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Fehoko: Steelers ‘Love’ Russell Wilson as a Teammate

Steelers quarterback Ruseell Wilson is a great teammate, according to Pittsburgh Steelers defensive tackle Breiden Fehoko.

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Pittsburgh Steelers QB Russell Wilson

Every step of the way this offseason, Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Russell Wilson has drawn doubt after signing with the team. For example, former NFL linebacker and Pittsburgh native LaVar Arrington blasted Wilson a few weeks before he even signed with the Steelers in March. He said Wilson’s “soft” and wouldn’t be a fit in the Steel City.

“I just don’t think his personality is a conducive personality for the Pittsburgh way,” Arrington said on the Fox Sports’ 2 Pros & A Cup of Joe show. “He’s soft.”

Arrington expressed that Wilson’s flashy style of suits wouldn’t be a fit in the Pittsburgh market.

“Although the league is a fashionable place anymore. I get it. Guys dress and wear these interesting outfits and all that stuff. I’m just saying some of that stuff doesn’t fly in certain markets,” Arrington said.

Wilson married famous singer-songwriter, dancer, model and actress, Ciara, in 2016. He’s also done some acting, appearing in the 2015 film Entourage. Arrington just doesn’t think he has the same grit as he once did. He thinks he went Hollywood.

Colin Cowherd of FS1 has similar concerns. He just doesn’t think Wilson has Pittsburgh-type of vibes.

“You take Russell Wilson, Ciara, Pittsburgh. I’m just fascinated to watch it. He’s not really on-brand. Big Ben could have drama, but Big Ben kinda felt like Pittsburgh. He had the scruff beard, the motorcycle,” Cowherd said on The Herd. “I think it could go sideways. I think it could be excellent.”

Dianna Russini, of The Athletic, who was a guest on Cowherd’s show added, “When I think of who Mike Tomlin is, what he’s about… and how he conducts his team, and what that locker room looks like. And then I think of Russell? They are just very different people.”

Pittsburgh Steelers Free Agent Target QB Russell Wilson

Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson (3) scrambles against the Minnesota Vikings during the first half on an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 19, 2023, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)

Wilson had a bad rap in Denver and Seattle for lacking leadership and not being a good teammate. Nothing of such has been showcased in Pittsburgh so far, however.

Wilson sat next to Steelers offensive lineman Spencer Anderson at the Penguins game last month. Anderson was a seventh-round pick out of Maryland last year and is not a marquee name on the roster. That action by Wilson is a far cry from the reports out of Denver that he was out of touch and didn’t relate with anyone in the locker room.

Wilson also reportedly has an incredible work ethic. Mark Kaboly of The Athletic said it rivals former Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown’s.

“One team source said the Steelers haven’t seen somebody work as hard as Wilson at his craft since the early days of Antonio Brown, who was notorious for the effort he put into his game to become the best wide receiver in the league for a span of more than five years,” Kaboly wrote.

And it seems that has trickled into a few teammates’ minds, too. Wilson is regarded very favorably among his teammates, and Breiden Fehoko sung his praises on Saturday.

“Dude, I love Russ,” Fohoko said on 92.7 FM. “And he does it for everybody – whether you’re a guy that’s new here, whether you’re a guy that’s been here,” Fohoko said. “Every new person that’s come through that locker room, I’ve seen Russ go up to them and introduce himself. ‘Hey, I’m Russell Wilson,’ like, I know who you are, bro! You’re Russell Wilson. For the last month and a half I’ve been here and been around him, he’s only shown genuine respect,” Fohoko said. “He’s been the same way every time, so it’s not a switch-up. What you see is what you get. The guy is genuine. … As long as he wins us games, everbody’s going to continue to love him here.”

Steelers tight end Pat Freiermuth gave Wilson props for organizing an offseason workout in San Diego. Freiermuth, Calvin Austin III and Van Jefferson attended the workout.

“That was big time,” Freiermuth told Teresa Varley of Steelers.com. “He invited us to San Diego and a couple of us went there and got to work out and run routes and get to know each other. That’s big. The relationship on the field is big but building that off field is a big thing. It’s that trust you can bring over to the football field.”

Wilson’s legacy certainly took a big hit in Denver. His play was not up to par with the hefty salary that Denver was dishing out, but his image as a locker room leader was also something that was brought into question during the end of tenure in Seattle and into his stay in Denver.  Multiple sources told Alan Saunders of Steelers Now that by the end of the Wilson’s tenure in Denver, the relationship with Broncos head coach Sean Payton had become toxic.

But was all of that Wilson’s fault, or was he just a part of a few bad situations? In conversations with several sources close to the Broncos and former teammates of Wilson’s, no one was willing to offer a cogent criticism of the 35-year-old quarterback’s behavior.

“All of that is overblown,” one Broncos source told Steelers Now. “He’s a great guy and great in the locker room.”

Another league source said that while the personalities between Payton and Wilson were “oil and water,” it was more of a bad fit between the two than any specific fault of one or the other. A player who had been a younger teammate of Wilson’s in Seattle credited his leadership and mentorship during his time there.