There's a lot happening on the sidelines just before the start of an NFL game, but Pete Carroll still took a moment to pay attention as the starting defense was announced just before kickoff.
After 10 other players were introduced, the stadium announcer got only as far as, "At linebacker, from Utah State," before a huge roar drowned out Bobby Wagner's name being called.
Following one season with the Rams, Wagner was back home to kick off his 11th season in Seattle and 12th in the NFL. And when he took the field before Sunday's season opener, fans produced one of the loudest pregame cheers anyone could recall hearing at Lumen Field.
"I thought that was amazing," Carroll said. "I felt it. I felt the response of the fans to him. I think he played a really good ballgame today. I couldn't tell all of it, but I thought he played really well today and it meant a lot to him. I thought he did a really good job of being poised about it, like you would hope and expect he would playing his old team and all that kind of stuff. I thought that was an extraordinary statement by our fans of appreciation and love for the guy who has given so much to this program and all of that. He deserves every bit of it, and I thought it was a perfect moment."
Running back DeeJay Dallas succinctly summed up that moment, saying, "Seattle loves Bobby. I love Bobby. He makes playing football fun. Having Bobby back in Seattle is amazing."
Once the game began, Wagner wasted no time making his presence felt, tackling Cam Akers for no gain to record Seattle's first tackle of the season. It was one of 19 tackles Wagner had on Sunday, a total that fell one short of the franchise record he shares with Jordyn Brooks. But while Wagner showed off the playmaking ability that will someday lead to his enshrinement in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, that tackle total also highlighted, indirectly, one of the negatives for the Seahawks in a 30-13 loss. One reason Wagner was able to make so many tackles is that the defense was on the field for 78 plays, the result of the Rams converting 11 of 17 third downs, including eight of their first 10.
Wagner of course wishes his first game back with the Seahawks would have had a different outcome, but he did feel the love from the 12s as they welcomed him back, much like he also was moved last season when he returned to Lumen Field as a member of the Rams and received a warm welcome.
"It was cool," Wagner said. "I mean, it's always been love from even the moment I left, coming back. They've always had a piece of my heart. It was something that was really special. Unfortunately, we couldn't give them the win."
Wagner's teammates loved having him back on the field as much as the fans did, if not even more.
"Having a guy like that next to me makes my job 10-times easier," fellow inside linebacker Jordyn Brooks said. "The communication part of it is probably the biggest part. I don't know how many tackles he had; he probably had 100 tackles today. I just appreciate playing next to him. We'll get over this one and bounce back."
Said nose tackle Jarran Reed, "Captain Wagz, That's our guy. We all love Wagz here. Personally, I think he's a gold jacket (Hall of Fame), and I love playing with him."
Check out some of the best action shots from the season opener vs the Rams at Lumen Field on September 10, 2023. Game action photos are presented by Washington's Lottery. This gallery will be updated throughout the game.