Russell Wilson has a ton to be thankful for right now.
He’s one of 32 men in the world with a specific job: starting quarterback in the NFL. He’s been that since his first game in the league, more than six years ago.
Yes, he’s earned perks from that job. A Super Bowl ring. An $87.6 million contract. A mansion along Lake Washington on the western edge of suburban Bellevue.
None of that is what the Seahawks’ franchise QB mentioned when I asked him Wednesday what he’s thankful for.
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“I was thinking about that this morning, actually, driving in,” Wilson said before the pre-Thanksgiving practice for Sunday’s playoff-race showdown at Carolina.
“I’m thankful for my family. I’m just thankful for love. Thankful for my wife (pop-music star Ciara), who she is and the person that she is and what she means to our family. I’m thankful for our kids.
“I’ve always wanted to have kids. I’ve always loved children. I knew I was going to have kids at some point in my lifetime, but I never knew that it would be the greatest miracle that I would ever experience.
“I think that, for me, just having kids and what life means and what breath means, and being able to wake up your kids and put them down to bed, put them to sleep, go play with them, play Little League ball with them—or I never forget changing (daughter) Sienna’s first diaper when she first came out—those things, you know, you realize that they change your life.
“Hopefully, I can always make an impact in their lives. Hopefully, I can always show them what love looks like, what life looks like, and always encourage them and always challenge them to love people, to be the best people that they can be. Those are things I am thankful for.”
Wilson, who turns 30 next week, had always talked openly about football and about his parents and family growing up. He has spoken publicly more about fatherhood since he married Ciara in July 2016, welcoming her young son Future into his family. The couple’s daughter was born in the spring of 2017.
Yes, Wilson is also thankful for what his football skills have afforded him.
Last week in his and his team’s rally late past Green Bay he tied Dave Krieg for the Seahawks’ franchise record with his 70th victory as a quarterback in the regular season.
He said that record means plenty to him, because the first goal he set entering the NFL as Seattle’s third-round draft choice in 2012 was to win.
With Seattle’s victory at Arizona on Sept. 30 Wilson passed Matt Hasselbeck as the franchise’s career leader in quarterback wins for both the regular season and playoffs.
Wilson currently has an overall record of 78-39-1, including 70-35-1 in the regular season.
“I’m also thankful for this opportunity that God has given me to play the game,” he said. “I thank God every day that I get to play football, you know. I get to be around some amazing people and an amazing culture, and that’s one of the greatest gifts, as well.
“And then something that we always take for granted is breath. I think back to when my dad was on his death bed (Harrison Wilson III died on June 9, 2010, after a battle with cancer). He had a breathing mask on his face. Those are tough times, you know?
“I think back to breath. There are some people in the hospital right now that don’t have breath, really, and have something breathing for them. So I’m grateful that I get to breath, and get to experience life every day. And just have some amazing people around me.”
Wilson is going back this week close to where he went to high school in Richmond, Va.; Charlotte, N.C., where the Seahawks will play the Panthers on Sunday, is about a 4 1/2-hour drive from Richmond.
He has fond memories of Thanksgiving in Virginia.
“I remember when I was a young kid going up to D.C. and going up to the Virginia Beach area, and seeing my grandparents in Virginia Beach and seeing my other family members in D.C. Just spending so much family time, watching the games,” he said. “I remember spending time with my cousin Rob and my brother and just the rest of our family, we’d always watch the Cowboys games, those big games.
“And leftovers was key. Gotta have leftovers. Gotta make a leftovers sandwich. White bread. Wonder bread, mayo and everything else, make a great turkey sandwich.
“And our favorite movie, we’d always watch at the end of every Thanksgiving, at the end of the night we’d always watch the (1999) movie Life (starring Eddie Murphy and Martin Lawrence). Every Thanksgiving.”
“Thanksgiving is right up my alley. I’m from the South, so smoked turkey is always great. Mac-n-cheese is always on point. Those are the two things I go after the most. Stuffing is always good. And at the end you always have to end up with apple pie.
“I hope I don’t eat too much, though. I’ve got a game on Sunday. See, back in the day I could eat all that, when I was younger. Now I’ve got to be more conscious of how much I eat.”