How success is a matter of obsession for Broncos QB Russell Wilson
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — The great ones are a bit obsessed. They reap the rewards, to be certain. But they’re not like everyone else. Their diligence, their intensity, their attention to detail is on another level.
They don’t turn it off, either.
Russell Wilson, who agreed to the largest contract in Denver Broncos history late Wednesday night, fits that description. His teammates see it every day at UCHealth Training Center.
“It’s his demeanor, man. Everything he does is for this,” tight end Eric Saubert said.
“He wants to win so badly, and he takes into account everything on the field, off the field, it’s like he’s about that business, he’s about that work. So, he’s truly obsessed with the game.”
But it doesn’t stop at the doors to team headquarters. Nor does it stop when his offseason throwing and study sessions in San Diego with his teammates conclude.
Those teammates could look down at their smartphones at any time, day or night, and see a message from Wilson.
“I’ll get a text from him every now and then and he’ll just be like, ‘What do you think about this?’ And I’m like, ‘Yeah, I like it. I like it. I can’t wait to see you.’ And [he responds], ‘All right, we’re going to practice it when we get on the field,'” said wide receiver Courtland Sutton.
“… It’s just cool to see, because he just works to a different level. His mind is always racing about something.”
Added Saubert: “When we’re talking outside of the facility, too, he’s talking about, ‘Hey, on this play here, we can do this.’ He’s truly obsessed.”
For longtime observers of the Broncos, it evokes memories of Peyton Manning. Sutton heard the stories of Manning’s hyper-detailed approach from Emmanuel Sanders and the late Demaryius Thomas … and now, a few years later, he understands, with his own version of Manning firing passes.
“1,000 percent. It’s a different level of expectations that he brings to the table, and he holds everybody to that standard — not just offense, but defense as well,” Sutton said.
So, does Wilson ever turn off?
“You know, that’s a great question. I wonder that sometimes,” Saubert said. “He obviously lets loose with us and stuff, but I still think that in the back of his mind, he’s still thinking about the game.”
For Sutton, the answer to whether Wilson turns “off” is obvious.
“No, I think he’s always thinking about ball,” Sutton replied after thinking for a second. “I always joke and say that he’s probably walking the halls, thinking about new plays, and ways that he can use different guys on our team to put them in different spaces.
“I always joke that I’ll see him randomly when we’re walking, and he’ll be like, ‘What do you think about this?’ And we’ll just start talking about ball. I think he’s always thinking about something. There’s always something about ball that’s going on in his head.”
That doesn’t mean that Wilson is perpetually super-serious football man.
“The guy is also hilarious. He has a huge personality. He’s funny. When he’s not thinking about ball, he’s hilarious,” Sutton said. “But there’s always some form of ball that he’s thinking about.”
And for Wilson, it’s just habit. It’s who he is and how he lives.
“This is a lifestyle. It’s a lifestyle of habits,” he said. “I believe that you can have winning habits and you can have losing ones. I got winning ones, and I think I’ve been surrounded by some amazing people along the way.”
Wilson promptly rattled off a cluster of his former Seattle teammates: Jimmy Graham, Tyler Lockett, D.K. Metcalf, Robert Turbin, Bobby Wagner and Leon Washington. He mentioned some with the Broncos in various capacities: Steve Atwater, John Elway, Melvin Gordon, Peyton Manning and Justin Simmons.
Gordon, in particular, knows all about the level at which Wilson operates. He saw it 11 years ago at the University of Wisconsin.
“When he walked in the room, I remember we was all in a team-meeting room, and he had just walked in and this guy was like — he had never did anything, he said probably a couple of things, but when he walked in, it was just like, ‘Yeah, you’re a winner,'” Gordon said, recalling when Wilson first joined the Badgers.
“He had that aura about him. So, I kind of knew he was going to be right where he is today.”
And now, that includes a contract with the third-highest guaranteed-money figure in NFL history. And his teammates have no quibble with it.
“He deserves every penny he’s about to get from this organization,” Saubert said.