NFL quarterback Russell Wilson has spent his career as one of the top quarterbacks in the NFL, having played for the Seattle Seahawks since the team drafted him in 2012. But his positive impact off the field has been even more impressive—and just as consistent.
Recently Wilson was named the 2022 Bart Starr Award winner, an award created to “honor the NFL player who best exemplifies outstanding character and leadership in the home, on the field, and in the community.”
The star quarterback will receive the award at the annual Athletes in Action Super Bowl Breakfast in February, an event that sells out each year. The Bart Starr Award is one of two individual awards in the NFL selected by the players.
Wilson’s integrity and charitable work has been notable throughout his career. Since his rookie season, he has visited the Seattle Children’s hospital every Tuesday, spreading joy to over 600 pediatric patients to date. At the height of the pandemic, Wilson and his wife, Ciara, donated one million meals to families in need in the Seattle area. Recently, their foundation presented a check of $2.7 million to Immuno heroes, money that will provide life-saving immunotherapy treatment for pediatric cancer. Wilson has also helped raise $10 million for Strong Against Cancer, a Seattle fundraising initiative
“My dad always told me, ‘it’s the hashmark of significance that you can leave on a place’…I believe that God’s given me so much ability but also so much opportunity to serve, and I just thank God every day I get to serve and to give back and to help. And that’s what’s been probably the coolest part of the journey is just to be able to make a difference for people,” Wilson said Sunday following the donation.
Wilson has already produced one of the most prolific careers by any quarterback in NFL history, yet it’s his faith that remains his highest priority. Wilson has been outspoken about his relationship with Jesus since the beginning, unapologetically witnessing to his peers and the watching world. His Twitter bio simply reads, “I want to Love like Jesus!” It is apparent that this sentiment is not just mere talk for Wilson as he puts his faith into practice year-in and year-out.
The Super Bowl Breakfast will feature an awards ceremony and an inspirational message. The organizers of the event see it as an opportunity for many influential people in and around the NFL to hear the Christian message.
Director of the Super Bowl Breakfast Terry Bortz said of the event a few years ago, “we’ll attract people who maybe never will attend church and really aren’t interested in the spiritual things…they’ll come because they’re going to see their heroes up on the stage and they’re going to hear stories that they would never hear anywhere else. It’s just been amazing to me what God does every year.”
This award is not the first time Russell Wilson has been recognized for his character in his career. In 2020, he was named the Walter Payton Man of the Year. That prestigious award honors players for their volunteer and charitable endeavors as well as excellence on the field. That same year he was awarded the Vince Lombardi Cancer Foundation Award of Excellence for his work to fund cancer research. The NFL’s official page on Wilson winning the award reads: “No player has consistently done more good in the community, day in and day out, than Russell. The information shared in this nomination is evidence of the breadth and scope of Russell’s commitment to affecting positive change in the community.”