL as a bye week, the Broncos’ offense returned to losing winnable games.
I cannot watch Russ and the 3-and-7 Broncos struggle through another game.
As B.B. King used to sing, the thrill is gone.
Russ’s promises to work harder ain’t cuttin’ it anymore. He no longer plays with aplomb and I could see it in his eyes on my friend’s 55-inch screen.
He cannot pull off a victory with his patented scramble and launch the ball downfield like he’s done many times during his illustrious career.
My friend with the big screen TV says she feels his humiliation and his pain and that I should give the brotha another chance. My response: We don’t need Bill Clinton at this point in the schedule.
In a column I wrote back in August, I lamented how fans’ collective blood pressure will rise if Russell Wilson and rookie head coach Nathaniel Hackett don’t live up to the hype of a new beginning for the snake-bit Broncos.
And now, here we are.
While I will be eternally grateful to Russ for what he did at Wisconsin, I’m sad that he’s fallen off the pedestal in Denver.
My feelings are best expressed in the torch and twang of a Dolly Parton song:
“What a heartache. What a mistake. What a heartache you turned out to be.”
Jo Ann Allen is the creator and host of the podcast Been There Done That. She started her journalism career in 1975 at The Capital Times newspaper in Madison, WI. She spent 18 years as a news anchor at WNYC/New York Public Radio, and also worked as an anchor at KPBS Radio in San Diego, WHYY Radio in Philadelphia and Colorado Public Radio in Denver.
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