Dear Russell Wilson,
That was the greatest game I’ve ever seen you play as a quarterback. You were special from start to finish. I watched you when you were on the field, and I watched you when you were on the sidelines. You were special.
As Deshaun Watson was on the other side making his case to be Rookie of the Year, you were answering with your play – every single play. Yes, we all feel a bit of the Force coming from Deshaun, but he ain’t a Jedi yet. Russell, you’re a Jedi.
I still remember the first day that I met you back in 2012. It was your first day showing up to work, and I was out cleaning cars. As you were walking in, you came over to me and said, “Hi, I’m Russell.” I thought that was really cool. That said a lot about the confidence that you had, and the fact that you would go out of your way to say ‘Hi’ to the car detail guy. Later on that day I told Mo Kelly that I don’t know what kind of QB you were going to be, but you most definitely had leadership qualities.
Then success happened. Super Bowl 48 champions, back to the Super Bowl the next year, and basically 10-plus wins every season that you have been here. I always thought that everything happened with you, but not because of you. I thought you were a good quarterback, but not elite. When I would speak of the Seahawks, I would credit the defense, run game, and then you – in that order. When I saw the way you played in the second half of 2015, I was amazed but doubted I would ever see you do it again. In 2016 I gave you credit for never missing a game despite all of the injuries you dealt with, but that was about it.
When this season started, I said that this would be the year that we find out just how good you are. When the offense was having slow starts, I blamed you. Really, when anything went wrong on the offense, I blamed you. I would often talk about the fact that I didn’t have that same confidence going into games that I used to. Even after the bye week as the Seahawks headed east to play a 1-5 New York Giants team, I didn’t have the confidence. Game starts, and the offense is slow again, but this time I didn’t blame you. Weird!
I saw something.
I saw that you had trust back there in the pocket, which led me to believe that you had trust in the offensive line. As if you were saying, “Hey O-Line, a lot of folks don’t have trust in you, but I do.”
You won in NY, and the next day I talked about you. I let everybody know that there are two things that Russell has above any other QB in the NFL: toughness and positivity when his team is down.
Last Tuesday, you and I were walking towards each other after I finished recording my “Driving with Gee” show for Seahawks.com. Many times over the years we just share a simple ‘Hello’ back and forth, and I figured it would be the same this time. But after I got a few steps past you, I realized I had a question to ask. So I did.
“Hey Russ, when your team is down, why are you so positive? Have you always been that way?”
That’s when I found out that I have been wrong about you this entire time.
“I never think I’m going to lose. I just don’t think like that. Maybe because I’ve been through a lot in life, so that’s why. I don’t know, it’s just in my blood to comeback.”
I kept thinking about those words you said to me all night. I even shared them with my son. I kept thinking about what most folks in this lifetime could do if they never thought they would lose. Powerful.
During that Texans game, I never thought you would lose. That’s even after you threw the interception late in the game. Why? Because of what you told me just days earlier.
On that final drive, with 1:39 left to play in the game and no timeouts, I knew you would win. I felt that that moment was for so many of us that are going through something that’s really hard. A time in which most don’t think we’re going to win. That moment showed that even when folks don’t believe in you, it really doesn’t matter. What really matters is what you think.
That drive was special, so thank you for the lesson, my man. Thank you for proving me wrong. Thank you for what you have done since you hit Seattle in 2012. Who knows, if you never arrived here, I’m might still be cleaning cars. What happens this season and beyond, I don’t know, but I do now know that you are the straw that stirs the coffee for this Seahawks team. Yes, I’m probably late to the party, and I can admit that.
But that moment that I had with you just days prior to the greatest game I’ve ever seen you play, when you told me, “I never think I’m going to lose,” made being late that much better.