Russell Wilson met with the media today, as he does every Thursday. But with the playoffs looming, and a larger media contingent on hand, his session was moved into the auditorium at the Seahawks facility in Renton. Normally, he conducts the interview at a podium outside the locker room.
That’s a sign of the increased stakes this week, but Wilson said the key is to not let the hype drown out the task at hand
“You definitely feel a difference,” Wilson said. “You feel the energy and excitement about the game. It’s the playoffs. You get really excited by the moment. The biggest thing is, can you ignore the noise. That’s what we’re focused on as a football team. just playing like we always do. Play one play at a time, one practice at a time, and make sure we prepare the right way. As I always say, the separation is in the preparation. We have to focus on that part of the game.”
The only thing in Wilson’s experience that compares is last year’s Rose Bowl appearance with Wisconsin.
“It’s very similar to the Rose Bowl in terms of excitement and how big a stage it is,” he said. “But at the same time, it’s still 100 yards. We can’t play any different. It’s a great opportunity to play. It’s a blessing to get on the field again.”
Wilson, of course, has emerged as an NFL star with the Seahawks after being drafted in the third round and having to beat out Matt Flynn and Tarvaris Jackson for the starting job. Obviously, Seattle turned out to be the perfect landing spot for Wilson. He revealed an anecdote that seemed to indicate that playing for Seattle was in the cards.
“It’s an unbelievable opportunity. As some of you may know, it’s kind of ironic I ended up here because I put all the teams in a hat. I told my wife, I’m not normally like this. But I put all the teams in a hat, and the one team I pulled out was the Seattle Seahawks. I’m not sure if God or my Dad or somebody had something to do with that. But just to be here is a great opportunity. I’m trying to take advantage of every opportunity I get. You’ve got to cherish these moments.
Asked what he thought when he was drafted by the Seahawks after he pulled their name out of the hat, Wilson said, “Just I knew I was in the right place at the right time. God’s always done that for me in my life. It’s amazing how that works out. The biggest thing is continue to work and have that work ethic and determination to be great, and don’t shy away from it at all.”
Wilson believes the Seahawks are ready for the challenge of the playoffs — himself included.
“Great football teams don’t shy away from success,” he said. “We’ve been waiting on these moments our whole entire lives. I know for me, for example, I’ve been waiting for this my whole entire life. I think with our football team, we’re determined to be successful. We’re determined to be great. That mindset of staying focused on the positive, staying focused on the great opportunities you have, staying focused on the now, that’s where you’re successful more times than not.”
Other thoughts from Wilson:
On Robert Griffin III: ”Robert’s done a tremendous job all season. He’s a tremendous quarterback. He leads his team in the right way, the right fashion. He’s a great human being. I’ve met him several times. I’m very, very happy for him. He’s done a great job this season.
On what struck him about Griffin when they met at the NFL Combine: “Just a guy who’s very confident in himself. A guy who can obviously play the game of football. Like I said, a guy who’s just a great human being and wants to excel and do good things.”
On his similarities with Griffin: “I definitely think we have very similar qualities. He does a great job of throwing the football and running the football, both strengths of our game. I think the biggest thing is I’m trying to focus on what I can do to help our team win. That’s my focus this entire week. That’s the biggest thing in terms of all the hype and all the distractions. Just being focused on what we can control and what I can control to help our football team win.
On what impresses him most about Griffin as a quarterback: ” The few times I’ve been able to see him play – I’m usually playing around the same time – he’s an exciting player. He makes a lot of great plays, and he leads his team down the field. That’s what you want in a quarterback.
On the qualities that have allowed him to be successful this season: “This season, I’ve been very very blessed to obviously be the starting quarterback of the Seahawks; to be with great teammates and a great coaching staff and great fans. I think the biggest thing for me is just taking advantage of my opportunities. You can’t be afraid to excel. For me, I like a challenge. I like something to be on my plate where people doubt me all the time or people think you may not be able to do this.“
On how the increasing amount of praise he’s receiving affects that: “Praise or no praise, it doesn’t matter to me either way, to be honest. … I think the biggest thing for me is ignoring all the noise. Whether it’s good praise, bad praise, whatever, in terms of watching tons of ESPN, or reading things, I stay away from that as much as I can. I believe to be great at this game, you have to stay humble. You have to realize you have to continue to come to work every day and get better and strive for success. There’s going to be times you’re playing great, and there’s going to be times you can play just a little bit better. The goal is to critique yourself where you can continue to grow and progress on a daily basis.”