BY Art Thiel 06:00AM 03/02/2021

Thiel: The ‘attention economy’ and Russell Wilson

In the attention economy, Wilson has gathered attention that becomes power, much in the way of LeBron James and Tom Brady. The world has changed, and he’s atop it.

Russell Wilson knows a little about how attention leads to power. / Art Thiel, Sportspress Northwest

I’ve read a few stories during the shutdown about what is called the attention economy. The concept is not directly about sports, but it is about many things in the world that have changed in the 21st century, which includes sports.

The attention economy was first described in 1971, then the phrase was used in the 1990s and early 2000s to describe the economic period that followed, in succession, the agricultural economy, the industrial economy, and the information economy. In 2007, the year Facebook introduced its News Feed and Apple debuted the first smart phone, everything accelerated.

According to proponents of the attention-economy concept, human attention has become the scarcest resource amid the swirl of information constantly bombarding consumers.

In an opinion piece in the New York Times Feb. 4 headlined, The Internet Rewired Our Brains, Charlie Warzel wrote, “Attention has always been currency, but as we’ve begun to live our lives increasingly online, it’s now the currency. Any discussion of power is now, ultimately, a conversation about attention and how we extract it, wield it, waste it, abuse it, sell it, lose it and profit from it.

“Advertising is part of the attention economy. So are journalism and politics and the streaming business and all the social media platforms.”

Warzel interviewed Michael Goldhaber, a retired theoretical physicist, who saw this coming in the 1980s and has been writing about it steadily since.

“Every single action we take — calling our grandparents, cleaning up the kitchen or, today, scrolling through our phones — is a transaction,” Goldhaber told Wenzel. “We are taking what precious little attention we have and diverting it toward something. This is a zero-sum proposition — when you pay attention to one thing, you ignore something else.”

Warzel wrote that there is “a universal truth about the attention economy: Those who can collectively commandeer enough attention can accumulate a staggering amount of power quickly. And it’s never been easier to do than it is right now.”

Which gets me to Russell Wilson.

An exchange on Twitter between current Wilson teammate LB K.J. Wright, and retired teammate FB Michael Robinson (h/t Danny O’Neil, ESPN 710 radio) illuminated two responses to the Seahawks quarterback’s airing of grievances, unique for him, that’s consuming Seattle sports and a good bit of the national sports oxygen.

Wright was persuaded that there’s no way Wilson would force his way out of Seattle when has been so successful, adored and supported. Robinson, who’s a friend of Wilson’s and from his hometown of Richmond, VA., suggested perhaps too much damage already has been done.

To answer Robinson’s question, Wilson wants attention.

Please don’t misunderstand: This is the not the attention sought by a four-year-old at a dinner table full of parents and older siblings. Nor is the attention gathered by the Kardashians (“famous for being famous”).

Certainly it isn’t the sort of attention Seattle saw recently with Mariners president Kevin Mather. In his time atop the Mariners, he’s actively run away from attention, yet he let the ravenous beast find him and consume his baseball career.

Not saying he deserves any sympathy, but the process was notable for its tornado-like power. His Feb. 5 talk with the Bellevue Rotary went unnoticed on YouTube for two weeks until a Mariners fan found the video and posted it on Twitter Feb. 20. In less than 48 hours, Mather’s foolish disclosures and denigrations went global, making him a self-immolating casualty in the attention economy, a national scandal for which no apology can douse the flames.

We saw how seductive the attention economy can be on Jan. 6, when thousands, incited by lies from President Trump, became insurrectionists and stormed the U.S. Capitol, shocking America and the world with death and destruction.

Nearly as shocking, to me anyway, was that many of the rioters recorded their own bare-faced selves taking up arms against the Constitution, and their fellow Americans, while seemingly oblivious to the fact they were domestic terrorists giving law enforcement the means to find, arrest and jail them.

They were more interested in attention than consequences.

As Goldhaber put it, “Not being able to share your encounters with anyone would soon become torture.” He wrote that in 1997, 10 years before Facebook.

