The adoration of Russell Wilson


Seattle's love affair with Wilson, which began almost by accident, has intensified with every victory over the past two seasons. Wilson is 27-9 as starter (including playoffs), tying Ben Roethlisberger for most wins by a quarterback in his first two seasons in the Super Bowl era. It's hard to imagine what level it will reach if he leads them to a win against the Broncos. Seahawks fans already hang on his every word, even though he rarely says anything even remotely controversial. They obsess over his clothes, his haircut, his Twitter account, his favorite food and favorite places to eat.

There are other Seahawks players -- like Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas and Marshawn Lynch -- who are just as responsible for the team's success, but none of them have captivated the fan base the way Wilson has. Seattle Magazine recently joked that if Wilson ran for mayor, he'd win the election on write-in votes alone. "Men and women want to have him over for a cookout. Kids want him to be their dad. Dogs want to fetch his cleats," the magazine quipped.

For a few Seahawks fans, the quasi-deification of the quarterback has almost reached uncomfortable levels. Wilson has been very outspoken about his Christian faith, and a few eyebrows have been raised over his apparent friendship with controversial Seattle pastor Mark Driscoll of the Mars Hill megachurch. Driscoll, among other contentious opinions, recently tweeted his belief that all non-Christians are going to hell.

"I'm a pretty cynical media observer, and with he and Sherman, there have almost been these pro wrestling style narratives created around them," says Seahawks fan Chris Hong. "Russell Wilson is the face, and Richard Sherman is the heel, and every story spins out from those two places. I think Russell Wilson is fine, but I find it very problematic that he hangs out with guys like Mark Driscoll. That just skeeves me out. It's a little too far to the evangelical right than I, as a liberal Seattleite, feel comfortable with. I think people are so happy about the Seahawks they're choosing to pretend he's not hanging out with the Mars Hill folks."

But Hong knows his opinion is a minority one. Even Seattle-born celebrities from outside the realm of sports have started holding him up as a symbol of pride, a worthy ambassador who embodies the best qualities of their hometown.

"Wilson's the total package," says actor Chris Pratt, a Seattle native who is one of the stars on the NBC sitcom "Parks and Recreation." "He's an absolute playmaker, but he's humble. He's at the top of his class in a whole new generation of exciting, multidimensional QBs that can kill you in the air or on the ground, and on top of that he's a good person. Instead of Instagramming pictures of his shoe collection, he's visiting kids at Seattle Children's Hospital. He's got all the best leadership traits but doesn't define himself by any of them. He can be religious without going full Tebow. He's multidimensional and flashy without kissing his biceps. I hope he stays healthy long enough to get the giant payday he deserves. I hope he remains a Seahawk for his entire career. I'm just proud as hell that Russell Wilson is my quarterback."

Grammy-winning rap artist Macklemore, a Seattle native and devoted Seahawks fan, even started visiting sick kids at Seattle Children this year after Wilson befriended him and encouraged him to tag along on his weekly Tuesday visits.

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