NFL: Russell Wilson’s Ethnicity Brings Pride to Native Americans

Russell Wilson is becoming one of the best NFL quarterbacks and highest-paid players. But the Super Bowl XLVIII champion’s time in the league has also been marked by controversy. Several seasons ago there was a reported rift with some Seahawks teammates as well as some ugly rumors about his ethnicity.

Throughout it all, Wilson has remained a stoic leader, and he’s made one ethnic demographic very proud. 

Russell Wilson’s NFL achievements

The 2012 NFL Draft saw several prominent quarterbacks including Andrew Luck with the first overall pick and Robert Griffin III with the second pick. It wasn’t until the third round that the Seattle Seahawks selected Wilson.

Despite going relatively late in the draft, the former NC State and Wisconsin quarterback has had a better career than both the aforementioned top picks. After a brilliant but injury-plagued career, Luck retired this offseason. Griffin also struggled with injuries before accepting a backup role in Baltimore.

Here are Wilson’s career numbers so far: 

  • 83-38-1 win-loss record
  • 64.6% pass completion
  • 219 touchdowns
  • 28,361 yards
  • 65 interceptions 

Wilson was under center when the Seahawks won the Super Bowl in 2013. He also led the team to another Super Bowl appearance the next season, coming up just short of a repeat against the New England Patriots. This year, he’s having an MVP-worthy season.

Controversy over Wilson’s ethnicity

In 2014, a controversy erupted over Wilson’s ethnicity. Bleacher Report stated that some of his teammates may not view Wilson as being “black enough.” 

Bleacher Report’s Mike Freeman wrote, “There is also an element of race that needs to be discussed. My feeling on this — and it’s backed up by several interviews with Seahawks players — is that some of the black players think Wilson isn’t black enough.”

Freeman went on to explain, ‘This is an issue that extends outside of football, into African-American society — though it’s gotten better recently. Well-spoken blacks are seen by some other blacks as not completely black. Some of this is at play.'”

Wilson didn’t say much about the perceived criticism, telling The Sporting News in 2014, “I don’t even know what that means.” No matter the hang-ups some old teammates had about his ethnicity, Wilson has been known to show pride in his heritage, especially one part that’s seldomly reported.

Wilson’s ethnicity brings pride to Native Americans

In 2015, Wilson showed pride in his own Native American heritage while visiting sick kids in the hospital. According to Facebook via News Maven, “Wilson visited Seattle Children’s Hospital, and posted the picture to Facebook with the caption “Selfie with my girl LaLa @seattlechildrens She’s got Native American in her like me!”

The Seahawks star didn’t specify which tribe he was a part of. Regardless, Wilson received an outpouring of support on social media from Native Americans, especially those living in the Pacific Northwest where the Seahawks reside.

Fans of Wilson responded with, “Atowamiish Russell…we the YAKAMA NATION love our SEATTLE SEAHAWKS” and “Native people here in Washington state sure love you Russ…especially here at the Lummi Nation.”

Others commented in support of the athlete. One wrote, “Love the selfie…also that is great knowing you are part Native American. I knew I liked you, I am NA from Montana the Blackfeet tribe. You [are a] great guy Russell.”

Wilson’s ethnicity may still be an issue for some people with outdated or ignorant views, but it’s not for the quarterback and certainly not for the majority of Seahawks fans. They’ll continue to judge him based on his play on the field and his actions off of it.