The part of the attention economy that intrigues Wilson is more benign. The space is already occupied by at least two esteemed figures: LeBron James and Tom Brady. They are athletes of great talent, success and charisma who can bend franchises to their wills and draw other renowned athletes to them.

Their successes create great attention, from which grows power, as Wenzel and Goldhaber described in the greater world.

In his media tour (which even included a stop on the Ellen DeGeneres show) after the 30-20 playoff loss to the Rams that ended the season with a clumsy thud, Wilson made clear that he felt he had both the grounds and the power to call out Carroll (although, you may have noticed, never by name) over their differing approaches.

Near the apex of his eventual Hall of Fame career that earned him in 2019 a four-year, $140 million extension, then the largest in NFL history, it was time to explore busting a move, even if three years remained on the contract.

He understands that the more games, titles and awards he wins (such as the 2020 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award, a truly big deal), the more attention he gets, the more power he wields.

He will always believe otherwise, but his agent, Mark Rodgers, knows Wilson entering his age-33 season may never be at this point of leverage again.

Wilson is assessing the likelihood that the Seahawks, low on draft picks and cap space after going all in on 2020 and getting to 12-4 to win the NFL’s toughest division, will be better in 2021. Particularly in view of Carroll’s post-Rams-debacle declaration that part of the Seahawks’ solution will be “to run the ball more.”

The 5-0 start and the MVP talk seemed to tell Wilson that it was possible to win his way, even prevailing despite the league’s then-worst defense. After losses in three of the next four, Carroll dialed things back.

The division was won. A Super Bowl was not. The power battle is the consequence.

We still don’t know who said what to whom, and which fingers pointed where. But the fallout of the playoff failure impelled Wilson to consider a change to a team that could win championships his way. The way James and Brady did it.

Some will doubt he’s at that level. Wilson is not among them.

Already the attention created with his grievances has given him power. Without publicly asking for a trade, Wilson publicly has cut the Seahawks’ trade options from 31 to four. I think it’s a ploy, but hey, the Seahawks agreed to the no-trade clause, likely not thinking they would be backpedaling on defense after one season and one bad loss.

What else Wilson intends to do in the attention economy with his power, I can only guess.

He did, after all, nickname himself “Mr. Unlimited.”

We just didn’t know what it meant.


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YourThoughts

  • Vasili

    One thing to keep in mind about the “attention economy” is that it is easily manipulatable to becoming a win-win-win-win for all parties concerned. Right now, Russell Wilson is the most talked about person in sports; the Seahawks, who got trounced in the “Super Wild Card Round” of the playoffs are the most talked about team; the NFL is still dominating headlines in the sports media landscape one month after the Super Bowl; and all the professional pundits of the NFL network and all other media outlets have a never-ending story that is gold. Everybody wins, even a team that hasn’t won a Super Bowl in eight years, is more talked about than Tom Brady winning his never-to-be-achieved-again seventh Super Bowl triumph, and first with his new team in his 43-year-old “rookie campaign” with said team.

    I don’t think Russell wants to be traded. I don’t think he wants Pete Carroll fired. I think he wants to stop having the crap beat out of him behind our perpetual colander of an offensive line. I think he wants what Tom Brady typically has, and what Patrick Mahomes had until the Big Game LV — time to throw without having to run around for his life.

    Initially, when the instant meme image of Super Sour Bowl Wilson went viral, I thought his chagrin was because of Ciara speaking over him to visit with Goodell. Heck, he was just trying to watch the game. But, then, it was easy to see in the glazed over look in Russ’s eyes the PTSD flashbacks of what he’s been facing his entire career in Seattle: porous pocket protection necessitating Russ’s peerless pirouettes. And how he could not help but come to the conclusion that Patrick Mahomes, the newly anointed GOAT, who only managed to score nine points, came in a distant second in his Russell Wilson imitation.

    I don’t care what anybody thinks, but there’s no way Russ would’ve only scored nine points in that game. He’d have probably lost (if it were with the Seahawks crew of this year), but he’d have put up at least 20 points, like he did against the Rams.

