Seahawk Fans Worried About Russell Wilson Contract? FIVE LETTERS FOR YOU!


This is the 40-Something Files!

A weekly take on the state of Seattle Sports through the lens of a guy whose four decades of fandom has earned too many scars, and seen too few celebrations.

What say you? Russell Wilson wants to be the highest paid player in NFL history?

This is the latest speculation-as-fact thrown into the ether, set into perpetual misdirection by the lazy local talking heads desperate to bridge the conversation gap between listener disinterest in the M’s, and the start of NFL training camp.  And, it’s a notion that can only be properly responded to with a resounding, “No Sh*t Sherlock!”

True or not, it’s not hard to justify this possibility. Russell Wilson has re-written numerous records in his brief, three-year tenure in the league, while probably taking in the least pay (relatively) of any franchise QB in NFL history. Why wouldn’t he at least ask to now become the highest paid?

As this non-revelation traveled the troll circuit of the sports media landscape, it morphed into finger pointing at a greedy RW3 and/or a stingy Seahawks front office, the basis for a poll taken Friday morning on 710 ESPN’s Brock and Salk show:

How do you view the current state of the Wilson contract negotiations?

A) Wilson is being greedy

B) Seahawks are being stingy

When I realized the irresponsible, fear mongering manipulation, being glibly put forth by the show’s host, Mike Salk (sans Brock that day for reasons unclear), I did not shut it off right then and there, as I would typically, my only true form of protest. This time, I stuck around for the entire three-hour joke of a show as it unfolded. You see……….

Four weeks ago, most Seattle sports fans will likely recall, Mark Rodgers, Wilson’s baseball agent (GASP!) in charge of negotiating his football contract, appeared with Brock and Salk on their show. Without belittling the audience or falling for (albeit half-hearted) hotbox tactics of the interviewers, Rodgers laid bare the game plan for getting his client a new contract with the Hawks. It was honest, practical, and above all, DOABLE, if you just follow the logic.

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Encouraged, and somewhat validated for having written weeks earlier that “it’s the salary cap, stupid” that is the true driver of the Russell Wilson contract bus, I wrote a follow up piece breaking down the interview itself, and cautioning fans not to fall for the inevitable, ratings driven, word-twisting, analysis to come.

Ironically, that piece titled, “Russell Wilson’s Agent Lays Waste To Media Driven Contract Fears” was received none-too-kindly by a media member at the heart of the interview, the very same Mike Salk delivering that ridiculously conceived poll. Here’s the first of his tweets directed at me, that immediately followed that post going live:

Without getting too far off topic, let me first say, not that he doesn’t have a right to respond to me any way he likes (just as all of you reading this do), but here is this guy with a platform for reaching millions of people with his opinion, perhaps the most powerful local sports radio voice targeting Seattle’s fans, and yet he feels compelled to defend himself to me (perhaps the least powerful voice targeting Seattle’s fans?) Secondly, his response didn’t stop there.  In rapid succession of tweets that could only be categorized as an over-kill response to my assessment of the show’s immediate attempt to stir fans’ emotions, he went on to defend his show’s tact on the subject, as if deep down inside, some cognitive dissonance lurked about:

Tweet 1: “You hear what you want. We talked about reasons for optimism and pessimism.”

Tweet 2: “It’s cool to love a team and want everything to be roses. Sometimes they are. We present our honest opinion every time.”

Tweet 3: “We don’t just take surface value of anything. Never have. We use it, along with our background knowledge and opinion.”

Tweet 4: “That creates an informed opinion. We aim for informed opinions. Not positive or negative or fear based. Informed opinion.

Tweet 5: “But to suggest that the only way to hear that interview was as positive is borderline irresponsible. Text response was split.”

Tweet 6: “Hence, half the people heard what you heard and half believed the agent was prepping for a fight. We presented both sides.”

Tweet 7: “And if you think the show is dumbed down, you’re nuts. To dumb it down would be to not even discuss contracts.”

NOTE: to get the full back and forth (I did get a tweet or two out, so did some others, in reply to Salk’s stream of consciousness), check out his timeline’s “tweets and replies” from May 28th, 2015. Or tweet me for screenshots.

My wife and I sat in my office in stunned amazement as my phone and computer echoed each other’s incoming tweet notifications, in sync’d, rhythmic succession, for more than a minute straight. The fact that this guy was taking so much time and effort to defend himself to anyone, let alone me, felt… well… awkward.

Other than having a laugh with my Facebook friends, about the fact that I got called-out (?) on twitter by a pseudo celebrity, I haven’t made much effort to publicize that banter with the 710 ESPN host and program director.

But (and to loop this back around to the manufactured Russell Wilson contract hype), when I tuned into 710 ESPN last Friday morning, Mike Salk’s voice loud and clear over the airwaves, the guy completely contradicted his aforementioned, holier-than-thou twitter rant, as if today’s headline driven rumors render past evidence, or current situational parameters, non-existent.

With news being that “sources close to the situation” have come to the “shocking” conclusion that Russell suddenly wants to be the highest paid player in NFL history, and also considering that the two sides are as “sources close to the situation” say, “nowhere near close to getting a new contract in place” nearly his entire three-hour show Friday morning was devoted to the “RW greedy vs. Hawks stingy” poll.

I’m sorry, but was this the “not positive or negative or fear based, informed opinion” portion of the show? A poll question wrapped in a blanket of pure manipulation?

