Seahawks receiver DK Metcalf insists there will be no trash talk on Sunday between him and the player he refers to as a big brother, Rams linebacker Bobby Wagner.
But he couldn't resist getting in a playful barb at the expense of his former teammate when talking about what makes the future Hall of Fame linebacker so special.
"Even though it's year 10, 11, or 30, he still hasn't lost a step," Metcalf said, grinning after saying 30. "He's very smart. I'm pretty sure this is going to be the game that he circled, and he's going to try to prove something, and prove that he's still got it. I think it's going to be a fun matchup."
Jokes aside, the Seahawks know they'll be facing a great player and a fierce competitor in Wagner when they head to L.A. this weekend, and nobody is more aware of that than Pete Carroll, who coached Wagner for 10 seasons during which he established himself as one of the best players in team history, an All-Decade selection who was a six-time first-team All-Pro as a Seahawk.
"We've been watching and catching him all year, I love watching him," Carroll said. "He's a great player and was a great part of our program. Bobby knows, he knows that I love competing against him. It's one of the things that I've always cherished about him, people that you know really well and want to go against them and battle with them. I know that he will be ready to go.
"He's been so consistent for so long. He's a terrific athlete at the spot, an excellent tackler, diagnostics and all of that stuff, he has it all. It's his consistency that has been remarkable, that he's always there and he always battles. That's the only way we have ever known him."
Asked what the Seahawks miss about Wagner's presence on the team, Carroll answered, "We miss everything about him, there's no replacing him. He was unique, one of a kind guy."
Defensive coordinator Clint Hurtt said that in addition to being a Hall of Fame-caliber player, Wagner is also a "Hall of Fame person… His way of leadership is a great one, because he brings guys together. Him as an individual, as a person, his leadership style, he's outstanding. I think the world of him."
Talking to reporters in Los Angeles Wednesday, Wagner said Sunday will be, "just another game. It's just a game coming up played in our stadium against a team that's pretty good."
Wagner is able to treat this like any other game in part because of the way Carroll ran his team, preaching that every week is a championship opportunity and that no one game is bigger than another.
"It's pretty easy, because being a part of that organization, that's part of the method," he said. "You never make a game too big or too little, you never make like a Monday night game bigger, or an opponent bigger, because then it makes you inconsistent, because you'll get up for one game, then you won't get up for the next game. So I'm personally treating this game like it's a normal game."
Linebacker Cody Barton, who moved into a starting role this season alongside Jordyn Brooks following Wagner's departure, learned a lot about playing his position during his three years as Wagner's teammate.
"I learned a lot from him," he said. "We played together for three years, and he taught me a lot of tricks of the trade in the linebacker position. Not just on the field, but I would say off of the field, a lot about life as well… He taught me the power of good habits and the discipline that you have in your life. How it translates from on the field to off of the field and vice versa."
Even playing on the opposite side of the ball from Wagner, Metcalf learned a lot about what it takes to succeed at the NFL level by watching Wagner.
"I watched him on how he was such a professional with how he loved the game, and how he took care of his body, and how he studied all the time when everybody left the facility," Metcalf said. "He was still up here studying. So, just how to be a professional was one thing that I learned from him."
On a snowy day in the Pacific Northwest, the Virginia Mason Athletic Center in Renton, Wash. became a field of white on November 29, 2022.