    So, yes, Russ and his agent are maximizing the attention economy — and rightfully so. Because in Russell’s mind, if he had a sound pocket to throw from, and a sound scheme to work with, he thinks he’d be the absolute best QB in the league, and perhaps in its history (as he’s often said he aspires to be). And, according to the attention he’s commanding in this sports media attention economy, he clearly is the best.

    Another excellent article, Art. Thanks for all the amazing thinking and writing you’ve been sharing with us for so many years now, both with SportsPressNW, and the PI previously. I’ve been reading you since I was in the 8th grade in ’87, and you’ve been required reading ever since!

  • Mark Stratton

    See what happens when you read the New York Times?

    • art thiel

      Yes, you learn something. Give it a shot.

      • Mark Stratton

        I’d know I was in trouble if I had to rely on the NYT for expanded erudition. Besides, I subscribe to their West coast branch

        • art thiel

          Hey, Fox News is free.

          Of facts too.

          • Mark Stratton

            CNN meets both standards as well.

          • tor5

            Nope. No one like Hannity, Carlson, Ingraham, Pirro, etc. on CNN pumping up the Big Lie. Not even close.

          • Mark Stratton

            Brett Baier and Wolf Blitzer are the only two on the combined channels that do straight news. The rest are commentators with their own agenda. And CNN has at least as many demagogues, unless you think Tapper and Chris Cuomo are hard news guys

          • tor5

            There’s simply no show on CNN where the host appears night after night pushing lies and conspiracies in slavish devotion to one dude. That is the only agenda on many Fox shows. Can’t compare.

          • Mark Stratton

            You must be watching a differnet version of CNN. That’s pretty much all they did for four straight years. It was negative devotion and conspiracy theories, maybe obsession is a better word. Or do you still believe the Trump campaign colluded with Russia?

            I watch both networks because I believe you have to get both sides, and your characterization of CNN is completely false. They are mirror images

          • tor5

            CNN reported accurately that Meuller found (from the report) “numerous links between the Russian government and the
            Trump Campaign,” found Russia interfered in “sweeping and systematic fashion” on behalf of the Trump campaign, issued indictments against six Trump associates working on the campaign (all found guilty), and Trump said he “does not recall” over 30 times to inquiries from the Special Council. But Fox said there was no collusion, so I guess that settles it.

          • Mark Stratton

            Yes Russia tried to interfere with the election. Yes, the Trump campaign had contacts with Russia(and China, Germany, the Uk, etc); they would be derelict in their duty if they didn’t. Fox didn’t tell me anything, I draw my own conclusions. You believe Mueller found all this evidence but the Dims impeached Trump for a phone call to Ukraine? Have another cup of kool-aid

            As a long time conservative I hate Trump, but I sure enjoy watching liberals get all tied up in knots every time his name comes up.

          • GuyBird

            Why? What kind of sick person enjoys another person’s suffering? A sociopath, for one.

          • Mark Stratton

            Suffering? Sociopath? An overwrought and ridiculous response. Thank you for reenforcing the stereotype

          • GuyBird

            Oh, you didn’t need my help; you reinforced it fine on your own.

          • tor5

            I know. I totally overreact to things like attempts to overthrow American democracy and presidents who side with neo-nazis. I need to get a grip.

          • Mark Stratton

            You are right. I used to think Trump hysteria was silly and overblown. Then between November 4 and January 6 Trump proved me wrong, and you correct. I apologize.

          • tor5

            My Trump rage gets the better of me sometimes, I know. I suspect we could find more common ground than was reflected here. Respect for your post, and I return the sentiment.

          • Stephen Pitell

            They are factual. There’s the difference. The courts have twice ruled that Fox opinion viewers cannot expect the truth from them.

          • Mark Stratton

            The key term is ‘opinion’. I watch the news not the talking heads. The biggest difference is what each network chooses to report. Hunter Biden is a good example.

    • Archangelo Spumoni

      Be careful. Drumpfheteers will brand you “elitist” for actually trying to learn sumpin’ about sumpin’.

      • Mark Stratton

        Learning sumpin’ is the best use of time.

