Russell Wilson knows all about Dan Fouts. Charlie Joiner. Kellen Winslow. “Air Coryell.”
Heck, the Seahawks’ Super Bowl-winning quarterback could even sing San Diego’s favorite 1970s and ’80s song, the kitschy “San-D-e-go, Super Chargers!”
He COULD. But he won’t.
“No, I can’t sing that in here,” Wilson said Thursday inside Seahawks headquarters at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center. “I don’t know if that would work, singing it here. Not in the VMAC.”
And not this week, three days before Seattle (1-0) plays at San Diego (0-1) in the place that was known as San Diego Stadium back when Harrison Wilson III played for the Chargers during the 1980 exhibition season.
“The first football I ever touched was a San Diego Chargers football; my dad scored a touchdown — against the 49ers, ironically,” the younger Wilson said.
“That’s how I really learned to throw a football. That was the first football I touched, the first football I ever threw.”
He said he was about 4 years old at the time.
“For me, it’s a special thing, Qualcomm Stadium (as it’s now known), to go back there and walk in the stadium and play in that stadium,” Wilson said. “Dan Fouts was the quarterback at that time, Kellen Winslow … my dad used to tell me stories. Kellen Winslow Sr. always called him ‘The Professor.’ ”
Harrison Wilson III, star tight end Winslow’s training camp roommate in that summer of 1980, graduated from Dartmouth College. The elder Wilson followed that Ivy League degree by going to the University of Virginia School of Law, founded in 1819 by Thomas Jefferson. Only after that did Wilson’s dad briefly try out among eventual Pro Football Hall of Famers Fouts, Joiner and Winslow with that “Air Coryell” offense that electrified the relatively staid NFL 35 years ago.
“And he wore those big ol’ glasses,” Wilson said. “So they called him ‘The Professor.’
“Just all those memories. We had Kellen Winslow Jr. here at one point, my rookie season (training camp on 2012). The first thing, he came up to me and said, ‘Hey, my dad, I just wanted to let you know he still remembers your dad.’”
Wilson’s dad used to walk around the family home singing that “San-D-e-go Super Chargers!” song.
Harrison Wilson III passed away in 2010 from diabetes.
“At the end of the day, though, it’s not about that. It’s not about thinking about those memories,” his younger son said (Wilson’s older brother is Harrison IV). “It’s about winning the football game and focusing on that moment.”
Sunday’s 1:05 p.m. kickoff will be Wilson’s first real game playing on his dad’s former (briefly) home field; he played last preseason at Qualcomm. This time, he is leading a Seahawks offense that looks faster and more dimensional than it’s been since Wilson became the starter three seasons ago.
Wide receiver Percy Harvin is zooming, healthier than he’s been in a decade following offseason hip surgery. Marshawn Lynch is in what coach Pete Carroll says is his best shape yet and coming off a 110-yard performance in last week’s opener. Lynch led Seattle’s 207-yard rushing night against the Packers. Even Ricardo Lockette, better known for big hits on special teams, caught a 33-yard touchdown pass on a read-option pass last week — as the No. 4 wide receiver.
Wilson completed 19 passes to eight different receivers in 28 attempts for 191 yards, two touchdowns and a nifty passer rating of 110.9 in that 36-16 win over Green Bay. That was after he was 34-for-43 passing in four sparkling exhibition games, the highest completion rate of anybody who threw at least nine passes in the preseason.
“He’s like the point guard. He just has to move it around and make good decisions,” Carroll said. “And he takes care of it really well.”
Since hitting on 18-of-25 throws while winning the Super Bowl in February, Wilson has a completion rate of 75 percent with zero interceptions. That’s 11.4 percent higher than his career completion rate.
“For me, I want to always put us in a great situation and put us in a situation to execute and stay on schedule … and make the big-time plays, too,” he said. “The more that you can recognize things and pick up on what the defense is trying to do … that’s really what I’ve learned a lot of the past two years.”
His poise and presentation both on and off the field make the 25-year-old seem more like 55 in the way he presents himself. The quarterback began the public portion of his Thursday by remembering the significance of the day in the nation.
“The first thing I want to say is, it’s 9/11, so that’s a situation you can never forget. All the people that we lost, all the people that helped,” Wilson said. “That’s a sad day but also something that’s always going to be remembered. I just wanted to remember those people; I just wanted to say that.
“I was in middle school, I was in sixth grade, I think I was in math class at the time. I didn’t really know much about what was going on. At 9 o’clock in the morning everybody started freaking out. We turned on the news and watched it. It was just a sad day. Being from the East Coast I have a lot of friends that live in New York.”
Wilson said he has an aunt who lived near the World Trade Center and fled the area as the towers fell.
“She was luckily able to escape, essentially,” he said.
“It’s just a sad day,” he repeated. “But you also want to remember all the amazing people that we lost, too, at the same time.”
Earl Thomas said he understands Carroll’s decision this week to relieve him of punt return duties so he could focus solely on being an All-Pro safety. “It’s not about me, it’s about the team. I just took it that way,” Thomas said. “I’m all-in no matter the situation. (Replacement) Bryan Walters is a great returner. He deserves it.” Then he added wryly: “The fans can sleep a little easier and stop sending their regards in.” Yet Thomas made it clear he wants to continue returning punts. “I’m just here to do my job,” he said. “But one thing I can say is that I know I can be one of the best returners in the league, no matter what people say. I know my opportunity is going to come again and it’s going to be in a big moment.” … The Seahawks’ practice participation report was the same as Wednesday’s. RB Christine Michael (hamstring), LB Kevin Pierre-Louis (hamstring) and CB Tharold Simon (minor knee surgery last week) did not participate. TE Cooper Helfet (knee) was limited again. … Carroll said the team had been “really counting on” Simon to be a backup nickel back. When the second-year cornerback got hurt and starting nickel Jeremy Lane reinjured his groin, Seattle had to trade with Indianapolis for Marcus Burley. Burley will be the nickel DB at San Diego. … The forecast for Sunday is unseasonably warm for coastal, temperate San Diego, perhaps into the mid-90s.