Last week, Pete Carroll came out with the relatively surprising decision to make Russell Wilson his starting QB over the much-hyped free agent signing Matt Flynn. He was basing this on a very strong preseason performance by Wilson, in which he looked extremely confident, and ready to lead a team right out of the gate.
This is a certainly a risky decision. Wilson may have been playing above his actual abilities in the preseason. When you consider that he was playing against second-string defenses in his first two appearances, and even his start against Kansas City may have been against a limited defensive set, there's no way of really knowing if what he did in the preseason is indicative of what he can actually do for the Seahawks in the regular season.
With that said, it's hard not be excited about the kid. He plays with a shocking amount of confidence for someone so young. He thinks he can make every play, and so far, he's usually been right. So, let's set aside all the reasons to be pessimistic, and just focus on the bright side. What if Russell Wilson actually lives up to his potential right from the start? What if he immediately becomes the Seahawks unquestioned leader and leads them to a playoff berth?
He could become the biggest phenomenon in the NFL.
Let's remember, people love underdog stories. That's why Tim Tebow inexplicably winning so many games for Denver was such a big deal. Same goes for Jeremy Lin's breakout season in the NBA. Fans love the idea of players overcoming adversity, and becoming stars in spite of doubters. Unlike Tebow, Wilson actually can be a legitimate starting QB in the NFL, and that should set his popularity ceiling even higher.
Put it this way: Cam Newton was pretty popular after his strong rookie campaign, but imagine if instead of being a No. 1 overall pick, he had been taken in the fourth round, and began training camp as the Panthers third-string quarterback. Wouldn't his exploits have been far more interesting in that context?
It's one thing when a player we expect to succeed does well, but it's way more fun when players break free from obscurity and become household names. That's why an impressive rookie campaign for Wilson would likely be more fun than if Andrew Luck or RG3 did the same.
The "out-of-nowhere" factor would make Wilson very appealing, and he would become a huge fan favorite. If the Seahawks win games early in the season, and Wilson is one of the big reasons, don't be surprised if No. 3 Seahawks jerseys start flying off the shelves pretty quickly.