  • Tman

    Could Tom Brady, Aaron Rogers, Patrick Mahomes or Deshaun Watson taken the 2020 Seahawks to 12-4 and the playoffs with a real shot at the Superbowl?

    • Bruce McDermott

      Highly doubt it. That team was a pretender. And that was actually evident long before it collapsed at the end of the season.

      • Husky73

        “I’m going to be a happy idiot and struggle for the legal tender. Say a prayer for The Pretender, who started out so young and strong, only to surrender.” (The Pretender, Jackson Browne)

        • Kevin Lynch

          “Where the ads take aim and lay their claim to the heart and the soul of the spender” (same song)

          • Husky73

            “Where the veterans dream of the fight, fast asleep at the traffic light, and the children silently wait for the ice cream vendor. Out into the cool of the evening strolls The Pretender.”

          • art thiel

            I’m calling a halt on the JB Retrospective; otherwise we’ll waste everyone’s time with Running on Empty.

          • Mark Stratton

            Geez. Get a room already

      • Kevin Lynch

        Totally agree. They got a huge bounce from the scheduling Gods at the start of the season and also toward the end. You want the weaker teams at the beginning of the season, when you build momentum, and at the end, when they have little to play for.

        • art thiel

          There were a lot of weaker teams in the NFL. The Seahawks were at one end of a big bulge in the middle.

      • art thiel

        The schedule’s collection of broken opponents inflated the record. Throughout the NFL there was was a lot of mediocre ball this season, for obvious (covid) reasons. Bucs were 7-5.

    • art thiel

      Good question. It’s easy to say no, but I bet Rodgers and Brady would have been more efficient with Metcalf. Waiting for the play to develop 30 yards downfield is a good way to get sacked a lot.

  • Alan Harrison

    Terrific read and I’ll pick up some Goldhaber on my next library order. Seems to line up with Gladwell, too. In any case, a key issue with attention seeking is attention shaming, it would seem. There will be/already are consequences to RW’s words about the OL, regardless of the truthfulness of them. “We’re all we’ve got, we’re all we need” chants may now cause a fish-eyed lack of buy-in. Your parallels about this story and the Griffey exodus are hauntingly on the money.

    • art thiel

      Thanks. I think the only OL he has to work on is Brown, because the other guys don’t have standing to say anything. And even Brown won’t say much. How can he? He held himself out of games in HOU in order to force the trade to SEA!

  • tor5

    Interesting post, Art! What’s also interesting is that, even though there is a finite amount of attention, any item that achieves critical mass explodes and consumes way more than its share. There’s been thousands of words written for every word Russ has actually spoken. To my knowledge, neither Carroll nor Schneider have said anything, but there’s been endless speculation about what they’re thinking. Whether it was intentional or not, Russ really propelled this story by being otherwise a bit boring. It makes me think the M’s should actually have to pay some of Russ’s salary, because the Mather story would be that much worse if Russ wasn’t providing so much alternative copy for Seattle sports pages.

    • art thiel

      Your point about critical mass is what Trump reached and held for four years. He’s exactly what Goldhaber feared would happen with the accelerator of social media, especially one that confined messaging to 280 characters.

      Regarding Wilson, Carroll and Schneider were surprised and angry to have been put on defense, but have played it smart by not punching back. He’s Russell Wilson — you can’t punch him! The club loses the PR game if it says anythiing because he’s their star player under contract.

  • WestCoastBias79

    Interesting read. If the NFL combine was happening, this may not be a story outside of Seattle anymore. If Russ is trying to play the long game in this attention economy, and reach the heights of Tom Brady, he needs to take a pay cut. It’s a much easier calculus to make when you’re already married to a billionaire, but Brady surely realizes that he’ll more than make up on the back end taking marginal pay cuts (which he just did again) in the short term to keep his teams good and be the undisputed GOAT. Except for his last year in Chicago, MJ was underpaid most of his career, and twenty years later still makes $100mil/year from Nike, so there’s precedent. Russ is at a crossroads, does he want to be a Brees stat machine, or Brady. If it’s the latter, due to the economics of the NFL, he’s taking too much cap room. I’m not going to fault someone for getting paid, but at the QB level, you’re misdirecting, or being obtuse, if you’re blaming the organization for a lack of talent in a position group when your salary is the biggest reason there’s a lack of talent.

