Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson stated, "Separation is in the preparation."
When the Seattle Seahawks beat the Denver Broncos into submission on Super Bowl Sunday by a margin of 43-8 it sent a strong statement around the league. The Seahawks quarterback, while small in stature, played bigger than his competitor Peyton Manning.
While Manning played spectacular during the regular season, once again he came up short when it mattered most. In the playoffs he sports a career record of 11-12 all-time. Manning now is 1-2 in Super Bowls. He's also lost eight times in the first round of the playoffs.
Manning was the runaway MVP of the NFL this past season. He was lauded for his preparation and passing but was outperformed by someone who, not only did his homework, but stayed after class to do it. Manning simply looked unsettled and was overtaken by the gravity of the moment.
Wilson is largely the antithesis of Manning. Wilson stands five feet, 10 inches. He's 25-years young. Wilson just completed his second season as a starting quarterback in the NFL. Including the playoffs, Wilson has a 28-9 record. His skill set is diverse because he can make plays with his legs as well as his strong arm.
After each whistle blows on offense you don't have to look far to find Manning because he will be in the pocket. The 16-year veteran stands six feet, five inches. He's not very fleet of foot with limited athletic ability. Manning gets rid of the ball quickly as he scours defenses to find an open receiver to cover up for his limited mobility.
When Wilson walked off the field yesterday evening he was a Super Bowl champion. He also has as many rings as Manning in just his second season.
Wilson also became the second African-American to lead a team to Super Bowl. The first was Doug Williams in 1988. Unlike Wilson, Williams was named Super Bowl MVP.
Speaking of MVP, in my opinion Wilson should be going to Disney World instead of Malcolm Smith. Based on the game I saw I firmly believe Wilson was the best quarterback and player on the field. One could plausibly argue Percy Harvin as a close second.
Wilson completed 18-24 passes for 206 yards and two touchdowns. He converted key passes down the field and made several plays with his legs to extend key drives. The second-year player showed the poise of a veteran in leading his team to the promised with his arm and legs.
I believe Wilson was snubbed by voters. Snubbing Wilson is a way of the NFL attempting to diminish what's manifesting before our eyes. Handing him the award would have been further admission there's a changing of the guard taking place at the quarterback position and how it will be played in the future.
For decades it was embraced in NFL front offices a quarterback with Wilson's skill set and complexion would never win a Super Bowl. The gold standard is to build franchises around tall white quarterbacks who live in the pocket who will also serve as the face of the franchise.
Historically African-American quarterbacks have been slighted for their athletic prowess. Negative stereotypes were utilized to justify not giving them genuine opportunities to thrive.
When I saw Wilson performing last night I thought of 1993 Heisman Trophy winner Charlie Ward. Ward was snubbed by the NFL. He went undrafted despite leading his team to a National Championship. Ward and Wilson have very similar skill sets. Like Wilson, Ward was slighted because of his height and his arm strength was questioned by NFL scouts.
Wilson faced similar scrutiny coming out of college. He fell to the third round of the 2012 NFL Draft, but with head coach Pete Carroll having an open mind he took a chance on Wilson that many would not.
Carroll boldly handed the keys over to Wilson to let him drive the team because he didn't see color: He saw a quarterback in Wilson who gave them the best chance to win despite what some others may have thought.
For all change that ultimately manifests, no matter the domain, it must go through a process where others will be denied before "the one" finally emerges. When "the one" arrives it slams the door shut on negative stereotypes and antiquated methods of evaluating talent by opening the doors for others to succeed.
While I have a lot of respect for the Peyton Mannings, Tom Bradys and Drew Brees of the world the time has officially arrived that will force teams to evaluate the quarterback position differently moving forward.
Now that Wilson did what Colin Kaepernick was not able to do in last year's Super Bowl, hopefully we can put to rest that versatile African-American quarterbacks cannot win the big game.
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