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So, now, does Mike Salk, after twitter ranting all over my timeline last month, in defense of his fair and balanced take-aways from his masterpiece, the exclusive “Mark Rodgers interview”, still stand firm that his show is not “dumbed down?” This is the DUMBEST poll ever constructed in the history of sports radio!  OK, that’s not true, but it is a typical, DUMB sports talk move.

Salk often mentions on air his days as a master debater… ahem… If it’s true, he must understand the complete lack of “logic” in this poll. Simply put, there’s little room for logic when one fear mongers for ratings.

Allow me to logically explain. Both of the choices intentionally mask the same anger inducing conclusion, that Russell Wilson and the Seahawks are at odds. If the Seahawks are being stingy, then they’ve turned RW down. If Wilson is being greedy, not only does he in fact want to be the highest paid player in the NFL (though, have we heard him say that on the record to anyone ever?), it means that the Seahawks have turned him down.

Those are not choices in response to a poll, those are mechanisms designed to push a fan base already on edge, right off the cliff. It’s good for RATINGS!

For those willing to consider that the sports media we count on for information actually make their living off keeping fan bases on drama’s edge, not to mention how easy (lazy) the approach, please indulge me these additional, more plausible responses, that would have taken the conversation from airtime filler, to an actual meaningful debate.

C) The Salary Cap structure actually makes it better for BOTH parties to wait until 2016 to do a deal. The Seahawks have RW under contract for around $1.5 million in 2015, and can therefore use more of the cap to lock up others eligible for new deals, like Bobby Wagner, or perhaps a free agent O-lineman, TBD.  Meanwhile, RW has protected himself with an insurance policy against a career-altering injury in the coming year.  If all goes well, and he has another Wilson-esque season, he’s in line for an even bigger deal in 2016, both by way of added resume, and the natural increase in total salary cap that organically occurs year over year.

D) Wilson, as he’s stated numerous times in the past, is leaving the negotiation entirely up to his agent. Russell, an unapologetic man of faith, believes that god has a plan for him. Isn’t it possible that leaving the business portion of the deal in the hands of the business team, aligns with his faith in god’s plan? Theologically speaking, why wouldn’t it?

E) Wilson is NOT GREEDY. Asking to be the highest paid is something other than greedy.  Asking to be the highest paid and not performing your contractually obligated duties in the process, is greedy. In other words, Wilson has assured the fans he’s not going to hold out. That’s not him. He has, true to his word,  fulfilled his obligations to the team throughout the process of the media painting negotiations as contentious.  He’s even held his own “camp,” bringing his teammates together for a week long bonding and work out trip – ON HIS OWN TIME AND OF HIS OWN DOING.

F) Wilson’s agent isn’t looking for a deal. Rodgers is quoted as saying, “sometimes the best deal is the one you don’t do.” This could be due to two facts: 1) Wilson is already under contract and there is no “due date” for a new deal when you already have one. 2) If all goes well, as stated above, there WILL be more money for his client, AND the supporting cast, for a deal done against the 2016 cap vs. the 2015 cap. 3) Aside from any insurance policy, RW makes plenty of money in endorsements.  The argument I keep hearing from supposedly “senior” sports media weasels that RW is giving up money that he could get today, doesn’t fly. The most money ever made by an NFL player landing in the bank over the course of 3, 4, or 5 years doesn’t change the fact that it’s eventually, in your account. But what about injury? Again, two words: Insurance policy.

G) It’s a complex negotiation. It takes time. Name one other time in the history of the current collectively bargained salary-cap structure that a 3rd round draft pick QB has developed into one of the greatest players of all time before completing his rookie deal?  This is new ground for the NFL, let alone the Seahawks or Russell, or Russell’s baseball agent… New ground is complex. New ground takes time. 

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If I was among the poll question answering listeners last Friday, and the poll was less about a lazy walk through three hours of radio, and more about genuinely gauging the fan’s thoughts on the “contract” negotiation that may or may not be in full swing, including the more likely options laid out above, I would have been among those choosing option “G.”

However, it’s no wonder the actual poll was so limited in scope. The same Mike Salk that twitter lectured me on the “informed opinions” of his daily radio production, freely admitted to his listeners on Friday that he doesn’t bother with trying to understand the Salary Cap and how that plays into the Russell Wilson contract discussion. I’ve got news for Mr. Salk, if you don’t understand the salary cap implications of NFL contract negotiations, your opinions on the matter are NOT informed.  Debate over.

Last week and into this weekend, in effort to comprehend just what the heck is going wrong in the marriage between QB and front office of a most beloved NFL team from Seattle, and as panic and anger and misguided finger-pointing displays across twitter feeds, and Facebook posts… while “long time listener, first time caller” calls ring into sports radio broadcasts throughout the northwest, and as trusted local sports media types fan the flames set ablaze by the national sports media trolls, I can think of only one way to snap the 12’s out of their misinformed funk.

Though, as a Seahawks fan, I loath to credit an overly self-assured Green Bay QB for anything, Aaron Rodgers‘uncanny ability to spell (and count for that matter) must be reiterated immediately, and simultaneously embraced.

Seahawk fans, PLEASE heed that cheesehead’s mantra and just… “R-E-L-A-X.”

Relax people. Russell is going to be the man in this town for contracts to come. You’re not Darrell Bevell calling a play from the one, with the Superbowl on the line. It’s going to be OK if you don’t feed the beast.

Get it?  Feed the (sports media) beast? What… Still too soon for Bevell play-calling jokes? OK. I promise not to go there again until Wilson’s under contract through 2020…

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