When discussing the biggest setback in his life — losing his father just after being selected in the MLB draft — Wilson chose not to consider what it what have been like having his dad with him on the sideline for his first NFL start, or winning a Super Bowl or getting his ring. Instead he cherishes their time together and tries to find ways to let his father, and his messages, live on through him by imparting those lessons to others.
Wilson began and concluded his address relying heavily on his dad’s words.
“Son, potential just means you haven’t done it yet,” Wilson’s father told him back in his T-ball days. “The moments when life tells you, ‘Yes,’ aren’t the moments that define you.”
It’s how you respond to adversity, and being told no, that will determine one’s path. And Wilson has never lacked for doubters.
Wilson segued from one story to the next, tying his parables back to his central theme of not letting others define your future and embracing being told “No” as an opportunity to still achieve. He possessed the air of some champion of business who makes his fortunes giving motivational speeches to Fortune 500 companies.
He joked about being dorky in his desire and commitment to his dreams at times, like wearing his batting helmet and gripping his bat on the bench for 10 innings once in college during a period his skipper was not playing him. Wilson ended up hitting a pinch-hit, game-winning three-run homer that night.
For all of his national ad campaigns and his crossover celebrity status as Ciara’s fiancée, Wilson has never been shy about sharing his true beliefs, telling his story honestly and reveling in his single-minded devotion to his fitness and his playbook. He doesn’t run from his inner nerd, and there are very few people as successful as him that don’t have that in them.
Some just try harder than others to obscure it.
No stage is too big for this dude. He was basking in this opportunity to speak at Wisconsin, so thoroughly prepared to the point I never saw him really even have to refer to his notes until he literally tore up his notes to punctuate his final remarks.
He was rocking a hoodie and you could tell he fully embraced this challenge in the same way he did having to transfer over to Wisconsin as a senior, with his minor-league baseball career essentially over, and winning over that locker room and campus in the manner he did.
“THE MOMENTS WHEN LIFE TELLS YOU, ‘YES,’ AREN’T THE MOMENTS THAT DEFINE YOU.”Russell Wilson, on advice from his father
Watching him speak now, you can see why, in hindsight, of course the third-round pick was going to dispatch of Matt Flynn within weeks of his first training camp opening, even though Flynn had just signed a $26 million deal with $10 million guaranteed. Of course he was going to keep his mouth shut and provide historic production for scant compensation his first three seasons before landing a deal worth $20 million a season.
Wilson, we now know, saw it all the time. It seems obvious to all now.
“Even the best professional platform speakers sometimes shy away from graduation speeches,” said mental conditioning expert Trevor Moawad, who has long worked with Wilson and several top college football programs and who happened to be speaking to Occidental University grads himself. “They are challenging and there can be a lot unforeseen factors — particularly in a football stadium in the Midwest.
“In typical Russell Wilson fashion he rose to the challenge — as he is able to do because of his relentless preparation — and incited 50,000 millennials to give him and themselves a standing ovation in a hail storm. Simply amazing. Russ has so many special abilities that transcend the sports world but also are core to who he is on and off the field.”
And almost everyone would have to agree that doubting Wilson is unwise. He’s just entering his prime and coming off a season in which he — not the Marshawn Lynch-led running game — truly powered the Seahawks to another nice playoff run. Even his most staunch critics would have to realize after a 2015 in which he was one of the top pocket passers in the NFL, that it is impossible to come up with a logical list of the best quarterbacks in the world and not have Wilson near the top.
And with all of last summer’s discord about the post-Super Bowl loss hangover and Lynch’s contract and ‘s holdout now out of the equation for the Seahawks, a return to the Super Bowl for a third time in four years would hardly be a surprise.
Since entering the NFL in 2012, only one quarterback has a better passer rating than Wilson’s 101.8 (Aaron Rodgers at 104.1). Only seven active quarterbacks have thrown more touchdowns than Wilson’s 106 in that span (Ben Roethlisberger and Matt Ryaneach have one more TD, for instance). Only five active full-time starters have a better completion percentage that Wilson in that time (his 64.7 percent is tied with Rodgers). Only four quarterbacks have a lower interception percentage in that span, and only Rodgers (125-27) and Brady (128-35) have a better TD/INT results than Wilson’s 106-34.
Among all quarterbacks, only Cam Newton and Andy Dalton have rushed for more touchdowns since 2012, and of all the regular starters in that span, only Newton (7.6) has a better yards-per-carry average than Wilson (6.4). Including the postseason — and that last-second loss to the Patriots — Wilson is 53-21 as starter — he’s never missed a game — with 122 TDs, 43 INTs, and a QB rating of 100.6.
Over the weekend, Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson spoke to a group of graduating students at the University of Wisconsin, utilizing his overcoming-all-obstacles story in order motivate the youngsters as they move forward to make America great again.
Per usual, Wilson was entertaining and inspirational. And per usual he played up the massive chip on his shoulder.
However, Wilson, in the process of giving this message to the graduates, took unnecessary shots at two of his former NC State coaches, ex-football coach Tom O’Brien and current baseball coach Elliott Avent.
If this offseason taught us anything about the state of quarterbacking in the NFL it’s that change is inevitable.
Even mediocre QB talent will get paid and teams lacking a relatively permanent solution at the most important position will go to great lengths to find it.
That’s even more reason why a good number of men who will take the field come Week 1 probably should be looking over their shoulders. It’s the nature of the game, especially at this position.
The “Not For Long” league particularly applies when it comes to coaches and quarterbacks. Those tend to be symbiotic relationships. The less secure they are, the more likely that at least one of them will be departing in short order.
Heck, many of the teams that invested a considerable amount of money into the quarterback position in 2016 did so with an eye toward someone else under center in 2017. It wouldn’t surprise me if at least 25 percent of the league ended up with someone other than their 2016 Week 1 starter in that same spot a year from now.