Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson was the commencement speaker at the University of Wisconsin last weekend, and Wilson was apparently his usual smiley and cheery self.
Unless you ask some people associated with North Carolina State University. They think Wilson fudged the truth when speaking to graduates of Wisconsin, where Wilson played his final year of college football. He played football and baseball for three years at North Carolina State before transferring.
As explained in a CBSSports.com column Monday by Will Brinson, Wilson told stories of his baseball and football careers and his transfer from NC State during his speech and discussed how then-football coach Tom O’Brien and baseball coach Elliott Avent handled his situation. One of the all-time NFL underdog stories, Wilson talked about being counted out and bouncing back — all things he’s done, and all things that play well in a commencement setting.
Those things just didn’t play well with everyone. Wilson’s former NC State teammate, Kalani Heppe, wrote on Facebook Sunday, “80 percent of the s–t Russell said in his speech didn’t even happen.”
Heppe called Wilson a “me” player, among other colorful things. The headline of Brinson’s column calls Wilson’s memory “conveniently fuzzy.” The full text of Wilson’s speech is here.
To make a long story a little shorter, Wilson had one year of eligibility left and Mike Glennon had two. O’Brien basically had to choose one quarterback, and he chose the one who hadn’t already been drafted by a Major League Baseball team and the one who had two seasons left.
Wilson went to Wisconsin and played well, and later won a Super Bowl with the Seahawks. O’Brien eventually got fired. But how it all went down may not have matched the way Wilson explained it in his commencement speech as he talked about overcoming adversity and provided other words of inspiration.
As for what the truth is, we may never know. Joe Giglio of the Raleigh News & Observer asked O’Brien for a response to Wilson’s speech, and O’Brien texted, “Good for him.” Wilson keeps winning and has a track record of believing what he says, even if it seems a little outrageous, so it probably won’t be long before he’s speaking in public again.