Much as I really do love former Seahawks linebacker, KJ Wright, yesterday morning on Seattle sports radio, he said a thing that I hear a LOT from athletes and CEOs and other affluent types…and I think most of them don’t really consider what they’re saying.
When asked about Russell Wilson leaving Seattle for Denver and what the reaction to his return next Monday night might be, KJ said that Russ has a responsibility to do what is best for him, first, on the business side of the NFL. Fine so far. Certainly Russell Wilson is allowed to act in his own best interests, whether we 12s like it or not.
BUT, then JK said this: “The man has to provide for his family, doesn’t he?”
Let’s get one thing straight: that is maybe the most over-entitled, crass, dismissive sentence ever uttered with regularity. “Take care of his family” is one of those cheap, easy, emotion-buttons – just as “We have to do it FOR THE CHILDREN!” – that no reasonable person can argue with, right?
While I am seldom accused of being reasonable, I CAN argue with that and here goes:
If you are a pro athlete and you sign, as Russell did, a $35M a year contract with the Seahawks, unless you are a complete moron and just MUST have six houses and a private jet and a yacht and a castle in the Italian Alps and have never heard the words “financial advisor”, the FIRST YEAR of that contract takes ample care of any money worries your family will EVER have. Give any half-bright American $35 million ONCE and that person CAN, while still living a lavish lifestyle, make that 35 mil sustain a comfortable existence for the rest of their natural life. Guaranteed. I damned sure could and so could you. I could travel at will, own a NICE home and a vacation cabin somewhere, pay for my grandkids’ college educations, new car every year, give Judye a dozen roses a day forever, invest in businesses, pay a lawn service and cleaning crews, buy any guitars I want, give $50 bills to everyone begging in the street, and support the charities I do now PLUS a couple dozen more.
This old whine about “Caring for my family!” is cheap and unworthy button-pushing; a greedy person trying to deflect criticism by leaning on the only thing they still have in common with the Average Joe. Mom, apple pie, kids, dogs, family – pick one and justify damned near anything you do. Unless somebody sits down and thinks about what you said.
How much is Enough? How much past x-number on your paycheck is just simple greed, that all-American drive to pile up insane and generally useless stacks of cash in advance of…what? Disaster? If climate change drowns coastal cities everywhere and burns the earth to a crisp, your stack of cash will be useful mostly for replacing the toilet paper that’s flying off shelves everywhere. IF all these athletes and other over-paid shit-weasels who piss and moan about “my family!” all decided to take whatever percentage of their incomes that they will never even touch, which will become mostly a ledger entry for their accountants, and used it for a higher purpose, guys like Russell, for an example, could build childrens’ hospitals in smaller areas all over America, save lives, create businesses that give people jobs, build parks and senior centers, and more things that I can imagine.
Russell, by his own admission, is terminally worried about his “legacy”. It’s why he wanted to wriggle out of the Seahawks run-first offense and get the chance to finally pile up yardage and scoring figures that will make him what he always saw for himself: becoming one of the immortals like Brady and Montana and Manning and Unitas. What about the genuine legacy that Russell Wilson could create for himself as the guiding light of professional athletes as philanthropists and civic saviors? Weigh both in the scales and you’ll see, I think, why I wrote this. One is illusion and will ALWAYS be debated. The latter is Forever, lasting, touching lives, doing GOOD. And, unless the memory of Tom Brady is summarily erased from all human consciousness, a 34 year old QB whose career is mostly behind him has NO shot at becoming the G.O.A.T.
When athletes AND their teammates buy into the “provide for my family!” fantasy, they cheapen their legacies. I don’t care that the Seahawks got rid of Russell Wilson. They should have. His decline is now Denver’s problem and good riddance. But KJ and other athletes can man up and admit that Russ went to Denver because he was ambitious and greedy. Proof? He bought the house in the photo for $25 MILLION dollars. Could his family have been just as safe and happy and provided for in a $2m house?
We ALL know the answer to that: greed, ego, misplaced values. “Respect’? Maybe, but a very cheap and flimsy version of it, all surface and no depth.