Russell Wilson was on ESPN Radio today with Colin Cowherd, and the first question the host asked the Seahawks' two-time Super Bowl quarterback was "You aren't going to play baseball and leave the NFL, right?"
"I didn't say I was going to leave the NFL," Wilson responded. "Obviously, I love playing the game of football. It's been something that is a tremendous thing, obviously, to be one of 32 men in the world to get to do what I do. It's a special, special thing. To have been fortunate enough to win a lot of football games -- I've been fortunate enough to play in two Super Bowls in my first three years, I'm only 26 years old, so it's been a blessing in my life.
"Baseball, you know, has been something that's been my first love, something that I've played since I was three years old. It's something that's meant a lot to me. It was my dad's dream for me to play two sports (which he did while in college at North Carolina State). So I've never killed the dream. I probably never will. It's something I think about all the time."
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Wilson raised some eyebrows this month on HBO's "Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel" when he told Gumbel: "I may push the envelope a little bit one of these days. That's why the Texas Rangers got my rights (by selecting Wilson a couple years ago in baseball's minor-league free-agent draft). They want me to play. Jon Daniels, the GM, wants me to play. We were talking about it the other day."
But last weekend Daniels told Dallas-area reporters that the Rangers intend to stay out of Wilson's athletic career.
"Russell has the competitiveness and work ethic to where he'd have a shot if he committed to baseball," Daniels said. "Obviously, he's got a pretty good thing going on with the Seahawks and we're not going to get in the way of that. Playing quarterback is more intensive than the positions of other guys who have attempted to play both sports."
Wilson's comments to Gumbel about baseball came off to many as a leverage act in his ongoing negotiations with the Seahawks to extend the third-round draft choice's rookie contract; that deal will be in its fourth and final year at a woefully under-market $1.5 million in base pay for the 2015 season. With Wilson's comments and those of Seahawks general manager John Schneider this month, the contract situation has gotten more public and stickier than expected.
“We have a track record of rewarding our players that we recognize as core players,” Schneider told Seattle's KIRO FM. “Every negotiation is unique in and of itself. And this is no different. He’s our quarterback. We’d love him to be our quarterback. But the thing is, we need to keep as many of these guys together as we possibly can.
“We have had talks with Russell obviously,” Schneider said. “We’d like to move forward now with a number of our guys who going to be unrestricted next year: Russell, obviously being our quarterback, (All-Pro middle linebacker) Bobby Wagner, (guard J.R.) Sweezy, (wide receiver) Jermaine Kearse — we have a number of unrestricted guys.”
Schneider brought up his five-year-old regime's history of making tough decisions, including letting defensive end Cory Redding and wide receiver Nate Burleson walk at the end of their contracts.
“They were two guys that we had a lot of respect for, but where we were on our cap at the time, we had to make decisions,” he said. “We’re back in a world with a salary cap and we need to be cognizant of that.
“We want to be a consistent championship-caliber football team, one that the community and the Northwest is extremely proud of every year and has high expectations and hopes for. We have to be able to protect ourselves as we go and make smart decisions in trying to keep this whole thing together as long as we possibly can.”
As for baseball, the Seahawks' and Texas Rangers' GMs think alike.
“I think one of the primary things that really attracted Russell to us — I know me in particular — was the confidence he has in himself and the goals, dreams, aspirations. He’s off the charts in terms of his confidence level and the way he views himself, so it doesn’t surprise me that he would think that way,” Schneider said of Wilson and baseball. “Quite frankly, I haven’t thought much about the baseball aspect of it. Based on the position that he plays in football, I think it would be difficult."
You can listen to Wilson's interview today here, or in the link at the start of this post. In it you hear more about Wilson's favorite pasttime away from football: hanging out with his Great Danes Prince and Naomi -- "They are two horses," he said; how he's a "homebody, really"; and how he's spent the past three months working in San Diego with his personal trainer.
One thing Wilson will be doing this year besides football is hosting a kids TV show.
Nicklelodeon television announced today Wilson will host the second annual Kids' Choice Awards July 16 from Los Angeles. Hall of Fame pass rusher Michael Strahan hosted the show last summer.
"What kid doesn't want to get slimed?" Wilson says in the promotional release of the announcement. "Count me in on that."
As he told Cowherd today: "I can't wait to slime a bunch of athletes...maybe even Malcolm Butler, maybe I will get him, too."
Yes, Wilson owes the New England Patriots defensive back one.