Russell Wilson’s natural ability to immortalize himself in memes is Hall of Fame worthy. He has the viral touch, just not in the way mainstream viewers would prefer it. Everything his tryhard persona touches inspires the wrath of the internet, mashups — and gets clicks. Sometimes it’s unfair. On certain occasions though, it feels like the internet led to the demise of someone he was close to and he’s made it his life’s mission to destroy it “from the inside” since then.
Mission partially accomplished. These days, Russ is a bigger social media deterrent than Jackson Mahomes. Don’t do TikTok, kids. The latest entry in the viral Russ archives stems from Subway’s Vault series on sandwiches named after NFL stars. The ad features Russ standing in a model house somewhere in a void beyond space and time and discussing his spicy new Subway “Dangerwich” — *audible groan* — with someone who’s outside the frame. That’s the generous interpretation.
The alternative possibility is that this wasn’t even a Subway ad, but Wilson’s consciousness disassociating from our reality after that loss to Seattle in Week 1. Halfway through his Subway ad, I expected the camera to pan around to the cashier’s counter at a fast-food joint as a confused employee informs him that he’s actually at Wendy’s.
His entire disposition and menacing tone distract from the sandwich. I think Russ is pitching me on the sandwich, but I can’t tell if he’s also delivering a threat through subtext. The barefaced look adds to the uncomfortableness. Russ’ clean-shaven look is probably why he didn’t become a mainstay in Yankee spring training. Who’s idea was it to have him deliver a monologue about a sandwich in a Belichick-sized hoodie? Russ looks like he was recently committed and spends his lunchtime talking to people who won’t listen about the sandwich he named after himself. The original video has already been from Russ’ official TikTok, but probably so it wouldn’t get confused for a viral marketing campaign for a surprise season 3 of Netflix’s Mindhunters.
If you want high-brow sandwich content, Wendy’s has been putting on a masterclass on how to utilize athletes to promote your products. Reggie Miller exercising his squatter’s rights inside a Wendy’s during March Madness and Reggie Bush’s exuberance over getting his Wendy’s Pretzel Bacon Pub Cheeseburger sandwich back (for a limited time only) is in stark contrast to Russ’ sandwich content. On and off the field, watching Russ has never been more cringeworthy. How can he carry a franchise deep into January when he can’t even carry a Subway ad anymore? That question says a lot about the state of his brand considering who the last Subway guy was.
The idea of Danger-Russ used to be a fun, corny play on words that translated to his risky brand of football. And yet, I can’t stop watching. It’s almost hypnotic how bad it is. At this point, I’m convinced painful cringe-worthiness is his goal. In the grand scheme, Russ may be an auteur and method-acting savant who lives his roles in the same vein as Sacha Baron Cohen. He probably set up a tripod, a Ring Light, and just let her rip. If Russ intends to sabotage the viral internet discourse, he’s succeeding. This is his most insidious attempt yet to punish us all for consuming media influencer content.