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Take 2

A different spin on sports by The Seattle Times staff and readers.

December 17, 2013 at 11:30 PM

Russell Wilson, Alaska Airlines: All aboard Seahawk’s marketing train

Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, shown leaving the field after a victory over the New York Giants on Sunday, is big on and off the field.  Seattle Times staff photo Russell Wilson

Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, shown leaving the field after a victory over the New York Giants on Sunday, is big on and off the field. (Photo by John Lok / The Seattle Times)

Russell Wilson seems to be everywhere – on and off the football field.

And the Seahawk quarterback’s latest advertising/promotional venture, as a spokesman with Alaska Airlines, can get you priority boarding.

Passengers wearing Wilson’s No. 3 Seahawks jersey can board early through the end of the football season flying out of Seattle on Alaska, according to TMZ and KING-5.

The Seattle-based airline announced a marketing partnership with Wilson on Tuesday. Alaska said the second-year NFL player would appear at events, take part in marketing activities and support youth and education programs.

This shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone watching the Wilson phenomenon spreading from the football field to to radio, TV and the Web. He’s also a spokesman for American Family Insurance (“Ask me about my pro football dreams!”), does ads for Levis, and an auto dealership. He even bet 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick an eyebrow in a Madden NFL 25 video game ad.

In his spare time, Wilson has led the Seahawks to the best record in the NFC.

The Wall Street Journal reports that one of Wilson’s youth programs with Alaska Airlines will be the Russell Wilson Passing Academy, which provides inner-city and underprivileged youths an opportunity to attend football camp.

Wilson is also well-known for regular visits to Children’s Hospital. The Journal reported that Alaska Airlines will donate 100,000 miles to Children’s Hospital for each touchdown pass Wilson throws or touchdown he scores through the rest of this season.

Wilson isn’t the only Seahawks player we’ve been hearing and seeing more from off the field. Defensive back Richard Sherman has appeared in several ads, including one for CenturyLink and a local auto dealership. And who hasn’t chuckled (or grimaced) watching running back Marshawn Lynch carrying a toilet and breaking through a wall to get us to “Stop freakin’, call Beacon!”

What’s next, Pete Carroll doing a chewing gum commercial?

Read Jayson Jenks, one of our Seahawks reporters, excellent story in Wednesday’s Seattle Times about the efforts by two of the team’s young players, Doug Baldwin and Earl Thomas, to brand themselves.

Brace yourself for more – a lot more – of Russell Wilson, though. The guy has broad appeal that transcends sports. You don’t have to be a Seahawks fan to like this guy.

It reminds me of – and I’m probably dating myself by saying this – a young Ken Griffey Jr. The Kid was an enormously popular spokesman for Nike “(Hit it here, Junior!”), Pepsi and video games whose laidback-but-still-hip persona made him a marketing sensation in the 1990s. Jay Buhner  (auto dealership)Edgar Martinez (hardware: It’s a light bat!”), Randy Johnson (hardware),  Jamie Moyer (auto glass) also became popular local pitchmen, and Buhner still does pick-up commericials.

So think of Wilson and his Seahawks wingmen as the this millennium’s version of the Griffey and the Mariners. Young, popular and charismatic.

Brace yourself  for more of Russell. And don’t forget your No. 3 jersey on the way to Sea-Tac.

Want to be a reader contributor to The Seattle Times’ Take 2 blog? Email your original, previously unpublished work or proposal to Sports Editor Don Shelton at dshelton@seattletimes.com or sports@seattletimes.com. Not all submissions can be published. The Times reserves the right to edit and publish any submissions online and/or in print.

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