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Insider Says Sean Payton Was Toxic in Denver, Not Russell Wilson

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Pittsburgh Steelers QB Russell Wilson

Former Denver Broncos offensive lineman Mark Schlereth recently bashed Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Russell Wilson for not being accountable for his downfall in Denver. He also claimed that Wilson had toxic positivity surrounding him.

Wilson’s two-year tenure in Denver was an absolute disaster. But if anyone was toxic, it was Sean Payton.

“One thing that always struck a cord with me about Russell Wilson’s tenure in Denver was Sean Payton went out of his way to make things difficult with their relationship,” Ray Fittipaldo of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette said during an appearance on 93.7 The Fan on Friday. “Really putting a Super Bowl-winning veteran quarterback in places that were just odd for me to see him. The way he talked about him in the media. His body language in games, the yelling on the sidelines. You don’t see that every day.”

One veteran AFC personnel executive even told Jeremy Fowler of ESPN that Payton never liked Wilson from Day 1.

“Sean never liked him as the guy from Day 1 and went out of his way to make that known,” the source said.

Payton ripped into Wilson on the sideline during a game in Detroit this past season. It seemed more personal than a coach just letting a player have it.

“Sean Payton does have a reputation in the NFL of being a guy who’s difficult to deal with. So that’s another reason I want to give Russell the benefit of the doubt with the Steelers,” Fittipaldo said. “Sometimes just getting away from a toxic coach can be a good thing. Maybe you get into a more positive situation. Maybe you can get back to where you were in Seattle. … That whole Sean Payton thing always struck me as odd, the way he treated Russell Wilson.”

Wilson has been nothing but a great teammate in Pittsburgh. Wilson revealed at OTAs that he and Justin Fields took the offensive linemen out to dinner at the Capital Grille in downtown Pittsburgh to build camaraderie. It’s one of many examples this offseason that Wilson has stepped up as a leader.

“It’s been cool. These guys are so focused,” Wilson said. “They work their butts off in the weight room, on the field, in the film room. Just to be able to share life experiences with one another as much as we can. It’s been hectic, it’s been busy. The more we spend time together, the better. It was a good dinner for sure.”

The reports out of Denver that Wilson was out of touch and an elitist have been unfounded.