Russell Wilson Responds to Seahawks' Smear Campaign on ESPN – Sports Illustrated

When it comes to his decade with the Seattle Seahawks, Russell Wilson says, "I gave it my all." 
Wilson's remarks on Thursday contrast starkly with Seattle's preemptive PR smear campaign, through local assets in the media beat, to get out in front of the negative press that is likely to explode in the wake of the 11th-year quarterback leading the Denver Broncos to a resounding victory on Monday Night Football. The Broncos are 6.5-point road favorites after all.  
The article from ESPN's Brady Henderson dropped on Wednesday and has been the talk of the Mile High City since it was published. Multiple Seattle front office sources fed Henderson a glut of negative comments about Wilson, interspersed with a new revelation or two about previous attempts to trade him before eventually succeeding with the Broncos. 
One of those revelations? That Seattle tried to trade Wilson to the Cleveland Browns in 2018 in exchange for the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL draft. Then-Cleveland GM John Dorsey passed on Wilson, eventually taking Baker Mayfield with the first pick. 
Henderson's takedown piece of Wilson was rife with those Seattle front-office comments, like, "He's not as mobile as he used to be," and, "I just felt like he's a descending player." 
The Seahawks told ESPN of their front-office belief that in the recent past, Wilson had been more focused on taking home the NFL MVP award than winning football games. Obviously, such an assertion contradicts Wilson's public persona of being "obsessed" with winning.  
The article features much pettiness and absolutely reeks of sour grapes. On Thursday, in the sweltering heat of Dove Valley, Wilson was asked about the Seahawks' aggressive push to smear him ahead of their Week 1 throwdown at Lumen Field. 
“I don’t worry about all that stuff,’’ Wilson said. "People have opinions and thoughts and ideas. Everybody has their own right to think what they want to think. I know how the whole thing went and how it transpired and just the whole situation. But also at the same time, too, I know that every second of it I’ve enjoyed in terms of being there and trying to give it my all every day.’’
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Wilson's new head coach Nathaniel Hackett is intent on avoiding the same mistakes the Seahawks made. Hackett plans to #LetRussCook instead of stacking the offensive deck against him, and forcing him to create off-script in order to move the needle and score points. This whole offense is co-authored by Wilson and is centered around him. 
These are alien notions to Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll, or so it would seem. Carroll reportedly resisted the idea of trading Wilson for a long time, but eventually got on board with Seattle GM John Schneider's push. 
Wilson confirmed at least one aspect of the ESPN smear piece. He was aware of Seattle's previous attempts to trade him, as Henderson reports, though Wilson refutes the notion that he, or anyone in his camp, was "upset" about it. 
“Definitely, they tried to, a couple different times, to try and see what was out there,’’ Wilson said. “It’s part of the business and it’s part of being a professional and everything else. ‘Upset’ is probably the wrong word. I believe in my talent and who I am. I believe I’m one of the best in the world. I don’t worry about anything else other than that. I think at the same time, too, my focus has always been on winning.’’
The wisdom of smearing Wilson ahead of his 'revenge' game is questionable. The amount of material now nailed to the Broncos' bulletin board is copious, and it's not like Wilson has ever been lacking in motivation. 
It's likely fuel to the fire. And it has all the makings of a bomb set to blow up in Seattle's face. 
As for the Broncos, this team isn't looking its gift horse in the mouth. Coach Hackett is happy that Seattle's blundering loss is Denver's gain. 
"I just know what I see out here on the practice field, and he looks awesome," Hackett said in response to the ESPN article. "[I'm] excited to have him here." 
Combined with national writers like NBC Sports' Peter King picking the Broncos to miss the playoffs, the ESPN takedown piece, I suppose, is just par for the course. Let 'em hate. 
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Chad Jensen is the Founder of Mile High Huddle and creator of the wildly popular Mile High Huddle Podcast. Chad has been on the Denver Broncos beat since 2012 and co-hosts the Mile High Huddle Show on 98.1 FM in Denver. 

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