    • Alan Harrison

      “Ciara has an estimated net worth of $20 million,
      which is less than that of Russell Wilson. Along with her success and
      achievements from her fruitful music, tv and movie career.” – Sportskeedia. It’s a questionable source, but I’m sure it’s not far off.

      • WestCoastBias79

        When I said married to a billionaire, I was referring to Tom Brady’s wife Giselle, and after googling, overshot the mark. She’s worth only a paltry $400 million, but the point still stands.

        • art thiel

          I’m sure neither couple is clipping coupons.

          The spousal income is immaterial to the football decision.

          • WestCoastBias79

            C’mon Art. Power couple household financial decisions absolutely affect the professional decisions of each person in the couple.

          • art thiel

            There’s lots of lifestyle decisions that com from the football decision, but whether Wilson is making $32M or $35M is not a big deal to them. It’s a bigger deal to the team under the cap.

    • art thiel

      It isn’t Wilson’s job to manage the Seahawks’ salary cap, and QBs besides Brady have won Super Bowls in this era.

      The paths for successful QBs are almost always unique to the man, but it is in human nature to seek patterns and formulas. Wilson can aspire to be like Brady, but the route will be different. He doesn’t have to be Brady or Brees, he just has to be where he maximizes attention (e.g., TD passes) and championships.

      That still can be Seattle.

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      • WestCoastBias79

        No QB has won with Wilson’s cap hit. Nada. The closest was Steve Young in 1994 who accounted for 13.4%. Wilson in 2021 will be pushing 18%. I realize it’s not Wilson’s job to manage the Seahawks cap, but if he wants more organizational control, there it is. Tom Brady has restructured his contract almost annually to keep certain guys. What the NFL should do is create some kind of positional cap, but that’s not going to happen. I want Wilson to stay in Seattle. I want him to win in Seattle, but the numbers are what they are.

        • art thiel

          The Seahawks knew the risk was unprecedented in investing so much in one position, but there was little choice, because Wilson was under no obligation to take less than market (I still think Brady received non-cash compensation; he played for the Pats, y’know?). Carroll looked at it as a challenge. They failed to meet the challenge, in part by a conscious choice to invest less in the O-line than other position groups.

          Wilson taking less money doesn’t make the Seahawks dumber or smarter when it comes to choosing O-linemen.

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  • Husky73

    The NFL has mastered attention. It’s March 2nd and the sports world is focused on the NFL.

    • art thiel

      Zackly true.

    • Archangelo Spumoni

      Mr. 73 and Mr. Art:
      The NFL marketing juggernaut won the Pro Bowl weekend even without a game. Admit it, NFL fans, as millions watched the Madden “pro bowl” game with Snoop, Keyshawn Johnson, DeShaun Watson, and Derrick Henry “playing” Madden against Marshawn, Bubba Wallace (NASCAR), Kyler Murray, and Jamal Adams.

      When Jamal was at the controls, he called a time out and substituted HIMSELF into the game, and got a pick. (This was right about the time when the producer was especially busy on that dump button.)

      Snoop disappeared at least once for a short break but nobody was very surprised at this.

      It was actually hilarious. Jamal intercepted 2 balls, Marshawn broke the leg off his chair after the Jamal’s 2nd pick, and the producer had to hit the dump button about 5,000 times, Snoop was reputed to have used some bad words.

      Positively hilarious, and ONLY the NFL could market this without any shame.

      Here’s Marshawn breaking his chair a Jamal’s pick:
      https://www.republicworld.com/sports-news/other-sports/marshawn-lynch-breaks-chair-after-hyping-up-snoop-doggs-interception-at-pro-bowl-2021.html

  • Kevin Lynch

    Excellent discussion. Very insightful. Russell was incredible in the 5-0 start, almost superhuman. Do five games give you the bully pulpit? If he wishes to be the greatest of all time he will surely not be seen that way in a run-based offense. So, what kind of amazing life can you construct if you use the media to gobble and dominate air ways for self promotion? Your gains through attention-getting could be incredible. But, conversely, something would get left behind, a zero sum game. I think of Ibrahimovic and LeBron. Both say if you have great leadership skills you should use them. You should not leave your communities behind. But bully pulpit is highly debatable. You’re not T-Rex. One must be cautious. Unify; don’t divide. Sports should unify. The best QB’s UNIFY a team.

