Chasing baseball makes no sense for Seahawks QB Russell Wilson

Russell Wilson is the star quarterback of a Super Bowl-winning franchise, so it’s understandable that just about anything he says or does is noteworthy around these parts. But with that being said, can we please stop talking about Wilson as a two-sport athlete as if that’s something that might actually happen?

Once again, Wilson mentioned baseball, which of course means another round of debating whether or not the former Colorado Rockies farmhand and current Seattle Seahawks QB would actually attempt to juggle two sports professionally.

HBO’s “Real Sports” is airing an interview with Wilson next week, and in a preview released over the weekend, Wilson tells host Bryant Gumbel: “I never want to kill the dream of playing two sports. I would honestly play two sports.”

Wilson recently made another spring-training appearance with the Texas Rangers, the Major League Baseball franchise that currently holds his rights, and when Gumbel asked Wilson what is stopping him from playing two sports, Wilson replied, “I don’t know. I may push the envelope a little bit one of these days.”

It should be noted that Wilson laughed when he said he might “push the envelope” one of these days.

If those comments have you worried as a Seahawks fan, they shouldn’t. Wilson, who spent two seasons playing minor-league baseball in 2010 and 2011, very well might believe he can succeed in baseball — he’s an incredibly gifted athlete and one of the most driven people you’ll ever meet, making it at least feasible that he could climb the minor-league ranks if he were to give up football and focus solely on baseball — but Wilson is also smart enough to know how lucrative his future is in the NFL.

Wilson isn’t going to walk away from football. And at age 26 and four years removed from baseball, he is in no position to actually compete for a major-league roster spot while splitting time between two sports, something an NFL team isn’t going let its franchise quarterback do anyway.

It’s one thing for a running back like Bo Jackson or defensive back like Deion Sanders to juggle two sports, but the demands put on a quarterback make it pretty much impossible to add a second job in the offseason. Right now Wilson is leading player workouts in Hawaii, something he organized in Southern California the previous two years. A player as driven as Mr. “No Time For Sleep,” a guy who uses his connections with Alaska Airlines to fly dozens of teammates to Hawaii so they can work out before offseason practice begins, that guy isn’t going to be OK with going into an NFL season having not prepared as thoroughly as possible.

Heck, I’d love to be proven wrong. It would be absolutely fascinating to see one of the NFL’s best quarterbacks attempt something as unusual and difficult as juggling a second sport while playing the most important position in his current one. I just don’t see how it possibly makes sense.

If Wilson truly doesn’t care about money — and if that’s the case, why is he on my TV so often pitching American Family Insurance, Microsoft, Alaska Airlines, Braun, Duracell, etc.? — then maybe he would consider giving up football at some point to give baseball one last chance. But unless Wilson is willing to walk away from nine-figure career earnings, and do so soon, chasing baseball makes no sense.

Let’s just say for a second Wilson decided to give baseball another try. Again, he’s 26 years old and hasn’t played organized baseball since 2011. Even more significant, he wasn’t much of a hitter back when he was playing baseball on a daily basis. In 2011, while playing for the Rockies’ Class A affiliate in Asheville, North Carolina, Wilson posted a .228 batting average and struck out 82 times in 193 at-bats. Again, that was four years ago. In A ball.

Pointing that out isn’t meant as a shot at Wilson. He’s one of the NFL’s best quarterbacks, and by every account a great person who does wonderful things in the community. He just wasn’t much of a hitter four years ago, and there’s not a lot of evidence in the history of baseball to suggest that a four-year layoff would improve his skills at the plate. Again, he’s athletic and driven enough that he might get better if baseball were a full-time pursuit, but why in the world would someone with such a bright future in football give that all up to ride buses in the minor leagues with the hope of maybe being a major leaguer by the time he’s 29 or 30?

So why is Wilson even talking about this?

Most likely it’s because he still loves baseball and the dreamer in him believes he could succeed in that sport, and since Wilson was just at spring training, Gumbel figured it was a question worth asking. Or maybe Wilson and his people think he can gain some leverage in contract negotiations with Seattle by floating the idea of playing another sport — though Seahawks general manager John Schneider and coach Pete Carroll probably know how to find Wilson’s minor-league stats on the internet, too.

Whatever the motivation for Wilson talking about two sports, the question of whether he could succeed in professional baseball if he were to focus on just that sport makes for an interesting debate.

A debate that most likely never will be settled.

Herald Columnist John Boyle: jboyle@heraldnet.com

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