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Closing In On 100th Win, Seahawks Quarterback Russell Wilson Is "Just Getting Warmed Up"

Following the Seahawks’ third preseason game in 2012, Russell Wilson was summoned to a basketball hoop set up in parking lot just outside the VMAC locker room.

Quarterback Russell Wilson greets and shouts encouragement to head coach Pete Carroll along with every player, coach and staff member as they return to the locker room after pregame warmups.
Quarterback Russell Wilson greets and shouts encouragement to head coach Pete Carroll along with every player, coach and staff member as they return to the locker room after pregame warmups.

When he went outside, the rookie quarterback found Pete Carroll shooting hoops and wasn't sure what to make of the scene.

"He had one of the equipment guys come and get me, and he's shooting outside," Wilson said. "We used to have a hoop outside, and I was like 'OK, this is weird.' I go outside and he's like 'Hey, do you want to play basketball?' And I was like 'Not really.' He's like 'Let's have a 3-point contest,' so I said all right."

The results of that 3-point contest are lost to time, though Carroll says he won two out of three, but the conversation those two share was the beginning of one of the most successful coach-quarterback partnerships in NFL history.

After shooting hoops for a bit and maybe or maybe not winning a 3-point competition, Carroll informed Wilson that the rookie was going to open the season as the starting quarterback.

"The hoop used to be outside of the building in the parking lot, I took him outside to talk about starting his first game and tell him that he was going to be the starter," Carroll said. "I said to him at that time that, 'Over the time that we were going to do this, you and I are going to do this a lot together, because you are going to be the guy they talk to and talk about, and I am too, so we need to do this really, really well.' And we both took the challenge and let's go. He was a young pup at the time, and he was maybe wondering what I was talking about, but it's turned out that way. Obviously he's been in the center of everything, and he's handled it beautifully over the long haul of this. It's very challenging to do what these quarterbacks do. How much more exposure can a young athlete have?"

Until that moment Wilson wasn't sure what news his coach was going to be delivering when he was summoned out to that parking lot hoop, but he figured it'd be significant one way or neither.

"It was 50/50, he was either going to tell me I was going to start, or I'm not going to start. He's going to break my heart or… I had a feeling it was going to be a good thing," Wilson said. "I had put in the work, and age is just a number. I always say that experience is only necessary for those that are unqualified, and I was qualified because of the work. God has granted me the opportunity to do it, I took advantage of every moment, and still do to this day."

To say Wilson has taken advantage of that moment and those that have followed would be a pretty significant understatement, which is why heading into the second game of his 10th season, Wilson is one win away from his 100th career regular-season victory.

Whenever he wins his next game, Wilson will become the second quarterback, along with Hall of Famer Peyton Manning, to win 100 games as a starter in his first 10 seasons, and with seven more wins he would pass Manning for the most wins by a starting quarterback in his first 10 seasons. Wilson can also become the third fastest to 100 wins in terms of games started at quarterback. Tom Brady won his 100th game in 131 starts, Joe Montana in 139, and third on the list is Terry Bradshaw who got win No. 100 in his 147th start. Sunday's game will be Wilson's 146th career start.

Joining that kind of company is significant to Wilson because those are quarterbacks best known for helping their teams win games and championships, and the way Wilson sees it, he has one primary goal as the quarterback of the Seahawks.

"I have one simple job, that's to help the Seattle Seahawks win," Wilson said. "It's a job that I love, it's a blessing to be able to do it. Every day I wake up, I strap on my cleats, and come to work, whether it's in the offseason, early in the morning, late at night, or during the season. That's what I'm built to do. To be in the same category as Tom Brady or Joe Montana in my first 10 years is a blessing, but I haven't done it yet, we have to go and win. For me, the biggest thing is to keep going and keep winning, that's what the game is about. Anything else is not in my mindset, so every day I wake up it's to win, to help our team win, provide, have great habits in our approach, and do things at the highest level possible. I've been fortunate to play against some of the greatest quarterbacks ever, Drew Brees, Peyton Manning, and Tom Brady—I didn't get to play against Joe (Montana)—but when you think about it, those are guys I really respected along the way because of how they've done it and how they've been so successful over the years. Hopefully I can keep going."

In addition to those impressive benchmarks for team success, Wilson is also climbing the all-time list for passing touchdowns, currently ranking 19th with 271. With three more, Wilson will pass Montana on the list, and he can move all the way to 11th on that list this year with 30 touchdowns this season, which would be a below-average total for him. With a strong season, Wilson could also pass Manning for the most touchdown passes through 10 seasons (306), and he's currently already third on that last behind Manning and Dan Marino (290) despite having almost his entire 10th season still to play.

"It's just another one of the statements that adds to remarkable start to his career that we've all witnessed and been a part of," Carroll said when asked about Wilson closing in on 100 wins. "The numbers are obvious, and you can look at it a ton of different ways, and he's up there with the best to ever play the game, and he's just getting warmed up, that's what it feels like. We've been very fortunate to be part of his entry into the league, and he's been fortunate to be here too at the right time because he's been received, accepted, and pushed to find his best. It's been a real cooperation, I think. I'm really excited and will always be really excited about the way we work with him."

Linebacker Bobby Wagner, who has started all but a handful of those 99 regular-season wins—Wagner has missed nine games to injury while Wilson remarkably has missed none—arrived in Seattle the same year as Wilson, and the two also worked out together with a group of draft prospects earlier in the year, and it didn't take long for Wagner to recognize that it was only matter of time before Wilson was going to be leading the team's offense.

"When I watched him walk into the building and I saw how he carried himself, I knew he was going to be the starter," Wagner said. "It was only a matter of time. I know they had signed Matt Flynn, but it was only a matter of time. He was preparing like a starter, he was acting like a starter, and he was acting like somebody that anybody wanted to follow."

And now, nearly a decade later, Wilson is bringing the same drive that helped him win the starting job, hoping now to join rare company with his 100th career win in less than 10 full seasons.

"Every day, I'm going to bring everything I have, I'm going leave it all out there, and I think attitude is everything," he said. "So for me, just to be able to get every opportunity to be a part of this team in my rookie year, to be able play right away, then to be playing, fighting for my 100th regular-season win and then also to be able to play in a lot of football games has been a lot of fun. You can't take it for granted. Every day, it's a lifestyle. I've said this before, but a lifestyle can't be random. Every day has to be consistent, there has to be a plan and a thought process. I think the same thing in terms of longevity and the thought process around that too."

The Seahawks and Titans face off on Sunday, Dec. 24, 2023. Kickoff is set for 10 a.m. PT. Take a look back through history at the Seahawks' matchups against the Titans.

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