    • art thiel

      Wilson has unified the Seahawks for nine years. In the era of free agency, I can’t blame any high-achieving pro athlete for wanting to explore whether there’s more elsewhere.

      Yes, there’s risks and casualties in any high-end endeavor. He’s entitled to construct an empire how and where he sees fit. If he’s traded, I doubt he’ll shun Seattle, and I hope Seattle doesn’t shun him. At least after the wound heals.

      • jafabian

        The wound has yet to heal for ARod. If the wheels are in motion to trade Russ how Seattle reacts will depend on how he presents himself. Seattle is still annoyed with ARod but all is forgiven with Junior and Jack Sikma.

        • LarryLurex70

          And Kemp.

          • jafabian

            It’s interesting how ARod is reviled but Kemp, Sikma and Junior are embraced.

          • LarryLurex70

            I don’t recall anyone saying anything negative about Sikma when he left. Of course, I was a teenager at the time, so, I could be wrong. Have to keep in mind that sports talk radio hadn’t arrived in this market yet. But, it burned my ears to hear how Shawn was talked about by the press on his way out a decade after. Especially compared to how Randy Johnson was portrayed locally at the same time on HIS way out. I hated that Shawn was viewed as a villain upon his return to Seattle with Cleveland, whereas Randy was greeted as a conquering hero when he first returned as a visitor. I actually rooted against the Sonics in their first round matchup against Minnesota in ‘98 because of that.

            And, regarding A-Rod, for full disclosure, I’ve actually been a Dodger fan since 1981, and really have honestly never paid attention to the Mariners. I actually didn’t even know until within the last week after Googling Rodriguez for a different reason, that he’d won a batting title as a Mariner. I honestly don’t really have many memories of him as a Mariner, primarily because that’s not the team that I follow. Really, my only memories of him as an M are of him being drafted with the 1st overall pick in ‘93, ahead of the Dodgers at #2, his brief appearances on the ‘95 squad as a teen, and a vague recollection of him leaving for Texas. So, I really don’t know what the perception of him and his relationship with the fans, media and organisation was at the time. I just know he was apparently Public Enemy #1 around here, but I never paid much attention as to why. And, never really cared.

          • Archangelo Spumoni

            ” . . . Dodger fan since 1981″

            Mr. Larry: FERNANDOMANIA!! That whole stretch was crazy fun!

          • Husky73

            Husky73 <—Dodgers fan since 1959. I was tasked to write a paragraph on a famous American, chose Jackie Robinson and was hooked. Visited Dodger Stadium as a graduation present in 1969, and many times thereafter. Met Sharon Robinson about 15 years ago. Hoping to go "down south" for a couple of games this summer, if the world is safe.

          • LarryLurex70

            There’s a statue of him outside Pasadena City Hall.

  • jafabian

    I’m a bit of a fan of at least exploring a trade for Deshaun Watson on the basis that Watson is younger at age 25, was the NFL passing yards leader in 2020, in four seasons has yet to have a passer rating less than 98.0 and has a higher ceiling. Wilson in all probability has reached his ceiling. He’s also at the same age and point in his career that Shawn Kemp wanted to be traded and Kemp has said the reason he wanted to be traded was because he wanted to be the first to break $100 million on his contract and knew he wouldn’t get it after his then current one expired in six years. Wilson’s attention getting moves aren’t entirely new but typically he’s done it when he’s angling for a new contract. Perhaps he’s been talking to the Reign Man?

