SEATTLE – Last year, Russell Wilson somewhat facetiously introduced his alter-ego, “Mr. Unlimited,” to counteract what he termed “the typical boring Russell, Robot Russell.”
He explained, “You’ve got to have a thought process of being unlimited.”
These days, it appears that “Mr. Unlimited” might accurately refer to Wilson’s entrepreneurial ventures outside his main one, which is still being the quarterback of the Seattle Seahawks. You might recall that he re-upped with the Seahawks on this past Tax Day, April 15, for $149 million over four years. The new contract makes him (for now) the highest-paid player in NFL history. And Wilson has talked often about playing until he’s 40 or beyond, much like another QB tycoon, Tom Brady.
But Wilson, at age 30, is leaving little doubt that he wants to build a business empire around his athletic one. And his ambitions are unlimited.
The ever-expanding Wilson portfolio added another entry earlier this month with the announcement that he, along with wife Ciara, had become minority owners of the Seattle Sounders soccer team.
That’s on top of his investment (along with Ciara) in June of 2018 in the Portland Diamond Project, which is trying to bring major-league baseball to the Rose City. And then there’s Wilson’s long-standing involvement as a partner in Chris Hansen’s arena project in SoDo, which is still endeavoring, against ever-increasing odds and the might of the competing Oak View Group, to bring NBA basketball to Seattle.
And that’s on top of a slew of business projects that Wilson has his hand (and wallet) in, from West2East, his production company, to Good Man Brand, a high-end clothing retailer.
There’s Limitless Minds, a startup that Wilson launched with his mental coach, Trevor Moawad, and his brother, Harry Wilson, among others. It sells training and consulting services to companies.
There’s Tally, a sports-prediction app with Jeff Bezos and YouTube co-founder Chad Hurley as investors, and Wilson as founder and chairman. That was a pivot from an unsuccessful Wilson venture called TraceMe, which aimed to connect celebrities with fans but failed to gain traction.
In the middle of it all is the Why Not You Foundation, Wilson’s charity.
The scope of Wilson’s off-field ventures can be mind-boggling. This is a guy who learned to pilot a helicopter and still is technically a member of the New York Yankees organization after a brief minor-league career in the Rockies’ system. He reps Nike, runs a passing academy in the offseason, and is a senior editor at Derek Jeter’s Players Tribune (I’d love to discuss gerunds with him one day). And that’s just for starters.
“The biggest goal is to be able to influence and change the world,” Wilson once told USA Today. “That’s the real truth of it all.”
I know some people have worried that Wilson is spreading himself too thin, but I’ve yet to see any signs that he’s short-shrifting his primary duties as Seahawks quarterback in any way.
Until such evidence emerges, I say, more power to him. If he wants to emulate Bezos along with Drew Brees, that’s his business. Speaking of his business: add Luvo, a frozen-food company, and Juice Press, an organic food retailer, to the businesses in which Mr. Unlimited has acquired equity interest. And don’t forget Recovery Water, another of his business interests, which was purported by Wilson (though unsupported) to prevent concussions.
Wilson is coming off what in many ways was his finest statistical season, with 35 touchdown passes, just seven interceptions and a career-high 110.9 rating. He has proven himself to be one of the elite quarterbacks in the league, despite where some lists place him, and despite what many see as the Seahawks’ failure to unleash his arm to its fullest extent.
To me, there’s nothing sinister about Wilson’s eclectic interests and expansive ambitions. He still finds time to visit the sick kids at Children’s Hospital each week, without fail, and has taken on the cause of domestic violence with his “Pass the Peace” initiative. And with all that, Wilson is laser-focused on football when training camp begins. I don’t see that changing no matter how many boards he sits on.
Wilson likes to think of himself as a master multitasker, dating back to his days as a two-sport athlete with a heavy academic workload at North Carolina State. The Seahawks will need him to be at the top of his game this year. Few players in the league are as essential to their team as Wilson is to the Seahawks.
And in his eighth season, at the sweet-spot juncture of his career where his football acumen is at peak level and his physical skills have not yet succumbed to the ravages of age, it’s reasonable to expect him to reach levels thus far yet attained.
If that happens, the Seahawks’ prospects in 2019 are, well, unlimited.