Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson‘s tenure with the team isn’t off to the electric start many expected. He has completed just 59% of his passes for 743 yards, 2 touchdowns and 1 interception through three games. Although the Broncos are 2-1, the offense hasn’t found much rhythm early in the season.
Wilson’s lackluster play in Week 3 against the San Francisco 49ers was the subject of a joke by former New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning during ESPN’s Monday Night Football ManningCast. Manning said Denver should’ve “paid that punter [Corliss Waitman] $235 million instead of Russell,” referring to the $245 million contract extension the Broncos gave Wilson earlier this month. It quickly became a viral clip on social media.
“They should’ve paid that punter $235 million instead of Russell [Wilson].” @EliManning went there 😅 pic.twitter.com/ridC2MdRji
— ESPN (@espn) September 27, 2022
Wilson heard Manning’s barb and returned with one of his own Wednesday. He referenced his head-to-head record against Manning at an afternoon news conference.
“Chad Powers? I’m 3-0 against Chad Powers.”
😅, @DangeRussWilson pic.twitter.com/SQKMtT8eWH
— Denver Broncos (@Broncos) September 28, 2022
For those not familiar, “Chad Powers” is the alias Manning used when he disguised himself as a walk-on at a Penn State Nittany Lions football tryout. Wilson’s memory of his games against Chad Powers was accurate — he defeated Manning and his Giants in 2013, 2014 and 2017.
On Tuesday, Manning said that the he was not trying to be “critical” in his comments toward Wilson.
“I never try to take a real shot at somebody. I think that was obviously a very outrageous joke — because a punter had 10 punts. Nothing against Russell. He’s going to do great,” Manning told Front Office Sports.
In Denver’s Week 3 game against the 49ers, the offense scored nine points and punted the ball 10 times. Waitman had a big day, averaging 47.6 gross yards per punt and landing six kicks inside the 49ers’ 20-yard line. Two of his punts landed inside the 5-yard line, one leading to a Broncos safety that swung momentum. Wilson threw for 184 yards and zero touchdowns, and he had a QBR of 32.9 in Sunday’s win.
Wilson and the Broncos offense look to get things going in Week 4 against their AFC West division rival, the Las Vegas Raiders.