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Russell Wilson has acted like a franchise quarterback since signing with the Steelers

So, I was following some Twitter discussion on Sunday afternoon that had to do with Russell Wilson, the Steelers’ new starting quarterback, representing the team at so many functions since coming to Pittsburgh in March.

The latest occasion transpired on Saturday night when Wilson made an appearance during the Zac Brown portion of the Kenny Chesney concert at Acrisure Stadium. The veteran quarterback walked on stage and presented Brown with a No. 3 Steelers jersey. Wilson and Brown bro hugged before the former walked off stage to wild cheers and applause.

Since many fans are impossible to please, one “supporter”  on Twitter on Sunday said something like, “I hate that he’s already wearing the Steelers colors everywhere he goes.” (Btw, I’m going to paraphrase most of this discussion instead of linking Tweets since there were a lot of nasty things said over the course of several hours.) Someone else chimed in and said, “Yeah, I feel like he has to earn them stripes. It’s an honor to wear these colors.”

If you know me at all, then you know that last quote was like honey to a bee, and I said (this is 100 percent the Tweet), “An honor? It’s football, not the Marines.”

I then pumped my fist in the air because this fella gave me my latest article idea. In the meantime, I was expecting a spirited but respectful debate about Wilson representing the Steelers and their gear. Instead, I got called ugly. Anyway, I said some things. He said some things. The bottom line is this: I’m supposed to go see him about a rumble in the fall. We’ll see what happens, but I’ll probably pick up an extra shift at work that day.

Enough about that. Let’s talk about what an honor it is to wear Steelers gear. That notion–that sentiment–might seem corny to some, while inspirational to others. But if we’re going the inspirational route, Wilson has done nothing but comport himself in an honorable manner since becoming a Steeler back in the spring.

To quote the late, great Johnny Cash, Wilson has been everywhere, man.

Wilson attended PPG Paints Arena back in March to watch NC State, one of his alma maters, begin its journey to the Final Four. Wilson was at PNC Park to throw out the first pitch at a Pirates game soon after their 2024 campaign started. Wilson and his lovely wife, Ciara, were at PPG Paints Arena for a Penguins game late in their 2023/2024 season; in addition to rubbing elbows with Troy Polamalu and Brett “The Diesel” Keisel, Wilson took in the Pens game with Spencer Anderson, an offensive lineman picked in the seventh round of the 2023 NFL Draft.

Wilson has visited kids at Children’s Hospital at least once so far this offseason.

As per my mom via my sister, Wilson was on hand to speak to hundreds of underclassmen boys basketball players at a local function in March. Among the underclassmen was my nephew, a future college superstar who currently hoops at the high school level.

Wilson has looked the part in public, and he’s said all the right things during press conferences, from his introductory meeting with reporters in March to the ones at OTAs in May and June.

Wilson talks about the Steelers with honor. He speaks reverently about his teammates–including T.J. Watt, Cam Heyward and Minkah Fitzpatrick (I think he mentions them during every press conference, actually). Wilson speaks glowingly about head coach Mike Tomlin.

He already seems proud to be a Pittsburgh Steeler.

I know what you might say, everything I’ve just described is how most starting quarterbacks act and talk during the offseason–including Kenny Pickett a season ago. Remember when he showed up at the Luke Combs concert last year and shotgunned a beer with the country superstar? Remember when the two bro-hugged it out before Pickett walked off stage to wild cheers and applause?

The big difference between Wilson and most NFL quarterbacks–including Pickett–is he’s been there and done that. Wilson literally has been everywhere in a football sense. He’s been to two Super Bowls and won one of them. He’s been to the Pro Bowl nine times. He’s thrown for 43,653 yards during his career. He’s thrown 334 touchdowns to only 106 interceptions. He was the Walter Payton Man of the Year in 2020.

Wilson has accomplished just about everything one wants to accomplish as an NFL quarterback–both at a personal and team level.

Wilson is legit in every sense of the word when it comes to being the face of a franchise.

Therefore, for some rando Steelers fan on Twitter, a guy who doesn’t even live in Pittsburgh and has never played a down of professional football in his life, to suggest that Wilson needs to earn his stripes? That’s absurd.

Simply by representing them in public and being listed as No. 1 on their quarterback depth chart, Wilson makes the Steelers seem important again. Does this mean he’s going to lead Pittsburgh to a magical season? That’s impossible to say at this point.

Maybe he really is washed up as a player.

Perhaps Wilson isn’t as good of a teammate as he’s portrayed himself to be thus far. There were the rumblings of his diva tendencies when he was still in Seattle. Those rumbles grew louder when he was with the Broncos the past two years.

Then again, we heard the same things about Jerome Bettis when he first came to Pittsburgh in 1996. Turned out, Bettis was the ultimate teammate and the perfect Pittsburgh Steeler. Bettis’ head coach in St. Louis wasn’t the greatest, and Sean Payton, Wilson’s head coach in Denver last year, doesn’t exactly have a glowing reputation, either.

Finally, we have a few months to go before we begin to find out if Wilson is still the franchise quarterback his status says he is.

But Russell Wilson still does have the status of a franchise quarterback, and that earned him his Steelers stripes the moment he arrived in Pittsburgh.


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