It can be a bit hard to definitively define the word “corny,” but to paraphrase the immortal words of former Supreme Court justice Potter Stewart, you usually know it when you see it.
You don’t have to squint too hard to find a glaring example of corniness in the world of sports, as that realm is filled to the brim with tryhard athletes with personalities defined by a crippling lack of self-awareness and an undying need for attention.
It takes a fair amount of effort to stand out in a crowded pack filled with people whose existence largely revolves around posting workout videos, speaking in tired clichés, and trying to come off as Relatable despite the wildly Unrelatable lifestyle that tends to come with that line of work.
As a result, you have to give credit where credit is due to Russell Wilson for managing to do exactly that.
Wilson garnered plenty of goodwill with fans in Seattle and beyond during his time with the Seahawks, but the quarterback saw his reputation take a major hit after he was traded to a Broncos team that became the laughingstock of the NFL last season thanks in no small part to his abysmal play during his first season in Denver.
The QB’s dismal performance was obviously the biggest point of contention among Broncos fans, but he certainly didn’t help his case by exuding a unique brand of corniness that quickly became impossible to ignore and only served to make people hate him more than they already did.
This wasn’t necessarily a breaking development. Wilson definitely engaged in some cringeworthy behavior while he was still in Seattle, but he was largely given the benefit of the doubt thanks to his ability to produce on the field.
However, that’s no longer the case—so here’s how he slowly but surely transformed into the cornball he’s largely viewed as today.
How Russell Wilson became the corniest player in the NFL
Claiming God told him to help keep Ciara pure
Wilson is one of many athletes out there who are incredibly vocal about their religious beliefs, and while his outspoken Christianity might rub some people the wrong way, I’m not going to criticize him for being candid about that aspect of his life.
With that said, it’s hard not to roll your eyes at the story he told back in 2015 when he said God personally reached out to him to “lead” his now-wife Ciara, as he claims he was sitting in her dressing room while she was on tour before he relayed that message to her and the duo agreed to save themselves for marriage.
Claiming he used fancy water to “cure” a concussion
During the 2015 NFC Championship Game, Wilson ended up on the receiving end of a massive hit to the head after getting blocked by Clay Matthews following an interception.
He was somehow able to avoid being diagnosed with a concussion and would ultimately lead the Seahawks to one of the biggest comebacks in NFL playoff history while punching his ticket to the Super Bowl.
While you could chalk up that resilience to his toughness, the QB eventually decided to give the bulk of the credit to Reliant Recovery Water (a brand he’d invested in) when he asserted its signature “nanobubbles and electrolytes” were the real reason he managed to avoid being injured on the play.
Relying on Google to figure out how to compliment Ciara
In 2016, Wilson shared his love for his soon-to-be fiancée in a tweet where he waxed about her “lilac soft” lips and “loving & affectionate” personality.
It was certainly a sweet gesture—although it was undermined by internet sleuths who quickly discovered he’d plagiarized one of the first websites that pop up when you Google “describing a beautiful woman.”
However, that didn’t stop her from saying “Yes” when he popped the question less than two months later.
I don’t even need to say anything about this. You can just watch it for yourself.
— Russell Wilson (@DangeRussWilson) May 19, 2018
The most generic “Mic’d Up” segment imaginable
ESPN opted to hook Wilson up to a microphone when the Seahawks faced off against the Vikings in 2019, and viewers hoping to get some special insight into what made the Seattle offense click were likely very underwhelmed.
Again, Wilson is far from the only athlete out there who speaks in overused platitudes, but the fact that he peppered his own teammates with a deluge of awful cliches—complete with a Friday Night Lights reference!—made it hard not to question if he’s actually a robot in a football player’s body.
Russell Wilson gave us the most cringe-worthy mic'd up in NFL history on Monday night pic.twitter.com/EGihjIloMD
— Kevin Boilard (@KevinBoilard) December 3, 2019
Preparing for a game he was never going to play in
Wilson was sidelined with a finger injury that kept him out of action for a few weeks toward the start of the 2021 season, and he was still about a month away from being healthy enough to play when the Seahawks faced off against the Steelers in October.
However, that didn’t stop him from taking the field and going through his pregame routine even though there was no chance he was going to suit up for the contest, which plenty of people viewed as a way for the QB to say “LOOK AT ME!!!” without saying anything at all.
Russell Wilson's pregame routine is unlike any other.
— NFL (@NFL) October 18, 2021
Claiming he spent upwards of 20 hours a day rehabbing that finger injury
Yes, that is a thing he actually said.
Wilson said he worked 19-20 hours a day trying to set records in his recovery.
— Bob Condotta (@bcondotta) November 11, 2021
“Broncos Country, Let’s Ride!”
It’s admittedly hard to come off as cool when you’re repeatedly uttering the same words while filming a hype video for the Jumbotron in front of a green screen.
However, Wilson’s decision to adopt that phrase and deploy it at the end of every press conference after arriving in Denver came back to haunt him, as every person in Broncos Country who agreed to ride with him heading into the season was clamoring to jump off by the middle of it.
You could argue Wilson was being purposefully corny in the ads for the “Dangerwich” that Subway quietly removed from its “Vault” following his disastrous start to last year’s season.
— CRUNCHMANN99 ✨ (@dgtlcrunchwrap) October 7, 2022
Russell Wilson & Subway 🤣
The original video was deleted from TikTok and Twitter pic.twitter.com/0sfQwb1ZnV
— Ben Cary (@Ben_Cary_) September 27, 2022
However, based on all of the evidence I’ve presented prior to these exhibits, it’s hard to give him the benefit of the doubt.