The Russell Wilson Phish Connection

How NFL fans learned to embrace a jam-band staple

Russell Wilson; Trey Anastasio
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images;Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images
Russell Wilson; Trey Anastasio
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Earlier this summer, during a tour stop in George, Washington, Trey Anastasio had a request for his fans. At the start of the Seattle Seahawks season, he envisioned Phish fans chanting the opening notes of "Wilson" – a collective shout in-between Anastasio's signature opening riffs – whenever quarterback Russell Wilson entered the huddle. While it seemed like a joke at first, his request has slowly caught on over the season's first 14 weeks. And the media has taken notice, too: On December 31st, NFL Films will premiere a new documentary about this odd phenomenon, simply titled Wiiil-sooon!

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"I'd been told Trey was a football fan – him and [drummer] Jon [Fishman]," says NFL Films' producer Chris Weaver, who conceived of exploring this odd matchup. "They joked, 'We've always wanted to come up with a sports anthem – Queen has the market cornered with We Will Rock You.' [Trey] added a lot of positive things about Russell Wilson. . . but I think it had as much to do with the fans. NFL Films Presents was the natural landing spot for this unexpected collision between Phish and the Seahawks."

 

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Earlier this week, NFL Films traveled to Seattle and spent time capturing Seahawks fans doing the "Wilson" chant on Monday Night Football. They were so loud that ESPN announcer Mike Tirico felt the need to explain things to his booth partner (Jon Gruden) and the viewers at home. Weaver adds that the Seahawks' production team has been playing the track since the end of pre-season. "And ultimately, [the documentary] is about the fans," Weaver says. "It's about how they fuel the performance of the band. The fans wanted this chant and the band loves that – they got a kick out of it."