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Report: They Gave Russell Wilson A Big-Boy Office

INGLEWOOD, CALIFORNIA - DECEMBER 25: Russell Wilson #3 of the Denver Broncos looks on before the game against the Los Angeles Rams at SoFi Stadium on December 25, 2022 in Inglewood, California.
Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

The Athletic has a juicy report out today, featuring all sorts of details about Russell Wilson's strange and disastrous first season in Denver. The story lays out how Wilson got to Denver in the first place—he asked the Seahawks to fire head coach Pete Carroll and GM John Schneider, and the team responded by trading him—before getting into how things went wrong for the 5-12 Broncos. (Wilson, through his lawyer, denied to The Athletic that he ever asked for Carroll and Schneider to be fired.) The overriding theme: Nobody seemed to know who was supposed to be calling the shots.

According to The Athletic, Wilson arrived in Denver with his own personal support staff and quarterback coach, former BYU QB Jake Heaps, and throughout the season took an active role in designing plays, compiling scouting reports, and running film sessions. The result was the Broncos attempting to run an offense that was a mixture of Wilson's concepts, which he had brought with him from Seattle, and first-year head coach Nathaniel Hackett's concepts, which he had brought from Green Bay. This led to a lot of confusion and sloppy execution. As former Broncos running back Melvin Gordon put it to The Athletic, "It was a bit much."

If there's one thing that truly stands out as odd about Wilson's position on the team, it's the fact that the Broncos gave him his own damn office above the locker room:

The Broncos gave Wilson an office at the team facility, a rare perk (Wilson did not have an office in Seattle and Heaps had only limited access to the Seahawks’ facility). Several Broncos veterans said they didn’t mind Wilson having his own office, especially because the quarterback spent so much time at the facility.

“He’s got a whiteboard, the sides of the wall, and it’s just littered with (motivational) quotes and new play concepts,” receiver Kendall Hinton said. “It was crazy to see his mind thrown out on the (wall).”

[...]

But from the outside, the existence of the office worked against Wilson when his on-field play failed to measure up. And the location of the office — on the facility’s second floor, where Broncos coaches and executives also worked — created an unusual team dynamic.

“The players were always on the first floor; they never really came up to the second floor,” one coach said. “If you came up to the second floor as a player, it honestly wasn’t a good thing because you were probably getting released.”

One offensive player said Wilson told teammates he had an “open-door policy” with his office, which to another coach seemed problematic. “So, are you a coach or are you a player?” the coach asked. “Your open door should be you sitting at your locker.”

The Athletic

Perhaps the most telling part of that excerpt is the fact that Wilson had motivational quotes splashed all over his office. It rhymes with anecdotes from elsewhere in the story, about how Wilson was sometimes slow to relay play calls because he was first giving little motivational speeches in the huddle, and about how Wilson hired a new publicist before the end of his terrible season. All of these things draw into focus an image of a guy who is extremely committed to his own bit. Yes, he acts and talks like the world's most image-conscious self-help guru every time a camera is near him, but everything we've ever learned about him suggests that the act never really stops, even when the cameras are gone. Russell Wilson really is like that, all the time.

The Athletic story says that Wilson was forced to give up his special office before the final two weeks of the season. I guess he'll have to find a new totally off-putting way to interact with his teammates next season.

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