RENTON — Russell Wilson made a point of picking the brain of New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees at the Pro Bowl last year.
And while the Seattle Seahawks celebrated an NFC Championship Sunday, Wilson asked four-time Super Bowl champion and former Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Terry Bradshaw, who now works for Fox television, what it takes to win a title.
So it’s safe to say the Seahawks’ quarterback likes to take knowledge from experienced quarterbacks whenever and wherever he can get it. But before Brees or Bradshaw could pass any words of wisdom on to Wilson, he was learning from another quarterbacking great.
The one he’ll be trying to beat in Super Bowl XLVIII.
You see Wilson, back when he was a high school sophomore, attended the Manning Passing Academy, a camp run by Archie Manning and his three sons, Peyton, Eli and Cooper. And as luck would have it so many years ago, a teenage Wilson ended up in the group of players being coached by Peyton Manning, the quarterback who will be leading the Denver Broncos against Seattle next week.
“I mean there were thousands of kids there and I was actually in his group,” Wilson said. “Me and I think 12 or 15 other guys.”
Manning obviously never could have known it at the time, but he was helping shape a young quarterback who would someday try to deny him a second championship ring. That famous Wilson work ethic and those well-documented study habits, Wilson got a lot of that from his father, Harrison, and took the rest from a lot of people who have influenced him, one of whom was Manning.
“Just how much care he showed for the kids at the time and how much detail he always talked about and how much of a perfectionist he was, I try to use that in my game,” Wilson said. “I got a long ways to go obviously, but I just try to do all the little things and that’s what (Manning) does. He takes tons of notes, he does all the right things and he puts his team in the right position to win football games.”
And while Wilson was the one learning from Manning, it seems the teenage quarterback made an impression on Manning a decade ago as well. Prior to the 2012 draft, the Broncos brought Wilson to Denver for a pre-draft visit, and Manning had a vague recollection of meeting Wilson so long ago.
“He was sitting there in the locker room and I went up and talked to him, and he was like, ‘Have I seen you before somewhere?’” Wilson said. “He was like, ‘Yeah. I think I’ve seen you. Good to see you man. I’ve seen you before somewhere. Where did I know you?’”
Wilson told him, “Well actually you coached me in the Manning Passing Academy.”
Priority No. 1 for Wilson in the Super Bowl will be worrying about Denver’s defense, but he admits he might sneak an occasional peek to watch one of the game’s all-time greats at work. For the Seahawks to beat the Broncos and their high-octane offense, Wilson might have to put on an aerial show himself, or at least throw the ball more than he is usually asked to in Seattle’s offense. And who knows, if Wilson has a big day and leads his team to victory, the Seahawks might have, of all people, Manning to thank for it, at least a little bit anyway.
“The way he plays the game, he’s just a tremendous individual. He has great attention to detail, great leadership, has won a lot of games,” Wilson said. “So we’re going to have to play our best football game and we know that. We know that he’s a great football player and he leads his football team.”
Herald Writer John Boyle: firstname.lastname@example.org.