Grade the take: NFL analyst has awful opinion on Russell Wilson-Steelers fit

One NFL analyst doesn't think Russell Wilson is a good fit for the Pittsburgh Steelers for all the wrong reasons.

Russell Wilson, Denver Broncos
Russell Wilson, Denver Broncos / Lon Horwedel-USA TODAY Sports

It's not finalized yet, but the Denver Broncos are probably going to part ways with Russell Wilson. We can accept the inevitable and prepare for it. As Sean Payton ogles J.J. McCarthy, Wilson will set his sights on free agency. One popular hypothetical destination is the Pittsburgh Steelers.

On the surface, it's a solid fit. Kenny Pickett was all-around bad in his sophomore season and new OC Arthur Smith needs a QB he can trust. For all his flaws, Wilson was quietly productive in Payton's offense last season. He completed 66.4 percent of his passes for 3,070 yards, 26 touchdowns, and only eight interceptions in 15 starts.

Not bad, folks! Wilson is getting up there in age at 35 and he is certainly not the nine-time Pro Bowl QB of old. The Steelers would presumably let Wilson and Pickett duke it out for the starting spot in training camp. Wilson is from the northeast, so it would be a homecoming of sorts for him.

While there are valid football reasons to oppose the union, Fox Sports analyst LaVar Arrington believes Wilson would fail in Pittsburgh because he is "too soft."

"I just don’t think his personality is a conducive personality for the Pittsburgh way. He’s soft."

Now, there's a take!

No, Russell Wilson is not "too soft" for the Steelers

This has been the popular criticism of Russell Wilson over the years. His bothers teammates! He cares too much about the NFL lifestyle, and not enough about winning! It's all performative — the airplane workouts, the constant social media posting! Blah, blah, more blah.

I'm not here to say Wilson has not been over-the-top with the self-marketing on occasion. He's a salesman, a businessman. Football is a business for a lot of star players and Wilson has taken great care of his star persona.

That generally means jack on the field, though. How often does this line of criticism actually carry weight? We can point to countless examples of players who took great interest in their off-field pursuits who were not "soft" on the football field.

Lest we forget, Wilson has nine Pro Bowls and a Super Bowl to his name. The man spent a decade with the Seattle Seahawks, playing for notorious hard-ass Pete Carroll in the Legion of Boom, in front of the 12th Man. He won the championship there. He competed at the highest possible level for a perennial contender and built a legitimate Hall of Fame resumé.

What is the difference between Wilson's manicured off-field persona and that of Tom Brady? Obviously, the latter was more successful, but the incessant brand myth-making, the famous significant other? Both are fairly comparable, and not a single soul would call Tom Brady soft. Why is that label applied to Wilson?

Maybe it's simply because he's not as good as Tom Brady, and the decline has been more severe. That's valid, but those are football reasons. Wilson's mobility has declined, he doesn't stand very tall in the pocket, and he's over the hill. If that's why you're against him in Pittsburgh, fine. But pulling out the "soft" card, or the "Pittsburgh Way" card, is completely ridiculous.

Wilson has his share of missteps in the realm of social media, and yeah, some of the "Broncos Country, let's ride!" stuff can be perceived as corny. But corny does not equal soft, and frankly, Wilson has accomplished far too much in the league to have that be his reputation. It's disrespectful to think Wilson wouldn't at least serve as a noble and effective mentor for Pickett and a young Steelers locker room.

And, what part of the "Pittsburgh Way" are we even referencing here? The Steelers put up with Antonio Brown for ages. Ben Roethlisberger was not a saint. Even this past season, we saw George Pickens lobbying for trades on social media and Diontae Johnson taking plays off. So, seriously, please explain the "Pittsburgh Way." Mike Tomlin is a great coach, but we don't have to pretend that the Steelers locker room is a sacred place.

In the end, Wilson may or may not have enough in the tank to lead Pittsburgh where that franchise wants to go. Honestly, he probably doesn't. But that is beside the point as far as Arrington's argument is concerned. Wilson is easy to make fun of, but the "soft" stuff needs to stop.

Grade: D

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