Russell Wilson only eyeing future
Seahawks quarterback keeps same mindset despite devastating finish, and plans to get better next season.
Seattle Times columnist
In a Seahawks locker room crowded with boxes and suitcases, players moved silently, sullenly, preparing to head back home.
The handful that stopped to talk to the media still reeked of anguish from Sunday’s Super Bowl loss. Eyes were red, tones were clipped.
“I’m sorry, guys, I don’t have too many answers,’’ Luke Willson said. “It is what it is. Sorry.”
Punter Jon Ryan called it “a grieving process,’’ adding, “We’re angry, we’re sad, we’re questioning things ... It’s going to hurt for a while.”
Chris Matthews, who would have been the toast of the town if the Seahawks had won, called himself “a sore loser. Right now, I’m extremely upset and mad about the outcome of that game ... I don’t think anyone wanted it as bad as I did.”
Bryan Walters said the finality of cleaning out his locker was “kind of a weird feeling, and kind of an empty feeling.”
Jermaine Kearse spoke of watching replays of the interception on seemingly an endless loop on highlights shows and realizing, “Man, that really happened. It’s reality.”
Doug Baldwin, still without sleep since the game ended, called the defeat simply, “Devastating.”
And then, after the locker room had been closed off to the media – and after his film study had been completed – Russell Wilson came out for an interview. The vibe was different. It’s not quite accurate to say Wilson was upbeat, but he expressed few visible signs that he was less than 48 hours removed from the most agonizing defeat of his life.
Wilson spoke repeatedly of looking forward to his next opportunity, adding “the part I hate is that I have to wait seven months to play another game.”
He said he would grow from the trauma of throwing an interception from the 1-yard-line with the Seahawks on the verge of a victory, and another title. “I can use this for life, or I can use it for another game,’’ he said.
Wilson stressed that his focus would have been identical whether the team had won or lost the Super Bowl: Figuring out what he and the team needed to do to get better.
He said he likes to write messages on the team’s chalkboard during meetings, and Tuesday he wrote, “Let’s keep the focus on the future, not what’s behind.”
“Maybe I’m boring. Maybe I am sick in the mind in that way,’’ he said. “But that’s just how I think. I think that’s why we’ve been in two Super Bowls in the last three years, and we’ve been in the playoffs every time. We don’t change our mindset.”
Wilson said he had watched film of the game about 12 times, laughing at the symbolism of that number. He and coach Pete Carroll spent extensive time immediately after the game in Carroll’s office in the locker room in Arizona, dissecting the play. Those sessions continued the next day as the two tried to figure out what went wrong.
“I want to know everything I can,’’ he said. “I want to understand everything.”
Wilson remained steadfast in his support of the play called by offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell after Carroll told him he wanted to pass because of New England’s defensive personnel. The slant to Ricardo Lockette was intercepted by Pats rookie Malcolm Butler.
“It’s one of those things, you trust what they called,’’ Wilson said. “I had no doubt. I had no doubt in the play call. I still don’t to this day. I just wish we had made the play. If we had made the touchdown, you guys would be sitting here asking me different questions, but we didn’t.’’
Wilson said he never contemplated tucking the ball and running.
“Oh, no. It looked wide open,’’ he said, before slightly altering that assessment. “Open enough. I shouldn’t say wide open, but it looked open enough to get it in there and make the play. I thought we were going to. When I threw it, I was like, ‘touchdown, second Super Bowl ring, here we go.’
“He (Butler) made a great play. It was one of those bang-bang plays. That’s how it usually is in a goal-line area ... somehow, some way, the ball didn’t go to the right guy that play when I thought it was going to.”
So now Wilson faces an offseason in which negotiations for his contract extension will be a major story. He may go to Arizona for another brief stint in the spring-training camp of the Texas Rangers, who have stowed Wilson on their Class AAA Round Rock roster. If last year is a guide, he would do little more than take some grounders and provide a motivational message to the Rangers players.
Now Wilson has quite a tale of overcoming adversity to impart. His roommate, Robert Turbin, said he tried to soothe Wilson by telling him that this game, devastating as it was, would wind up as a positive because he would be able to use it to inspire kids.
“One day, you’re going to be talking to some kid, or talking to some high-school quarterback who may be low on confidence or struggling with his game,’’ Turbin said he told Wilson on Monday. “You’re going to give him the example about how you threw a pick on the last play of the game in the Super Bowl.
“Somehow, some way, that story is going to help that person get better, the same way the game is going to help him get better as a quarterback.’’
Those were words that Wilson embraced, a sentiment he vowed to embody on a day he didn’t let the recent Super Bowl loss keep him from his customary Tuesday visit to Seattle Children’s Hospital.
“You continue to grow, you continue to learn from the lessons,’’ he said. “You guys are probably going to be asking me questions for the next 15 years, hopefully. So when you guys ask me this 15 years from now, hopefully I’ll have several Super Bowl rings, and you guys will ask different questions.”
Wilson reiterated that he couldn’t wait to get back on the field. One thing we’ve learned about Wilson by now is that he’ll be single-minded in his quest to ensure he’ll be ready in the next crucial moment in the next big game. If people thought this game was going to break Russell Wilson, they haven’t been paying attention.
“Every time I’m in that situation again,’’ he said, “I believe I’m going to have success again.”
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Larry Stone gives his take on the local and national sports scene.