How Denver Broncos QB Russell Wilson keeps his offseason from being a distraction

Sports

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Hey look, Russell Wilson‘s throwing out the first pitch at the Colorado Rockies game.

No wait, he’s celebrating a Colorado Avalanche win, pom-pom in hand, the team’s home ice in the background.

Or he’s in Monaco, mingling with the storied Grand Prix’s who’s-who, A-list faithful.

Don’t look now, he’s giving the commencement address at Dartmouth. Or posing for photos, handing out the high fives and coaching at his passing camp, visiting patients at Children’s Hospital.

In short, the Denver Broncos quarterback, acquired in a franchise-altering trade this past March, has been everywhere over the past four months. But those who have been around him say he has not let the football part of the equation suffer.

“He’s all over the place, man,” said Broncos guard Dalton Risner, a native of Wiggins, Colorado. “I grew up here, I know what it’s like when the Broncos have a quarterback and a leader like that. But Russell, you can tell he wants to lead, on the field, in the community and he’s going to be out there.”

“When you’re making $30 million a year, you can get a private jet to get you around to wherever you want,” running back Melvin Gordon III, a former teammate of Wilson’s for one season at Wisconsin, said with a laugh. “It’s really easy to do that. [But] he’s all about football, though. He’s locked in, and there is no other way to put it. … He comes in at 6:30 in the morning and he’s tapped in. He’s going over stuff with young guys, with older guys. He’s really trying to change the feel around here.”

Wilson’s desire to quickly become part of his new community only seems to inspire him to push all the more when a football in his hands.

“It’s funny, when it first started, you’re like, ‘Woah, are you going to be able to pick this stuff up? Are we going to be able to own the offense like we want to?'” Broncos coach Nathaniel Hackett asked. “But he does such a great job of surrounding himself with great people that help him out so he can still do all of these things and still focus solely on football. It’s unbelievable to watch. Every single second that he has, he’s non-stop working. If he’s on a plane, he’s watching film, he’s studying, he’s calling people and he’s calling me.”

A Wilson FaceTime call is already something his teammates have learned to be ready for, or a flurry of text messages to the wide receivers or a swoop-in call from high above another time zone to bat around an idea about a route against a Cover 4 look.

Wilson makes no secret of his desire to cram as much life into every day as he can. But he is also quick to assure his new teammates and coaches where his priorities lie.

“First of all, football is the No. 1 priority, that’s why it never suffers,” Wilson said. “You do everything you can to spend the extra time, you get here early, leave late. You do all that stuff. One of the things that I believe in is that you pour your whole self into it, no matter where my feet are, I’m going to pour everything that I have into it. When I’m here, even when I’m away from here and everything else, the coaches and I, we’re constantly talking, players, we’re constantly talking.”

Just days after the Broncos acquired Wilson in March, the nine-time Pro Bowl selection was already organizing a throwing session in San Diego for many of his new teammates, including wide receivers, tight ends, running backs and even center Lloyd Cushenberry III. Throughout the Broncos’ offseason program, Wilson organized additional meetings as well as some on-field throwing sessions with the offense.

The meetings and sessions were detailed enough and players felt they were important enough that wide receiver Tim Patrick said if a player didn’t think they needed to attend “then you’re not serious about winning and you don’t belong on this team.”

Patrick also added that “if our quarterback does it, then no one has an excuse not to do it.”

No matter how much Wilson crams into the calendar, he says it’s still not as busy as when he played both baseball and football while attending NC State. Wilson was a good enough baseball prospect to have been selected in the 41st round by the Baltimore Orioles in 2007, then by the Rockies in the fourth round of the 2010 draft and even in his second season with the Seattle Seahawks (2013), as the Texas Rangers selected him in the Rule 5 draft.

“Everyone is always shocked with how busy I am,” Wilson said. “I’m like, ‘You think this is busy?’ I took 18 credits every semester in college. I played two sports. I went to football lifts in the morning, went to class, then went to baseball, played all night until 11 o’clock at night, then I did my homework. That was busy. That was the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

“Being able to do fortunate things, to be able to speak at Dartmouth, to support Ciara, my wife, and then also to do things with other guys and everything else, hangout when I can, it means a lot. One thing that I’ve always believed in is, it’s a lifestyle. You have to make your whole entire being and your thought process about winning, about being successful. With that comes great opportunities but it also comes with great challenges. How do you manage those challenges? How do you think about it?”

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