Seattle Seahawks

Russell Wilson’s birthday week: Meeting Stevie Wonder, attending Grey Cup, fixing red-zone offense

Russell Wilson will be running for “Higher Ground” against the swarming Eagles pass rush.

But before he hopes to be “Overjoyed” on a “Fun Day” in Philadelphia, Russell Wilson has a week befitting a “Sir Duke”.

“Got to see Stevie Wonder last night. That was a true treat to my day and last night,” Wilson said, unsolicited, to begin his weekly press conference on Thursday.

Wednesday night Wilson attended the legendary musician’s concert at KeyArena in Seattle Center.

“He went on stage around 8:15. I went from like 8:45 to 9:45. I got to meet him at intermission,” Wilson said. “That was one the best things I’ve ever done in my life, is to meet Stevie Wonder.”

Asked if Wonder the 64-year old born in Saginaw, Michigan, as Stevland Hardaway Morris is a fan of the Seahawks’ quarterback, Wilson just about cackled.

“I don’t know if he’s a fan of mine. I know I’m a fan of his,” Wilson said.

A day earlier, the quarterback had Earth, Wind & Fire, Cheryl Lynn and Wild Cherry playing on a stereo in his locker.

“Just to meet him and hear him sing, he’s one of the greatest of all time — if not the greatest. So, a true treat,” Wilson said of Wonder. “He asked me if I had my Super Bowl ring on. I said, ‘No, I don’t have it on. I’ll make sure I’ll try to get you one, though.’

“Just a tremendous honor.”

The Seahawks had four days off following their Thanksgiving-night win at San Francisco, and Saturday was Wilson’s 26th birthday. He and teammate Russell Okung went to Vancouver and attended Sunday’s Grey Cup, the championship game of the Canadian Football League.

They got the red-carpet treatment from the CFL. They met players from the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and Calgary Stampeders before the game, sat in a suite to watch the game and posed for pictures with the league’s commissioner.

“I think they rolled the red carpet out for ‘Big Russ,’ not for me,” Wilson said, laughing.

Asked how his scrambling, running, free-wheeling game might translate in the wide-open CFL, Wilson said: “I don’t know how my game would translate. Hopefully, pretty good.

“But hopefully I don’t play in the Canadian Football League,” he added, smiling. “Hopefully I get to play for the Seattle Seahawks for 15, 20 years, how about that?”

The Seahawks are glad he’s on their side of the border.

Wilson has completed 32 of 44 passes (72.7 percent) with two touchdowns and no turnovers in Seattle’s past two games, with 447 yards passing and another 108 yards rushing. Those were in the wins over the division-leading Cardinals and NFC West-rival 49ers in a span of five days last week. They’ve revitalized the Super Bowl champions to within a game of Arizona atop the division.

Wilson’s up to 63.9 percent on his completion rate this season, a tick above his career average of 63.7, with 15 touchdowns and 5 interceptions. His 679 yards rushing with four games remaining in the regular season are 360 yards away from Michael Vick’s 2006 NFL season record for a quarterback (1,039). Wilson is the only quarterback with more than 30 rushes this season to not lose a fumble.

Seattle’s nine combined fumbles lost and interceptions thrown are the second-fewest giveaways in the league, just behind Green Bay (eight).

“First and foremost, he’s doing a great job taking care of the ball,” Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said. “That’s one thing we preach around here.”

Bevell’s unit enters Sunday’s test at Philadelphia (9-3) first in the NFL in rushing offense — thanks to Wilson and Marshawn Lynch, who is fifth in the league with 956 yards and first with nine rushing touchdowns. But Seattle is just 13th in total offense because it is 29th in passing (192.4 yards per game).

Yet all people have talked about recently concerning Wilson and the offense is their stalling inside the opponents’ 20-yard line. One touchdown in four trips last week at San Francisco leaves Seattle just 25 for 53 (47.2 percent) on touchdown conversions in the “red zone” this season. Only six teams have a lower percentage rate (including Philadelphia at 43.5).

Costly penalties and sacks are large reasons Seattle keeps settling for three points instead of scoring six inside the 20. For instance, Robert Turbin’s pass-interference foul on offense wiped out Paul Richardson’s short touchdown catch in San Francisco.

Wilson says it’s the No. 1 issue for the Seahawks’ offense to improve in the final month of the regular season.

“I think we have to be lights out in the red zone,” he said. “When it comes down to championship football, we have to be lights out in the red zone. Be lights out on third down. That’s pretty simple. That’s pretty much it.”

Bevell, the playcaller, had an even simpler answer for what his offense needs to do in the red zone.

“Score touchdowns. That’s what we can do,” Bevell said.

“We’re continuing to look at it each and every week. Like I say all the time, there’s just little things here and there. You know, we score a touchdown and we get an offensive pass-interference so there’s one that all of the sudden changes things. Now you’re second-and-17 on the 17, and it’s going to be a different challenge to be able to get to the end zone from there.

“There are all kinds of things that come up, but (it’s) overall execution — and make sure we take care of vision.”


When Wilson was a college junior in 2010, he was an upcoming football season at North Carolina State away from graduating there, and was playing Class-A baseball that summer for the Tri-City Dust Devils of the Northwest League.

During a road series in Eugene, Oregon, four years ago, then-University of Oregon and now-Eagles football coach Chip Kelly showed Wilson around the university’s swanky, Nike-backed athletic facilities. Wilson was about to become something of a college-football free agent at the time, on his way to graduating from N.C. State and playing football elsewhere as a fifth-year transfer — though Kelly said Wednesday: “We were never involved at that point in time,” trying to woo Wilson to become a Duck. So apparently he gave a Class-A baseball player with college-football eligibility remaining a tour of Oregon’s facilities just because.

“It was a great experience,” Wilson said of Kelly and Oregon. “Everything that they have there, the way that he approached the game of football, just his players — a great players’ coach. Very much like Coach (Pete) Carroll.”

Turns out Wilson did consider playing for Kelly and Oregon as a transfer in 2011. Yes, Seattle’s star quarterback could have been a Duck. He, like Eagles quarterback Mark Sanchez, could have been facing his old college coach on Sunday in Philadelphia.

Would that have made you like him any less?

“Yeah, I thought about Oregon for a second there,” Wilson said. “It’s a great football school and (it has) done a lot of great things.

“But I ended up narrowing it down to Auburn and Wisconsin — and decided to go to Wisconsin.”


Marshawn Lynch (back) returned to practice on a limited basis. Starting CB Byron Maxwell (shin) was also limited. TE Cooper Helfet (sprained ankle) and nickel DB Jeremy Lane (gluteus) sat out and remain iffy at best for Sunday. C Max Unger (high-ankle sprain, twisted knee) remained out until at least next week. … DE Michael Bennett missed practice with the same toe injury for which the team rested him this past month. … The active roster still has an open spot in the wake of rookie LB Kevin Pierre-Louis going on injured reserve a week ago.