Seven months back, we told you about a story that may not be true, but had been spreading across the Internet. The May 13 Seattleland column, headlined “About Those Russell Wilson Divorce Rumors . . . ”, related gossip about an extramarital affair that supposedly caused the 26-year-old Seahawks star quarterback to split from his wife of two years, Ashton Meem Wilson, 26.
As we noted then, it was off-the-wall speculation, and the rumor seemed to be dying a deserved death. Then an odd thing happened. Without being asked, Wilson’s former teammate, receiver Golden Tate, now with the Detroit Lions, publicly stepped forward and denied he’d had an affair with Wilson’s wife.
“I strongly advise the ignorant folks blowing this situation up and spreading this rumors [sic] to shut the hell up,” Tate said in a series of comments on Twitter. “Go watch the nba playoffs.”
Rather than tamp down the fire, Tate’s tweets stoked it. Newspapers and websites picked up on the denial, effectively spreading the Golden-Ashton rumor further. As a popular Seahawks website observed, “Maybe Tate is denying the allegations about sleeping with Ashton because he wants to defend his reputation—maybe [the allegations] actually happened.”
Wilson and Meem were silent about the claim, but Tate’s girlfriend Elise Pollard joined Golden in publicly refuting it. She also tracked down Internet trolls. Just a few weeks ago she responded to a commenter who brought up the divorce rumor and called Ashton a bitch on Pollard’s Instagram account. Responding on the Instagram account of the “pathetic gossiper,” Pollard claimed Ashton was her best friend and said the troll’s comment made her sick. The rumor “was made up by a blogger. Golden, Russell, Ashton and I know how stupid it is . . . ”, she said, adding that Golden was or is planning to sue the unnamed website, and the troll might now be included in the lawsuit, too.
I know this, having read these details on Deadspin, along with a quarter-million other visitors, including hundreds who left comments. It’s further indication of how denying a rumor gives it new life. Even our May column about the denials continues to haunt Seattle Weekly’s “Now Trending” box, rising to #1 almost every weekend since the NFL season began. For anyone Googling “Ashton Meem” or “Russell Wilson Divorce,” the column pops up on the first page.
If the story eventually dies down, it may only be due to the rise of yet another Russell Wilson rumor. It too involves a Detroit Lions player. But rather than deny the rumor on Twitter, tight end Joseph Fauria spread it on Twitter.
His current girlfriend, Erika Hammond, was cheating on him with Wilson, Fauria indicated. “Hey @DangeRussellWilson enjoy her @ErikaAnnHammond. She had me thinking she was a loyal GF. I almost feel you,” he tweeted last week.
There were no further details, and no claim of sex. No problem. “It appears to be a declaration by Fauria that Seahawks’ QB Russell Wilson was doing the two-humped camel with his girlfriend,” deduced SportsGrid.com. “Their predicament is just one of the love triangles recently to hit the NFL,” noted the Chicago Sun-Times network, referring in part to free agent Brennan Clay’s recent accusation that Dallas Cowboys star DeMarco Murray was sleeping with his wife. (On Twitter, Clay published sext messages between the two, and has now filed for divorce). TheBigLead.com added that “Maybe the most interesting part of all this (depending on your definition of ‘interesting’) is that Fauria is now teammates with Golden Tate. You may have heard some rumors about Tate and Wilson and Tate’s wife that surfaced after Tate left Seattle.”
Yet the next morning, Fauria denied his own accusation, generating even more headlines. He deleted the tweet and posted a new one: “I apologize for what I said last night. I make mistakes. I didn’t have all the facts & emotions got the best of me.”
What led to the accusation? No one seems to want to explain. Fauria hasn’t commented further, and Wilson and Hammond have said nothing. They’re apparently aware that in such cases, silence trumps denial and sends rumors to an early grave.
Curious, this week I Googled “Russell Wilson Divorce.” The first story that came up was a P-I piece about the divorce. The third was the Weekly column about the Golden-Ashton rumor.
The second story, from Classicalite.com, was headlined “After Russell Wilson Ashton Meem Divorce and Joseph Fauria Feud, Seahawk Accused of Girl Stealing.”
The story rolled both tales into one, noting Tate was blamed in the first incident and “Now, the tables have turned and Wilson is the one being accused of alleged girl-stealing.” Even if Fauria regretted his tweet, the story concluded, “the words were said and the damage was done. There must be something about the Super Bowl Ring wearing Seahawk that attracts feuding over women.”
The story was published Saturday, sounding as if this had just happened. I’m no expert. But if the first rumor is any indication, it shouldn’t be long until this one becomes breaking news.
Rick Anderson writes about sex, crime, money, and politics, which tend to be the same thing. His latest book is Floating Feet: Irregular Dispatches From the Emerald City.