    I’ve also been wondering what Wilson’s post career plans are, if any. He’s very cognizant about getting his brand out there. He could accomplish the same with his work such as his visit to Children’s Hospital on Tuesdays but is focused on using his agent and social media instead. Also his recent comments on how Pete Carroll has no one within the organization to hold him accountable is odd. Paul Allen set up the Seahawks hierarchy that way. You’d think Wilson would know that but it isn’t unusual for players to not understand how their own organization works. Sad but true.

    • art thiel

      It’s very likely that if the decision is made to trade Wilson, Schneider will be after Watson — younger, taller, cheaper, etc. I think it’s plausible.

      I’d go light on the Kemp analogy — different sport, personalities, CBA, era. But alike in that he was a star who wanted out of town.

      Even Wilson can’t know what his plans will be in 10-15 years, much less you or me. Whatever it is, he wants to accumulate attention and power sufficient to keep all options open.

    • Husky73

      One of the worst jobs in America– Shawn Kemp’s accountant?

      • jafabian

        Pretty sure his nanny was his accountant.

  • Vasili

    One thing to keep in mind about the “attention economy” is that it is easily manipulatable to becoming a win-win-win-win for all parties concerned. Right now, Russell Wilson is the most talked about person in sports; the Seahawks, who got trounced in the “Super Wild Card Round” of the playoffs are the most talked about team; the NFL is still dominating headlines in the sports media landscape one month after the Super Bowl; and all the professional pundits of the NFL network and all other media outlets have a never-ending story that is gold. Everybody wins, even a team that hasn’t won a Super Bowl in eight years, is more talked about than Tom Brady winning his never-to-be-achieved-again seventh Super Bowl triumph, and first with his new team in his 43-year-old “rookie campaign” with said team.

    I don’t think Russell wants to be traded. I don’t think he wants Pete Carroll fired. I think he wants to stop having the crap beat out of him behind our perpetual colander of an offensive line. I think he wants what Tom Brady typically has, and what Patrick Mahomes had until the Big Game LV — time to throw without having to run around for his life.

    Initially, when the instant meme image of Super Sour Bowl Wilson went viral, I thought his chagrin was because of Ciara speaking over him to visit with Goodell. Heck, he was just trying to watch the game. But, then, it was easy to see in the glazed over look in Russ’s eyes the PTSD flashbacks of what he’s been facing his entire career in Seattle: porous pocket protection necessitating Russ’s peerless pirouettes. And how he could not help but come to the conclusion that Patrick Mahomes, the newly anointed GOAT, who only managed to score nine points, came in a distant second in his Russell Wilson making chicken salad out of chicken droppings imitation.

    I don’t care what anybody thinks, but there’s no way Russ would’ve only scored nine points in that game. He’d have probably lost (if it were with the Seahawks crew of this year), but he’d have put up at least 20 points, like he did against the Rams.

    So, yes, Russ and his agent are maximizing the attention economy — and rightfully so. Because in Russell’s mind, if he had a sound pocket to throw from, and a sound scheme to work with, he thinks he’d be the absolute best QB in the league, and perhaps in its history (as he’s often said he aspires to be). And, according to the attention he’s commanding in this sports media attention economy, he clearly is the best.

    Another excellent article, Art. Thanks for all the amazing thinking and writing you’ve been sharing with us for so many years now, both with SportsPressNW, and the PI previously. I’ve been reading you since I was in the 8th grade in ’87, and you’ve been required reading ever since!

  • dharmabruce

    Art, thank you, what an erudite article.

    I guess the most common perspective with social media creating an incredibly vast market of speech is that speech is cheap, temporary. But commonly our speech on the Internet is available forever. What can you say that you’d stand behind forever? So for some of us, the affect of the attention economy is to silence our voices.

    Commenting effectively in public, like on sports blogs like this, is an incredibly high bar. As a middle aged adult with subconscious biases that my internal censor regularly misses, I almost can’t say anything without subtly hurting someone or a group of people. One of my last comments was quite regrettable in this regard.

    As a zen student I deeply value silence, but often the moment calls for speech, and I can’t summon the skill to say something worthy of being forever chiseled in stone. I have a lot to learn. Mad props to you, Russell Wilson, and some others that follow this blog for your demonstrable skills.