Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson smiles after a game against the Dolphins on Sept. 11 in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson smiles after a game against the Dolphins on Sept. 11 in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Patterson: Wilson’s ability to recover from injury is not human

I’ve come to the conclusion that Russell Wilson is not human.

I believe the Seattle Seahawks quarterback, based on his incredible ability to recover from injury, is less like you and me and more like a comic-book superhero.

And I think I’ve figured out which one.

When I was young I collected comic books, and the title I followed most closely was the X-Men. The signature member of the mutant superhero team is Wolverine. His unbreakable metal-laced bones, his retractable claws, his bushy sideburns and his gruff demeanor made him pretty much everyone’s favorite X-Man.

But none of that was Wolverine’s actual superpower. Wolverine’s gift was his healing factor, the ability of his body to regenerate itself and recover no matter how much damage he received.

That sure sounds like a certain quarterback who spends his Sundays dressed in blue scampering around CenturyLink Field, doesn’t it? I think I know who Wilson should dress up as for Halloween this year.

The 2016 NFL season is only into Week 6, and yet Wilson has already suffered two debilitating injuries. Go back and look at the video clips of the plays when Wilson got hurt. Look at the way his right ankle twisted as he was being sacked by the Miami Dolphins’ Ndamukong Suh in Week 1. Look at how unnaturally Wilson’s left leg bent as he was being hauled down by the San Francisco 49ers’ Eli Harold in Week 3. Those are the type of gruesome scenes that cause people to reflexively look away as a squeamish grimace crosses their faces. If either of those had happened to me, not only would I have been knocked out of the game, I’d probably be walking with a limp the rest of my life.

But Wilson? He didn’t miss a single play against the Dolphins. He sat out only one play against the 49ers before checking himself back into the game. He not only played Week 4 against the New York Jets, despite dealing with a sprained right ankle and sprained left knee, he played as well as ever as his 133.5 passer rating was among the 10 best in his NFL career.

This is inhuman stuff.

“Where does that come from, that drives a person to not accept the fact that they’re hurt and not allow the injury to consume their thoughts and their focus?,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll mused the week after Wilson suffered his knee injury. “There’s a common quality and trait, and it goes back to the way we describe the kinds of players we want to have at our program. They’re just passionate about what’s their challenge, they’re passionate to deal with whatever is there and they’ve got this really strong sense of persevering, and they’re not going to let something take them out of what they want.

“The normal time frames don’t always fit,” Carroll added. “It’s a makeup that we really cherish around here, and I think it’s pretty common that they’re just not going to accept the fact that they can’t go.”

Wilson possesses that trait in spades. But he also works at it, too. Wilson has not been shy about sharing the extent of his rehabilitation following both of his injuries. He flew his personal trainer, Drew Morcos, in from California to stay with him as he’s undergone rehab. He wakes himself up in the middle of the night for further treatment — as well as prevent the injuries from having too much time to sit and tighten up. When Wilson talks about having “no time to sleep,” he ain’t kidding.

“I think the first thing is mentality, how you approach it,” Wilson said when asked the secret to his quick recoveries. “Not sure if that’s a secret, not sure if there’s any secret, really. Just ultimately having people who help you in terms of the training room and all of that. They’ve been great, the Seahawks’ training staff has been awesome. Drew (Morcos) has been great, too. I think it’s just staying on top of it every day.”

The net result is Wilson has been as durable as it gets. When Sunday’s game against the Atlanta Falcons kicks off it will mark Wilson’s 79th straight start including both the regular season and playoffs, meaning he’s started every single game of his five-year NFL career.

The value of having a durable quarterback is almost immeasurable. Take a look at the quarterbacks who are currently considered the NFL’s elite. Tom Brady. Aaron Rodgers. Drew Brees. One of the characteristics they all possess is durability — Brady had consecutive start streaks of 128 and 112 games with New England; Rodgers has missed just nine games over his nine seasons as a starter in Green Bay; Brees has missed just two games in 11 seasons with New Orleans. All three have won Super Bowls.

And because they’re durable they haven’t had the constant interruptions to their careers that could have forced them back to square one. For every Brady, Rodgers or Brees, how many Daunte Culpeppers or Carson Palmers have there been who could have been great had they been able to avoid injuries?

We often think of injuries in sports as being random, that they’re the result of bad timing and the whims of the sporting gods as much of anything. But maybe that’s not correct. Maybe durability is more of a skill — dare I say superpower? — than we realize.

No, Wilson won’t be donning a cape when he takes the field Sunday against Atlanta. But that doesn’t mean the Falcons shouldn’t feel fear. After all, they’re up against a superhero.

For more on the Seattle sports scene, check out Nick Patterson’s Seattle Sidelines blog at, or follow him on Twitter at @NickHPatterson.

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