Russell Wilson was a busy man the past couple months. Following the conclusion of Seattle's offseason workout program, the Seahawks quarterback was constantly making moves, releasing his own television series on ESPN, debuting a signature Nike shoe, attending award shows in L.A., and embarking on a series of overseas adventures through London, China, and South Africa, where Wilson and his wife Ciara enjoyed a delayed honeymoon around the time of their two-year marriage anniversary.
Meeting with the Seattle-area media after Friday's training camp practice at Renton's Virginia Mason Athletic Center, Wilson was asked for an offseason highlight, and the seventh-year pro reminisced about a moment he encountered in South Africa.
"I've always wanted to go to Africa, I've always wanted to go to Cape Town. (Ciara's) been a bunch," Wilson said. "But the best part about Africa was going to the townships. We went to the townships and one of the coolest things was seeing the joy on these kids' faces when they didn't have anything at all. I think about just in America and I think about our own personal lives that we all live and when I see somebody who's 10-, 13-, 14-, 15-years old who has nothing but yet can still live a life of full joy and happiness, and just love dancing with Ciara, or love throwing the football — they had never seen football. The curiosity and watching these kids throw a ball when they had never thrown before was fascinating to me and how good they were throwing, they were throwing spirals on day one. To be able to throw with them, that was the most gratifying thing, probably, I've ever experienced. ... Just seeing kids with joy when they have absolutely nothing financially, or they might not even have parents, or whatever it is. That was pretty cool, so I was grateful for that experience."
Other South Africa-related highlights included trips to Table Mountain, Botswana, and Medikwe, a visit to the Cape of Good Hope, which Wilson said "was really cool to see where the Atlantic Ocean and Indian Ocean crash into each other," and an "amazing" mission to help save a pair of rhinos, which involved microchipping the animals' horns in an effort to save the species from poachers.
"To be able to microchip these rhinos too was pretty fascinating too," Wilson said. "... With a veterinarian and everything else, they safely dart the rhino so that way the heart's beating and everything else but they fall down gently and then you have about, 15 or 20 minutes, something like that. They cover up the eyes just for the sun just to make sure they don't mess up their eyes and everything else. Then you take their DNA, you get the hair, you get the blood, everything else, and then you're able to — without saying too much — you're able to put a microchip in their horn, essentially. That way when somebody steals their horn you know where they are. Or if the rhino's running around and something's going on they can track the rhino."
Wilson said he and Ciara chose to name the two microchipped rhinos after their children's middle names.
"There's a Zahir and there's a Princess running around, named after our kids," he said. "So that's kind of cool."