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Seattle Seahawks: Russell Wilson Is Not a Rookie

SEATTLE, WA - NOVEMBER 11:  Quarterback Russell Wilson #3 of the Seattle Seahawks throws in the first quarter against the New York Jets at CenturyLink Field on November 11, 2012 in Seattle, Washington. Seattle defeated New York Jets 28-7.  (Photo by Kevin Casey/Getty Images)
Kevin Casey/Getty Images
Todd PheiferAnalyst IIINovember 17, 2012

No, this is not a conspiracy article.

And, yes, I know that technically Russell Wilson is a rookie.

However, at the risk of getting too philosophical for the realm of sports, what is a “rookie” anyway?

A rookie is a person who is starry-eyed and carries luggage for the veterans. A rookie is someone who should be quiet and listen for a couple of years until he or she gets up to speed. A rookie does not lead a team to a 6-4 record and put it in a good position to make the playoffs after being drafted in the third round.

Hello, Russell Wilson. Way to ruin a perfectly good stereotype.

Granted, we have seen this before in recent years. The NFL is different these days. I am old enough to remember when a rookie quarterback was going to get very cozy with his clipboard for the foreseeable future. Most rookie quarterbacks were projects who needed developing over the course of a couple of seasons.

Blame it on the quarterback-friendly rules that exist in the modern NFL. But at this point it doesn't matter. A rookie can start at quarterback and find success.

Obviously, they still have to perform and sustain that performance beyond their first year, as demonstrated by Cam Newton.

From a performance standpoint, the numbers for Wilson are very good. If you are into data like passer rating, you can't help but notice that Wilson is now the 12th-best thrower in the NFL and he is tied for 10th in touchdowns.

Not bad for a guy who some people still believe to be too short.

Is Wilson an elite quarterback, whatever that designation means? I was listening to Dan Patrick the other day and he was lamenting that the term “elite quarterback” is thrown around a lot, even though no one has a clear definition for the phrase.

I agree with his lament, as he used Eli Manning as an example. Is  Manning viewed the same as an Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady or even Peyton Manning? Perhaps not. And yet, Eli has one more Super Bowl ring than two of those quarterbacks.

If Wilson led the Seahawks to a Super Bowl win this season, would he be an elite quarterback? After all, he would have the same number of Super Bowl rings as Aaron Rodgers.

The point is that statistics are nice, but winning is still the measuring stick. Wilson has six wins this season, three more than four-year pro Mark Sanchez. Experience did not help Sanchez last week against the stingy Seattle defense. 

I guess experience isn’t everything.

Don't get me wrong. Experience can't ever be discounted or dismissed. There is a reason why some of these guys are regarded as elite quarterbacks. They have the talent and the statistics, but they have also been through adversity on a lot of levels.

The bottom line is that it doesn't matter what we think of Wilson. What matters is the atmosphere that he creates in the huddle.

I was listening to Jim Rome interview Seattle fullback Michael Robinson. When asked to describe Wilson, there were the usual comments about poise, preparation and positive attitude. Then Robinson said something interesting.

He said, “You don’t think he is a rookie.”

Bingo. If his team sees him as a seasoned veteran, they are going to respond with more confidence and overall production. The squad does not treat him like a rookie. Why should we?

How about we start referring to Wilson as a first-year player. We may be talking semantics, but there is meaning in that kind of re-labeling. 

Now, things can obviously change between now and the end of the season.

However, at the moment, I have a hard time calling Wilson a rookie.

Oh, and congratulations to him for winning the NFL First-Year Player of the Week!

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