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John McGrath: Hawks QB Wilson underpaid but spare me the woe

Russell Wilson has taken some very wise advice.

He’s unburdened by a monthly car payment.

I learned this Thursday when Mark Rodgers, the agent for the Seattle Seahawks quarterback, talked with Brock Huard and Mike Salk on their 710 ESPN Seattle sports-talk show.

When it comes to the personal finances of pro athletes, I’m inclined to keep things simple: Their business is none of my business. And while I’d assumed Wilson owns a motor vehicle more luxurious than the 10-year old Plymouth Voyager I used to drive, his ability to keep possession of such a vehicle never concerned me.

But then I heard Rodgers suggest his client’s relatively modest NFL salary — Wilson is scheduled to earn $1.5 million in 2015 —required the star quarterback to survive from paycheck to paycheck.

“This didn’t sneak up on us,” Rodgers said of Wilson’s contract-extension negotiation. “Financially, we had planned, long term, for him to play for $1.5 million, so there isn’t any expectation of more money coming in from the Seahawks this year. Russell doesn’t have a mortgage, and he doesn’t have a car payment. We’ve kept those things out of the realm for him, because at this point in his life, he can’t make those financial obligations. It just doesn’t make sense from a planning standpoint.”

Wilson has many gifts, not the least of which is a financial adviser prone to exercise prudence. Balancing a bank account that’s tethered to a monthly mortgage and car payment can be challenge for any 26-year-old, especially if he’s a 26-year-old forced to make ends meet on a mere $1.5 million for one season.

Again, this is none of my business, so I’m hesitant to point out that Wilson could probably afford to make his monthly car payment from the endorsement compensation he receives from, let’s see: Alaska Airlines, Bose, American Family Insurance, Braun, Eat the Ball — a European company that bakes bread in the shape of footballs, basketballs and baseballs — Duracell, Microsoft, and a Tacoma-based auto dealership that last year offered a $359-a-month lease plan for a sports sedan.

“Tell them Russell Wilson sent you,” Russell Wilson said at end of the television commercial, using a standard line with uncertain consequences.

Former Mariners outfielder Jay Buhner, ubiquitous spokesperson for a dealership that sells “trucks, trucks and more trucks,” implores potential customers to “tell them ‘The Bone’ sent you.”

I am wondering how this scenario would go:

Salesman: “May I help you?”

Customer: “I’m interested in looking at trucks, trucks and more trucks. ‘The Bone’ sent me!”

Salesman: “Excuse me?”

Sorry for the digression, we will now proceed with our regularly scheduled commentary.

The agent representing Russell Wilson, whose endorsement portfolio includes serving as a pitch man for a Mercedes-Benz dealership, said during a Thursday morning radio interview that arranging a monthly car payment is “out of the realm for him, because at this point in his life, he just can’t make those financial obligations.”

Odds are slim, but if ever I’m appointed king of the world for a day, I’m waging a serious war against childhood famine, preventable diseases, and any late-inning relief pitcher who makes more than one half-hearted throw to first with a baserunner aboard.

When I get all that out of the way, I’ll establish it as a felony for any pro athlete, or his representative, to talk about megabucks contract negotiations in a “just-a-normal-guy-trying-to-get-by” tone. No references to putting food on the table or kids to support, no talk of mortgages or car payments.

A third-round draft choice whose first NFL contract was worth laundromat coins relative to his peers, Wilson is due to be paid, well, whatever the market value is for quarterbacks who’ve taken their teams to consecutive Super Bowls. The price fluctuates — $25 million a year, $30 million a year —but whatever figure is reached, Wilson will deserve it.

He wins games on the field and conducts himself as a role model off of it. Among the pro athletes who qualify for inclusion on Seattle’s version of Mount Rushmore, Wilson’s ability to remain above and beyond controversy is unique.

But enough with the poor, unfortunate soul trying to get by.

Locally revered and nationally admired, Russell Carrington Wilson is not to be confused with Joseph Schmo Sixpack, worrying about how to balance a bank account gutted by mortgage and car payments.

Wilson can afford a car. Implying otherwise is an absurdity that reinforces my king-of-the-world-for-a-day aspirations.

There oughta be a law. Those who violate it shall be forced to stand on a highway amid an onslaught of trucks, trucks and more trucks.

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