The 7-6 Seahawks have been playoff contenders in 2022 thanks to a balance of veteran presence and young talent, led by a history-making rookie class. Episode 8 of The Sound takes a look at the leader under center – 10th-year quarterback Geno Smith.
In Seattle's 17-16 season-opening victory over the Denver Broncos, Smith threw for two touchdowns. After leading the team to a victory to kick off the season, Smith made a statement that has stuck.
"They wrote me off, I ain't write back though," he said in an on-field postgame interview.
Over the course of 13 weeks, Smith has climbed into the top-10 in numerous passing categories, earning Comeback Player of the Year consideration from several outlets. After several years as a backup journeyman, the West Virginia alum continues to defy the odds. Episode 8 gives a look at the leader Smith is on and off the field, as the world learns who Smith is nearly a decade after being drafted by the New York Jets.
Episode 8 starts with Seattle's game-winning drive in Week 13's 27-23 win over the Los Angeles Rams. Capping off a three-touchdown performance, Smith finds wideout DK Metcalf coming across the middle of the endzone with the clock dwindling. As Seattle sends love to Seahawks Legend Bobby Wagner in his first game in a new jersey, the episode gives us a look at the veteran presence stepping up in his place.
Week 10's international matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Allianz Arena in Munich took place in front of 69,811 fans. Despite the 21-16 loss, many Seattle players were able to get the experience of a lifetime abroad. Namely rookie corner Tariq Woolen, who takes the camera in Episode 8 to show his hotel room and give some pre-game love to veteran guard Gabe Jackson.
"That man's Big Game," said Woolen. "Real vet right here. He don't want the camera on him. This one of my favorite vets around here, real dude."
After getting a chance to work out on FC Bayern's pitch (field) and learn the difference between soccer and football from the hometown players, Smith expresses gratitude for the opportunity.
"It was just an awesome experience," said Smith. "Just to be there with the guys and take on a whole new adventure. In a new place, somewhere we all pretty much had never been before. To also get a chance to use the Bayern Munich feel and get acclimated to what life's like over there for them. With the World Cup and everything going on right now, I think it was extra special because we got up-close and personal with those players who are now playing."
While the Seahawks got an opportunity to join the Buccaneers in helping to expand the game abroad this year, they were visited by two special Hall of Fame guests at practice. St. Louis Rams Legend Kurt Warner and Dallas Cowboys Legend Michael Irvin gave the team a pep talk prior to gameday, with Warner shouting out Smith.
"One thing we love watching this year," said Warner. "I know not a lot of people had high expectations for you guys. You guys have exceeded all expectations. And it's been a blast to watch you guys come together. All the youth that you have, the great veterans you have. Man, Geno, killing it my man."
For many, Smith's resiliency is one of the league's best stories of 2022. Through all of the attention and accolades, Smith's poise has remained the same.
"One of the biggest evolutions for me in my leadership has been just having patience," said Smith. "Really understanding what patience and grace can do for you and others. As a leader, things aren't going to be perfect. There's going to be ups and downs. You're going to get upset sometimes, but understanding it takes patience in order to gain or attain anything. And then having grace, and understanding mistakes are going to happen but you have to learn from them."
Seahawks rookie running back Kenneth Walker III gets mic'd up in Episode 8 to discuss why Smith is the "O.G." In this context, the 32-year-old quarterback is the "old guy" to the Michigan State alum halfway through his rookie campaign.
"Old Guy yeah," said a chuckling Walker. "He's a great leader. He's always focused and committed. In meetings, he's still writing notes down and he's been in the league for a minute. But, to see him still writing notes and soaking it all in is inspirational. And he's always focused. That's him, he's a focused guy and he always wants to win."
The world of sports is small when you are an elite athlete, and Episode 8 also shares the gripping story of the connection between Walker and late University of Virginia wideout Devin Chandler. In November, Chandler was part of a mass shooting which left three Cavaliers football players dead. As part of the NFL's My Cause My Cleats initiative, Walker III dedicated his Week 14 kicks to his former high school teammate. An emotional Walker breaks down explaining his relationship with his lost friend.
"Devin was wide receiver and I was running back," said Walker. "He was just super cool. Like Dev, I remember I used to have his name saved in my phone as 'Future NFL star.' We used to always talk about going to the league together. We always looked up to Odell (Beckham) and Jarvis Landry. Because they were like best friends, and we wanted to be like that. And we would always compete at everything, in a good way though, not a bad way. I used to be like 'Oh bro, I bet my GPA is gonna be higher than yours by the end of the semester.' That was just like my little brother, he didn't know how to drive at one point and I let him drive my car. And just small stuff like that. Dev went through a lot, and his pops had cancer. We were both in high school, I believe it was Dev's junior year, and his pops ended up passing away. And Dev ended up playing the game that week, and he still fought through and everything. Because he knew his pops would want him to. Dev was just inspirational to everybody around him. You talk to somebody that knows Dev, you'll understand. Bro was just super funny and always energetic. It's just great to have somebody like him around. I just want to say like, cherish the people that you love because you never know if that's the last time you'll see them."
Behind-the-scenes of Episode 8 of The Sound, featuring the Seahawks' historic trip to Munich, insights from Geno Smith, the story behind Kenneth Walker III's "My Cause My Cleats" design, and more. Read more here.