The comparisons between Doug Williams and Russell Wilson began before Super Bowl XLVIII and ended with the Hawks’ 43-8 trouncing of Peyton Manning’s Denver Broncos. The W gave the Seattle Seahawks their first Super Bowl title in team history.
Wilson, just the second black QB to win a Super Bowl, is a symbol of perseverance and a supreme basher of the biases that helped to make each QB’s championship journey become recognized as a sense of overall accomplishment – and social progress for African-Americans.
Williams faced the outdated prejudices that kept black QBs from being drafted or even getting a shot at starting in the NFL. Wilson’s height was used as the reason why he “wouldn’t” or “couldn’t” succeed as a QB.
The doubt and disrespect only fueled these QBs to extraordinary heights. This season, Wilson's chip-on-his-shoulder demeanor seeped into his underdog team of plenty undrafted players and they formed like Voltron with him at the head and played every down re-living the advice that Wilson’s deceased father gave him years ago.
“Yeah, he used to always tell me, ‘Rus, why not you?’ Why not you man? You can be a Super Bowl -winning quarterback," Wilson said in a post game interview. "And what that meant was believe in yourself, believe in the talent God has given you even though you are 5-foot-11, and you can go a long ways. That’s why I decided to play football, and I wanted to go against the odds a little bit. My dad encouraged me and my mom encouraged me. Everybody around me encouraged me.”
When certain media pundits and fans thought Denver’s offense would prevail and Manning would be the QB stud of the evening, Wilson and his Seattle teammates just used it as fuel for the fire. They made beating the odds their M.O.
“It’s a true, true blessing. God is so good. We believed we would get here… We had the talent,” Wilson said at the postgame press conference. “We had the coaching staff. We have the best fans in the National Football League. We wanted to win it all, and we just said go 1-0. That was our mentality throughout the whole (season). We continued to fight. We continued to grow together. We have great teammates, and I couldn’t have done it without the guys.”
Ironically, both Williams and Wilson took underdog teams and lifted them to emphatic victories over the Denver Broncos. Williams out-dueled HOF QB and current Broncos head honcho John Elway in Super Bowl XXII with a legendary 340 yards and four-TD performance. After trailing 10–0 at the end of the first quarter, the Redskins scored 42 unanswered points, including a record-breaking 35 points in the second quarter and set a slew of offensive Super Bowl records. He also became the first player in Super Bowl history to pass for four touchdowns in a single quarter, and four in a half.
That’s pretty much where the similarities end. Williams is a classic pocket passer who lusted for the down field bomb. As he displayed on Sunday, Wilson plays within a team structure, requiring him to throw less but use his magician skills, knack for the improbable and rifle arm to get the Seahawks out of jams. Wilson managed the offense to perfection and as usual relied on a hellacious defense to provide solid field position, cause turnovers and keep the Denver offense in a helpless pit of failed execution.
Wilson had over 200 yards passing and two TDs. At times, his game resembled the legendary “Mr. Smooth” Joe Montana’s. Montana was the unquestioned leader of those Dynasty 49ers teams of the 80s and early 90s, but he wasn’t the only show in town. Those San Francisco teams were led by “The Genius” Bill Walsh and loaded on both sides of the ball. Similarly, Pete Carroll’s No. 1-ranked defense and the 49-degree weather at MetLife stadium rendered Manning’s Mile High pass attack useless.
Wilson, the diminutive field general did his part by dictating the tempo of the game, staying poised, mistake-free and whenever necessary coming up colossal by making throws with a surgeon’s finesse and a sniper’s accuracy.
The weeks leading up to the Super Bowl is always a circus. The media’s job is to suck players into saying or doing something that can be an evergreen narrative for the week. Richard Sherman and Marshawn Lynch both took the bait. Wilson refused, remaining the calm, focused presence. He’s to Seattle what John “Hannibal” Smith was to The A-Team. Plans come together when he asserts his presence and puts the finishing touches on them.
Those blinded by meaningless stats will still question Wilson’s ability to air it out in a shootout. It’s not his fault he’s part of a balanced squad which delegates responsibility among a crop of special talents. Manning set a record for Super Bowl completions, but it meant nothing. DeMaryius Thomas’ record 13 catches weren’t worth much more than the cost of one of those bootleg “I Love New York” shirts they sell in Times Square. The 36-0 lead Seattle took was historical and blinding. Manning and Co. were playing catch-up from its first offensive snap of the game which sailed over Manning’s head for a quick safety and early omen.
Games like these can get out of hand quickly. The Seahawks started off snow-balling and eventually morphed into an avalanche right on the heads on John Elway and HC John Fox. It had to be a taste of nightmarish de ja' vu for Elway who ends up on the losing end of black history once again. We might have to give Elway a Nobel Peace Prize or Civil Rights commendation. First Williams disses him in the Super Bowl and then Wilson snatches Elway’s third Lombardi trophy (won two as a QB with Denver) from his hands. When Elway won the Peyton Manning sweepstakes the two legends decided to team up and put Denver Broncos football back on top. While they’ve certainly constructed an impressive offensive juggernaut, the tandem has come up short of their Super Bowl aspirations and the window is closing.
On the other hand, RW is in his second-year, is 28-9 as a starter and just 25 years old. Seattle has an average player age of about 26 year-old and is the booming-baby of all NFL squads. Not since the Supersonics (now OKC Thunder) in 1979 has Seattle won a professional championship. The “Russell Wilson Era” has begun. Seattle is already tied with Denver as early favorites to win next year’s Super Bowl, at 5-1 odds.
This Super Bowl victory is just the rough vocals to the musical masterpiece Wilson's creating. Now that he has muzzled the naysayers, further suppressed bias opinion about black quarterbacks, legitimized the spread option QB as a viable option under center and squashed prejudices about NFL quarterbacks standing less than 6-feet –he can just ball out and play football. Let's not forget, he has revived the soul glow curls that were featured in Eddie Murphy's Classic comedy "Coming To America."
Wilson has a rare opportunity to spend his entire career with an organization that is on the upswing and loaded with talent. Those wide receivers that people tried to sh*t on will be even better and that defense is going to be a problem for years to come.
Doug Williams' Super Bowl victory was the pinnacle of his career. The deserving climax to a football journey littered with maliciousness, rejection, under-apprectiation and personal perseverance. He was already an old head by the time he catapulted himself into NFL lore and joined the annals of black athletes who have inspired social change through incomparable athletic feats.
Twenty years from now experts and analysts will reflect on Wilson’s “quiet” Super Bowl victory as a watershed moment in NFL history. The formula has been established for winning with shorter, faster athletically gifted spread QBs and Wilson is the prototype. We thought it would be RG3, but he fell victim to injury – the very thing NFL execs have cold sweats about when contemplating putting their entire franchise on the back of a super-fly that could get swatted off the field at any moment. Mike Vick never had the accuracy or work ethic to get it done. Colin Kaepernick needs to study some more film.
While Wilson gladly takes the torch from Williams, he’s not just looking to carry it. He’s going to burn down every NFL town he rolls through with the swag of a champion.