Wilson wants to keep Pro Bowl alive so he can win MVP

dave.boling@thenewstribune.comJanuary 29, 2013 

After Russell Wilson’s third touchdown pass of the third quarter, the announcers stated the obvious, that the Seahawks rookie quarterback looked like a shoo-in as the Pro Bowl MVP.

He’d been the game’s most effective player, with three touchdowns in just 10 pass attempts, and also the most exciting, doing those things Russell Wilson does – darting around Hawaii like a mongoose to avoid capture.

So, it took some throat clearing when they announced that Wilson was passed over as MVP in favor of Minnesota tight end Kyle Rudolph, who had five catches and one touchdown.

Gee, imagine Russell Wilson’s surprise at being overlooked.

That’s OK, Seahawks fans, this will work in your favor. Because I suspect that somewhere in Russell Wilson’s mental hard drive, there’s a lengthy spreadsheet of slights, oversights, insults and affronts.

They’re dated and collated by degree of gall. And this may just be another that brings him back ever more focused.

The appearance of Wilson and five other Seahawks made Sunday’s Pro Bowl tolerable in stretches. And it was a worthy investment in time for the evidence it offered about the state of the Seahawks heading toward the fall.

Of the six Seahawks in action Sunday, five are 26 or younger, with only kick returner Leon Washington the outlier (30). Four of the six have been in the league four or fewer seasons.

All are under contract for next season, and with health and good fortune, most of them look likely to return to the Pro Bowl – with several other teammates who are obvious threats to join them.

That’s if the NFL continues the all-star game at all. Although NBC won the ratings for Sunday night with the game, it was nonetheless down 8 percent from last year.

The game is dealing with the obvious flaw that its casual nature eliminates football’s basic appeal … competitive intensity.

Last year’s Pro Bowl so resembled the annual PowderPuff game between the Pi Phis and Tri-Delts that commissioner Roger Goodell threatened to dump it entirely. And this is the man whose mission has been to diminish violent contact in the NFL.

In large part thanks to the energetic contributions of the Seahawks’ representatives, this edition had better pace. This was more in the line of a practice speed drill that some coaches call “thud,” which means running hard to the ball, delivering a hit forceful enough to make a sound, and then ceasing hostilities. It’s a safer facsimile of real football.

There’s no way to measure this, but the thuds created by the Seahawks were noticeable.

Washington not only tried to return every kick that stayed inbounds (and set a Pro Bowl record with a 92-yarder), he also appeared to make every tackle on AFC returner Josh Cribbs – who happens to be tied with Washington for career TD returns. Washington seemed personally dedicated to keeping Cribbs from scoring.

Safety Earl Thomas intercepted a pass and delivered a couple of game-speed hits. Marshawn Lynch scored a TD and went at least partial Beast Mode on one run when he was surrounded but refused to be taken down.

The two offensive linemen, center Max Unger and Russell Okung, were solid in a game in which it’s hard for one of their kind to stand out.

Washington told Seahawks.com after the game that he considered the Pro Bowl a springboard into next season.

“No doubt about it, this sets the tempo for next year,” he said. “(Opponents are) going to know whether they play the Seahawks in the Pro Bowl or the preseason, we’re going to come to play.”

And viewers previously unfamiliar with Wilson will come to learn that he makes for entertaining viewing whenever he gets the ball in his hands.

Interviewed on the sideline by Doug Flutie – whom Wilson towered over by at least an inch – the Seahawks rookie explained how much the week at the Pro Bowl meant to him.

The biggest thing, he said, was being able to spend time with quarterbacks such as Drew Brees and the Manning brothers. Really, though, it was the connection to Brees that he’s been looking to make, since Brees has been so successful while viewing the game from a similar stature.

Flutie asked Wilson his overall impression of the Pro Bowl.

“I hope they keep the Pro Bowl … so I can keep coming back,” he said.

The suspicion is that he’s got it in his mind to come back to claim an MVP trophy that already should have his name on it.

Dave Boling: 253-507-8440 dave.boling@thenewstribune.com @DaveBoling

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