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Wilson stands tall in pursuit of the dream

Russell Wilson has left it to others to enjoy the limelight ahead of Super Bowl XLVIII in New Jersey tomorrow.

Wilson prepares for Super Bowl XLVIII. Picture: Reuters
Wilson prepares for Super Bowl XLVIII. Picture: Reuters

Not that the Seattle Seahawks quarterback has shied away from the considerable media duties players must undertake in the build-up to such an occasion.

But when the Seahawks' charter flight arrived in New York at the start of the week, Richard Sherman, the fast-talking, trash-talking cornerback, was the most sought out player, with Wilson barely given a second glance.

In his second season at the club, the passer has quietly guided Seattle to their first Super Bowl since 2006 without putting up the personal numbers Peyton Manning of opponents Denver Broncos has managed. Seahawks' success has been built on their defence while Broncos, under the orchestration of Manning, have the top offence in the NFL.

Wilson, a devout Christian, is first to admit he has some way to go to rival what other quarterbacks have achieved in the game. But winning a Super Bowl ring in only his second season would earn him new respect.

"I think guys like Peyton Manning have changed the game in terms of the way he thinks, in terms of the way he processes things. You see that about him," said Wilson, 25. "Tom Brady [New England] is the same way. He's so clutch; people fear him when he steps on the field. Drew Brees [New Orleans] is like that, too.

"One day I want to evolve to that. It's a daily process. You respect the journey, you respect the process. I'm just growing one day at a time and to be here in my second year is a good thing. I just have to keep going."

Had things worked out differently, Wilson could have been playing baseball. He was drafted out of high school by Baltimore Orioles in 2007. But he chose instead to pursue a college education. Three years later, he was drafted by Colorado Rockies and played for two of their affiliate teams, Tri-City Dust Devils and Asheville Tourists.

Two years ago, however, Wilson tried out at the NFL Scouting Combine and three months later was a third-round draft pick for the Seahawks. At 5ft 11in, some NFL teams considered him too short but it has worked out for Wilson.

"My faith is so strong I believe God made me 5ft 11in for a reason," he said. "For all the kids that have been told, no, that they can't do it, or all the kids that will be told no. That's one of the reasons I left baseball, to be honest with you.

"I had this urge to play the game of football because so many people - I shouldn't say so many, a handful of people - said I couldn't do it. For me, it was one of those things. I believe in the talent the Lord gave me and I wanted to take advantage of it."

Wilson attended last year's Super Bowl as a fan, never suspecting that he would be centre stage this time. "The biggest thing I learned from last year's Super Bowl experience in terms of going to go watch is the time it takes for pre-game," he said.

"It's different from normal. The time it takes for half-time is different from normal. Usually half-time is 15 minutes. For the Super Bowl, it's 45 minutes because of Bruno Mars performing and everybody performing and having a good time.

"You have to understand that you can't get too high and you can't get too low. You have to be calm and patient and have a plan, a routine, that you can go through. I'm starting to plan that in my head already.

"I think that's going to help us. Even though it's our first time there, we want to be able to step into the situation like we've been here before. I think the best way is just to be as normal as possible; enjoy the moment, take it all in. It is real. We're playing in the Super Bowl, Super Bowl 48.

"At the same time, though, just be poised, be the calm in the storm. I want to play with a smile on my face and go after it, play one play at a time, enjoy the moment and capitalise when the big plays come.

"Our mantra at the beginning of the year was, 'Leave no doubt: Seahawks 24/7.' It's kind of something that we came up with together. Every time we step on to the field, make sure that we leave no doubt, have no regrets, go after it.

"Prepare the right way. Prepare the right way in the weight room, prepare the right way in the classroom, prepare the right way on and off the field.

"The whole Seahawks 24/7 thing, kind of the whole idea of we're representing the organisation, we're trying to do everything we can to do the best we can to win a lot of football games and help this city do something it's never done before. We're excited about this. We're here. It's time to take advantage of it and time to go after it."

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