Rachel Belle’s incredibly awkward interview with Russell Wilson

Mar 10, 2022, 2:01 PM | Updated: Mar 11, 2022, 6:36 am
Russell Wilson...
Rachel Belle and Russell Wilson in 2015.

In July of 2015, Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson had just invested in a new product called “Eat The Ball.” An Austrian company was selling bread in the shape of various sports balls and Wilson was the proud new spokesperson.

“Eat The Ball is a new generation of bread, bread product, that’s about the size of a sandwich bun in the shape of footballs, basketballs, soccer balls, hockey pucks, volleyballs,” said Dale Rossi, an Eat The Ball spokesperson.

I was invited to the Virginia Mason Athletic Center, the Seahawks’ practice facility in Renton, and was given a five-minute interview with Russell Wilson. I was told I could ask him anything, as long as it wasn’t about his contract, but they’d appreciate if I asked about Eat The Ball. So I did.

“I think the really cool thing about the ball, … it’s in the shape of a ball hence the Eat The Ball,” Wilson said. “Also, you have the idea of the education part behind it, too. So we have an Earth ball, looks like the shape of a globe. It comes in, obviously, the seven different continents. So the goal was to get Eat The Ball not just at tailgating parties and not just in stadiums all across the county and the world, but also in schools.”

“Public schools, private schools,” he continued. “So when kids go grab their piece of bread, now they have an Earth ball where they get to see the seven continents and think about, OK, what continent is this? What place do I want to go in this continent and have discussions with their table they’re sitting at. It’s really cool, I think, and that’s what’s going to be lasting.”

I asked Wilson if he thought the name of the product might evoke some laughter.

“Yeah! I think it’s been a play on words,” he said. “I think that it’s a cute little way to have some fun with it, too. For kids, you know, in terms of the idea of eating the ball, the athletic ball, the football. But also there is some adult fun with it, I guess. People are going to joke around. But I think the idea of there’s one ball, one game, that’s what it is. We only have one chance on this Earth to really have sustainability and I think that what we’re doing with the idea of full molds on these breaded balls makes a huge difference.”

The molds he’s referring to is the patented way the bread is cooked. Instead of being baked, it goes through a fermentation process.

Less than a couple of weeks before before my 2015 interview, a video of Wilson went viral. During an interview at Rock Church in San Diego, he shared that he and [then girlfriend, now wife] Ciara were abstaining from having sex before getting married. As a reporter, I felt it was the most logical thing to ask him about, but it got real awkward, real fast. I asked him if he regretted publicly speaking about his sex life, or lack there of.

“Well, you went from the Eat The Ball to this … uh, I don’t know how that happened,” Wilson said. “But no, I don’t. I don’t regret … no. I’m a blessed man. I’m very, very grateful.”

Wilson looked around the room desperately as the PR people glared at me. I was the only non-sports reporter in the room and the only reporter who asked this seemingly obvious, very timely question, and I was confused by everyone’s reaction.

Next, I asked him about Future, Ciara’s ex and the father of her then-infant son. Future had just done an interview with The Breakfast Club, a syndicated morning radio show, after photos of Wilson pushing his son in a stroller were printed in a magazine.

“Of course I wouldn’t want someone to push my son,” Future told The Breakfast Club. “That’s the number one rule. If I was a kid and my mama had a dude pushing me, I would have jumped out the stroller and slapped him! You never do that in our community. You don’t even bring a man around your son. You’ve known this dude for a few months and you’re bringing him around your kid? Who does that? Nobody does that.”

I asked Wilson for his reaction.

“I don’t pay attention to all that,” he replied.

I asked him if he was someone who grew up aspiring to rise to fame, since he seemed to like the red carpet.

“Yeah, you know, I always say dress for the job you want and not the job you got. So, um, I’m very, very blessed, you know, and I’m grateful for all the opportunities I get to have,” Wilson said, stumbling over his words a bit, his mouth audibly dry. “Obviously going to the ESPYs, but also being the host of the Nickelodeon Kids Choice Sports Awards, that was one of the coolest things I’ve ever done. So, you know, I’m grateful. I’m very, very grateful.”

After the interview, a thick cloud of awkwardness hovered over the room, but I asked if we could take a photo together, knowing my colleagues would never forgive me if I didn’t. That photo is what you see at the top of this page.

Good luck in Denver, Russell Wilson — thank you for giving little old me the honor of making you so incredibly nervous.

Listen to Rachel Belle’s James Beard Award nominated podcast, “Your Last Meal.” Follow @yourlastmealpodcast on Instagram!

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Rachel Belle’s incredibly awkward interview with Russell Wilson