Sunday, July 7, 2013

Why I Like Wilson Over Kaepernick

National sports media pundits have crowned the enmity between the Seahawks' and Forty-niners' as the sexiest current NFL rivalry over the course of this offseason, some starting the narrative as early as the middle of last season. This has even been picked up outside traditional sports media venues as public figures, such as Macklemore, have made their loyalties known.

One of the reasons this is such a compelling story is the massive number of similarities between the two teams. Both are coached by successful, and rival, college coaches; both have young, physically dominant defenses; both style themselves as physical, smash-mouth offenses; both have demonstrated an ability to play football at a level on par, or better than, any other elite team in the League; and they both have two young quarterbacks that have shown the potential to develop into the elite of their generation.

I think that this last similarity is misleading however. We have seen a lot of comparisons between the 49ers' Colin Kaepernick and the Seahawks' Russell Wilson, mostly focusing on their ability to pose a "dual threat" via the trendy "read option" offense that saw markedly increased use in the NFL last year.
Many have marveled at Kaepernick's speed and throwing velocity, which he undoubtedly possesses in abundance, however I believe that Russell Wilson has exhibited traits of maturity, team leadership, dedication, and confident ambition, that will propel him to the top of his profession in spite of his perceived deficiency in height.

A recent news story has emphasized what I see as the key difference between the two quarterbacks, one that I see as a deciding factor in my prediction that Russell Wilson will reach a higher ceiling and has the potential to have a longer, more illustrious career. Wilson's leadership and dedication to his team and to their fans can be clearly seen and easily demonstrated, a quick example is his habit of closing nearly every public appearance or statement with his trademark "Go Hawks!" catchphrase.
In counterexample, Colin Kaepernick received negative publicity recently for his choice of headwear on Independance Day, when he was spotted sporting a Miami Dolphins hat at a party in South Beach. Now this is certainly not a massive transgression, and while it might be a bit tasteless it's certainly not a reason to call into serious question the quarterback's dedication.
However, the way in which he responded throws into sharp contrast his level of maturity and, in my opinion, is cause for worry if you are a 49ers fan.

When he started to get negative comments in social media, a mature response might have been to apologize to those fans that were offended and explain that he didn't think it was a big deal to wear the local teams gear when they weren't a rival. On the other hand, an immature response would be to post a sneering selfi on instagram and explain that he didn't care what anyone thought and he would keep wearing what he wanted.
Guess what route he chose?

The reason I see this response as a big deal is because I believe that it demonstrates an attitude of entitlement that would worry me if Kaepernick were my team's quarterback. This is a quarterback for a very talented team who has roughly 10 and a half starts under his belt. He has shown incredible raw talent, but he has hardly proven himself as an elite quarterback. I'd like to see humility and a concern for his team rather than selfish stubbornness. To be clear, his apparent lack of concern for the feelings of his fanbase are what I object to, not the actual decision to wear the hat.

Am I making a mountain out of a molehill? Could I be reading way too much into a simple knee-jerk instagram reaction? Undoubtedly I am, but what else is the offseason for? At the end of the day I may very well be a Seahawks fan simply justifying my unwavering love of my star quarterback. But I feel pretty happy that I don't have to make excuses for anything my quarterback has done this offseason.

Go Hawks!