Wilson the Celeb setting bar for Wilson the QB

We won’t know for several months whether or not Russell Wilson is everything that rabid Broncos fans think he is: National Football League Most Valuable Player . . . Super Bowl LVII champion . . . the best thing since Peyton Manning.

But one thing we can say now is that he’s definitely playing the celebrity game extremely well.

The Broncos traded for him just two months ago, and already he has:

Visited young fans at Children’s Hospital;

Appeared on the Jumbotron at a Nuggets game and on the court with mascot Rocky;

Thrown out the first pitch at a Rockies game; 

Announced that he and his wife, R&B singer Ciara, will open The House of LR&C fashion store in Denver in mid-July; and

From his seat in the stands, led the crowd in generating “Playoff Noise” at the opener of the Avs’ second-round series with St. Louis.

He and Ciara have bought a $25 million mansion in Cherry Hills Village—the most expensive single-family residence ever in Denver, according to the Denver Business Journal. It has 20,060 square feet of living space, including an indoor swimming pool, basketball court, game room, theater, and12 bathrooms, plus a nine-car garage, on five acres.

And they are the proud owners of a new puppy, named—what else?—Bronco.

I’m sure this is an incomplete list, but you get the idea. He’s EVERYWHERE and IN THE NEWS all the time.

We still have two months before Broncos Summer Camp—open to the public—commences. But Wilson has wasted no time establishing himself as a team leader, too.

In addition to his community involvement, he has started the bonding process with his new teammates. And he’s among the earliest risers at Broncos HQ most days.

So far, the only way it could have gone any better is if he had also eradicated Covid, fixed the supply chain, and eliminated inflation. But, hey, he’s the quarterback, not President of the United States.

As QB, Russell will be expected to do the football equivalent of solving those daunting challenges. 

The journey will begin in familiar territory, for him. No, not at Empower Field in Denver. Rather, at Lumen Field (formerly Seahawks Stadium, then Qwest Field, then Century Link Field) in Seattle, where he started 78 games for the Seahawks between 2012 and 2021.

Wilson won 57 of those 78 starts in Seattle while leading the Seahawks. That’s 73%, which hopefully means he’ll feel right at home as a first-time visitor.

The emotions that Monday night, September 12, will be epic.

Seattle fans will welcome Wilson but won’t go so far as to hope he beats their Seahawks. Wilson will no doubt recall his many special moments and triumphs in front of those fans and acknowledge some sense of nostalgia, but will do everything he can to send them home sad.

Up in the TV booth, Joe Buck and Troy Aikman will be dealing with their own mixed feelings as they call their first regular-season game  on ESPN after 20 years as the lead twosome on Fox.

After his Denver debut against Houston the next week, Wilson will face the 49ers, who beat the Super Bowl champion Rams twice in the 2021 regular season. Though, he did beat San Francisco both times he played the 49ers last season, 30-23 and 28-21, completing 46 of 60 passes for 380 yards and four touchdowns.

By the time the Broncos travel to London to play Jacksonville in Week 8, Wilson will have taken on the Raiders in Las Vegas; the Indianapolis Colts and their new quarterback, Matt Ryan, in a Thursday night game, four days later; the Los Angeles Chargers in L.A. on Monday night to end the next week; and a home game against the Jets.

Those first seven games will tell us if Wilson the quarterback is the equal (or better) of his pre-season PR.

The bye week follows London, but then the Broncos are on the road three of the next four weeks—at Tennessee, Carolina and Baltimore—with the lone home game against the Raiders.

And the final four games are home-and-home with Kansas City, Arizona at home and the Rams in Los Angeles Christmas night.

I’ve seen predictions of 12 victories. If that proves correct, Russell Wilson really will be the second coming of Peyton. 

Ten sounds more realistic to me, with this schedule.

Denny Dressman is a veteran of 43 years in the newspaper business, including 25 at the Rocky Mountain News, where he began as executive sports editor. He is the author of 14 books, eight of them sports-related. You can write to Denny at dennydressman@comcast.net.