Can Russell Wilson follow in Warren Moon’s Pro Bowl footsteps?

Posted Jan 22, 2013

In 1997, Warren Moon was a late addition to the Pro Bowl and ended up being the game’s MVP. This year, Seahawks rookie QB Russell Wilson followed a similar path to Honolulu for Sunday’s game.

It was as much a part of Russell Wilson’s post-road game ritual as accepting congratulations from his teammates or fielding questions from the media.

At some point during the charter flight back to Seattle, the Seahawks’ rookie quarterback would seek out and sit next to Warren Moon. Wilson was after any input Moon could offer from his performance in the just-completed game. And who better to ask than Moon, the Hall of Fame QB who is now the analyst for radio broadcasts of the team’s games?


Russell Wilson’s addition to the NFC squad on Monday means the Seahawks will have six players in Sunday’s Pro Bowl game, which ties for the second-highest total in franchise history. Here’s a look at this year’s group, as well as the two seasons that exceed it and the one season that matches it:

1984: Seven players
CB Dave Brown
S Kenny Easley
K Norm Johnson
QB Dave Krieg
WR Steve Largent
ST Fredd Young
DT Joe Nash

2005: Seven players
RB Shaun Alexander
QB Matt Hasselbeck
OG Steve Hutchinson
OT Walter Jones
FB Mack Strong
MLB Lofa Tatupu
C Robbie Tobeck

2007: Six players
QB Matt Hasselbeck
OT Walter Jones
DE Patrick Kerney
LB Julian Peterson
MLB Lofa Tatupu
CB Marcus Trufant

2012: Six players
RB Marshawn Lynch
OT Russell Okung
FS Earl Thomas
C Max Unger
KR Leon Washington
QB Russell Wilson

“I talk to Warren every chance I get,” Wilson said at one point during his rookie season. “Why wouldn’t I? He’s been where I’m trying to get, and he always has something constructive to offer.”

Wilson has now followed in Moon’s jet stream, as he flew to Honolulu after being named to the NFC Pro Bowl squad on Monday because Matt Ryan of the Atlanta Falcons had to bow out of Sunday’s game with the injury to his left shoulder he got in the loss to the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship game.

Wilson was the third alternate to the Pro Bowl when the teams were announced last month. He is on the team because starter Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers and fellow rookie Robert Griffin III also dropped out of the game due to injuries – which prompted Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints and Eli Manning of the New York Giants to also be added to the NFC squad.

Brees? Manning? Wilson? Not a bad trio to have to fall back on for the NFC. But just how much can be expected from the late-arriving Wilson?

Back to Moon. He was added to the AFC squad in 1997, while playing for the Seahawks. And Moon’s addition came with even shorter notice. He flew to Honolulu at midweek, practiced with the AFC squad once and then was voted Pro Bowl MVP after scoring the game-winning touchdown on a 1-yard run in the fourth quarter and also completing 4 of 8 passes for 89 yards in the AFC’s 29-24 victory – including a 20-yarder to Tim Brown on third down during a 10-play, 46-yard drive to a fourth-quarter field goal; and a 57-yarder to Brown on a three-play, 51-yard drive to a TD run that cut the NFC’s lead to 24-23. Moon’s run for what proved to be the game-winning score was setup when Seahawks defensive end Michael Sinclair recovered a fumble.

So, being a late addition doesn’t translate into being left out of the Pro Bowl action.

That game was the last of Moon’s nine Pro Bowls during his 17-season NFL career, while Wilson will be playing in his first.

Wilson’s addition to the NFC squad pushes the total number of Seahawks scheduled to play in Sunday’s game to six, which ties for the second-highest number in franchise history as Wilson joins left tackle Russell Okung and center Max Unger, who were voted starters; Leon Washington, the kick returner; free safety Earl Thomas, now a starter because the 49ers’ Dashon Goldson has dropped out because of preparations for the Super Bowl; and running back Marshawn Lynch, the backup to the Minnesota Vikings’ Adrian Peterson.

While Lynch and Thomas are in the Pro Bowl for the second consecutive season, Washington went in 2008 while playing for the New York Jets and Buffalo Bills. This is the first Pro Bowl for Unger and Okung. And, of course, Wilson.

The size of the contingent is significant, because the only times more Seahawks went to the Pro Bowl came in 2005, when that team posted a franchise-best 13-3 record during its run to the Super Bowl; and 1984, when that team went 12-4. The 2007 team also sent six players, and that was the last time the Seahawks had a winning record (10-6) before the 2012 team went 11-5 and won the franchise’s first road playoff game since 1983.

“The guys that have made it have worked hard for us, and hopefully we get other guys in the game, too,” coach Pete Carroll said after the Pro Bowl squads were announced. “It’s a big deal to the players – and the first-time guys who got announced with Max Unger and Russell Okung, and all of the guys who got recognition as alternates, as well.”

Especially when one of the eight Seahawks who got alternate status ends up being added to the squad.