RENTON, Washington. – Speaking to the media for the first time since last season’s finale, Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson didn’t mind talking about the game that helped make him famous.
“To be honest, I don’t even want to talk about football right now,” Wilson said during a video conference on Wednesday. “You know, that’s something I don’t even know what it looks like on the road or anything else. I think none of that matters. I can’t compare soccer to life and what the black community is going through right now.”
Wilson’s 35-minute session was as emotional as it has been in any formal setting during his previous eight seasons in Seattle. He relayed stories of his youth in Richmond, Virginia, and about raising two children now with a third one on the way.
In the past, the conversation with Wilson may have focused on the offseason changes to the Seattle offense and whether Wilson has enough weapons for the Seahawks to compete in a challenging NFC West.
But Wilson didn’t want to talk about Xs and Os, personnel changes, or even the odd virtual offseason. His tone was similar to how Seattle has led its team meetings since last week following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis and the nationwide protests that have followed.
A white police officer was charged with second-degree murder for the death of Floyd, a black man who was handcuffed. Prosecutors expanded their case against officers at the scene of Floyd’s death on Wednesday, accusing three of the officers of aiding and abetting a murder and improving charges against the officer who pressed his knee to Floyd’s neck.
“A man was killed last week. There has to be a change. There has to be a change. It’s not too complicated, “said Wilson.
In his “Flying Coach” podcast, released Tuesday night, coach Pete Carroll said he felt he had not done enough to create a change.
“We are trying to interact as much as we can with our boys and hear from them and listen and learn and grow and find a place where we can act and do something really positive,” said Carroll. “Our club has done it over the years, but we need to do more, we have never done it.”
Earlier this week, linebacker Bobby Wagner said he attended the protests in Seattle and that the team’s meetings had drifted away from football.
Wilson has been with his teammates during his time in Seattle who have never avoided taking on social issues, be it Richard Sherman, Doug Baldwin, Michael Bennett, or others, speaking out loud.
Wilson said that in smaller group sessions, conversations have focused on asking players about their past experiences and that several white players have asked Wilson what they can do to listen and make a difference. He said the change will not be immediate, but he hopes it will happen.
“This will require a really significant change, and sometimes those things will take time,” said Wilson. “But the reality is that this did not happen yesterday. This did not happen just yesterday or two days ago. This has been happening for years. And I think we will do everything we can to be part of that change.”