Russell Wilson is popping up everywhere along the West Coast.
At least it seemed like it flying to and from L.A. last weekend. I wore my No. 3 Russell Wilson Seahawks jersey on Alaska Airlines flights coming and going, in part so I could board early with first class. (It’s a perk enabled by Wilson’s joint promotion with Alaska.) I saw many other “Wilsons” at Sea-Tac, on the plane, and at L.A. International Airport.
The locals down there surprised me. My jersey drew smiles and thumbs-up everywhere – grocery stores, restaurants, ambling the streets around West Hollywood, at The Grove shopping park.
While we ate at Umami Burger, a family with a 10-year-old boy was seated nearby. The boy wore a Colin Kaepernick 49ers jersey.
“Uh-oh, you can’t sit by me,” I teased. The kid looked at my jersey and shot me a nasty look that belied his age. He shook his head and moved to the opposite side of his table.
Sadly, L.A. residents have been without an NFL team since the Rams left for St. Louis in 1995. Many seem to have embraced the 49ers as their team. But many like the Seahawks, too, unless all those thumbs-ups came from Seattle travelers.
Standing by the gate at LAX for my Monday flight home, a few guys wearing 49ers jerseys walked off a jet from Seattle. They must have witnessed the ‘Hawks 23-17 win, I figured, because they looked solemn and avoided eye contact when they saw my Wilson jersey.
Even more than during the flight down, airport strangers smiled at me and said things like, “Nice game, huh?”
Seahawks Fever has spread to faraway Los Angeles. And we’re in the Super Bowl!