RENTON — Russell Wilson looks like he’s just getting going.
His hair is freshly cut. It gives the dad a youthful look on the eve of his ninth consecutive season-opening start for the Seattle Seahawks
He is now the father of three young children; his wife Ciara had their third this summer.
Seattle’s franchise quarterback and starter now for almost a full decade to begin his career also sounds like he’s just getting going. At age 31.
“I’m just beginning,” Wilson said Thursday, three days before the Seahawks begin this unprecedented, COVID-19 season at the Atlanta Falcons.
“I feel like I’m just getting started. I’m not even at 50-, 60-, 70% capacity yet, you know? That’s the fun part. That’s the part I get excited about.
“Got a lot more years ahead of me. …
“I feel like I’m just beginning, my knowledge of the game. I’ve always worked at that. I think my timing, my footwork — I want to be able to do it all, to be honest with you.”
Wilson said during this offseason of the coronavirus pandemic keeping Americans and NFL players home-bound he dived even more deeply than he always does into studying game films.
“In this offseason I did tons of study, tons of film work. Guys in the present, and past, of myself,” he said. “Just everything that I’ve tried to do is just continue to learn the game and try to find new ways to do new things.”
He raised his eyebrows into an almost mischievous look.
In 2016, entering his fifth season having already started two Super Bowls and won Seattle’s only NFL championship, Wilson explained he was focusing more on leg strength because he wanted to play “15-plus more years.” That would be past his 42nd birthday, to at least 2031.
Oh, yes, he notices Tom Brady is 43 and just signed a two-year contract this offseason to play for his first new team in 20 years, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Wilson knows Brady, with his record six Super Bowl victories, is considered the greatest of all time.
That “GOAT” title is what Wilson outwardly states he wants. Last year he tied Brady as the winningest quarterback in a player’s first eight NFL seasons with 86 wins. Wilson’s 95 victories total in the regular season and postseason are second-most in NFL history over a QB’s first eight seasons, behind only Brady’s 100.
Wilson and Peyton Manning are the only players in league history to throw for at least 3,000 yards and have 20 or more touchdowns in each of their first eight seasons.
Wilson’s 32 fourth-quarter comebacks for victories is the most in the NFL since Sept. 9, 2012. That was Wilson’s first career start.
“I always want to be known as one of the clutch players to ever play this game,” Wilson said three days before career start number 144, including playoffs. “I also want to be known as, I always tell you guys, the greatest winner.
“But also I want to be known as one of the smartest guys on the field, too. You think about guys like Peyton Manning … I’ve been able to spend some time (this offseason) just kind of learning. Just trying to study as much as I can.”
Wilson and All-Pro linebacker Bobby Wagner are the franchise’s two cornerstones. They are team co-captains. They became the highest-paid players in the league at each of their positions last year when they signed new Seattle contracts worth a combined $194 million.
They talk often about motivation. The two best at their positions over the last decade, the leaders of a team that has made the playoffs in seven of the last eight years, say they are striving to get better.
“Bobby and I talk all the time about it: don’t get bored with consistency,” said Wilson, the owner of 20 Seahawks franchise records. “Just stay consistent. Stay on it. Play with an edge.
“I remember (Hall of Fame coach) Bill Cowher came to talk to us; I was in college at N.C. State. … One of the things he said to me was, ‘Always, constantly learn. But also play with an edge, every day. Go all the way to the edge, just don’t fall off the cliff.’
“And I’ll never forget that. … It’s an everyday thing.”
Not only does Wilson feel renewed, as if he’s just starting, he feels renewed appreciation for his job. And his life.
“This year has been a tough year as a whole, in so many different ways,” he said. “Thinking about Kobe (Bryant) passing away … then everything else going on in our country, with young Black men and women getting killed has been tough. And then, on top of that, you have COVID, too, as well. And so 2020 hasn’t been the best year, that’s for sure.
“And I think about Chadwick (Boseman) passing away recently. Life is short. When you have a gift to be able to play this game it makes you realize to cherish every moment, every practice, every relationship.
“Because it’s worth it.”