ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — As Russell Wilson prepares to head back to the city where he spent the first 10 years of his NFL career, he's approaching the game with joy, gratitude and an understanding of the task at hand.
"My experience in Seattle was one of a kind," Wilson said Thursday. "Ten years, I couldn't imagine those years not being in my life and how special they were and how many games we won and how many amazing thrillers and just the Super Bowl we won and everything else. I'm going to think of all those memories and everything else and the joy of that and the gratitude of that. And then also, we've got a football game to play. So I'm excited just to get out there and play again. I love this game. I'm passionate about it. Got a lot of great teammates — there's a lot of guys that I'm super close with on the other side. It'll be a great battle."
Wilson acknowledged that there will be emotions that come with his return to Seattle, but he said he couldn't let that impact his play.
"I think there's obviously tremendous love and history there," Wilson said. "I've been there so many times and I've played 100-plus home games there I think, something like that. I've been there quite a bit. Like I said, some amazing memories and amazing friends and people that I got to meet. It'll definitely be an experience I've never experienced before, but it will also be an experience that I'm going to enjoy the journey of it all. My focus is going to be on joy. My focus is going to be on my teammates and us playing our best football we can possibly play against a really good football team. That's what we're going to have to do.
"To play a great game, you can have passion, you can have some emotions and all that, but you can't be emotional. I think that's just part of it."
Head Coach Nathaniel Hackett agreed with his quarterback, noting need to execute regardless of opponent.
"Obviously he is going back to where he came from," Hackett said. "Happens to be the first week. We knew this was going to happen at some point, because it was on our schedule. We've got to go out and execute. It doesn't matter who or where or when. We've got to execute."
As Wilson and Co. near their game against the Seahawks, he also noted that he will be better served to focus on his preparation rather than the external factors surrounding the matchup.
"At the end of the day, you've still got to get prepared the same way you always get prepared," Wilson said. "I think when you get outside of that realm and start thinking about everything else or start detailing this or detailing that or trying to worry about this and worry about that, you're wasting time. I don't think winners waste time on things that have nothing to do with the game, at the end of the day. I just don't think that you can do that. You can't have the capacity. So for me, my focus is on what does it take to win today's practice, what does it take to win, making sure our meetings every day are great and making sure the language is right, the championship thought process — everything. That's what it has to be. There's no other way about it. There will be a time and place you think about it and go back and reflect on it all. Like I said, Seattle will forever mean the world to me. I just loved it there. I played 10 years there, it was an amazing experience, and I loved every second of it."
Even after those 10 years, it's uncertain what sort of reception he'll receive from the Seattle crowd. Seahawks receiver Tyler Lockett implored fans to give Wilson a warm reception, but it remains to be seen how he'll be greeted. Asked specifically whether the crowd's reaction when he runs out onto the field matters to him, Wilson said he'll continue to carry his fondness for the city regardless of the reception.
"I think at the end of the day, hopefully after 10 years of trying to make a difference there and winning a lot of football games and all of us doing it together, I think that was really special," Wilson said. "I think also too, Seattle will always mean the world to me. It will always forever be home for me. It will always be a special place in my heart, obviously. Like I said, I have some amazing teammates there. The thing I think about, everybody talks about the games and all that stuff and everything, but the thing really matters to me most was just bringing my daughter back home to Seattle, bringing little Future, bringing Win, when he was first born. Those moments. Those memories. The Seattle Children's [Hospital] kids that you meet. Our kids at our school, Why Not You Academy. That's what life's about. People are going to love you, they're going to hate you sometimes, whatever it may be. I know that for me, I'll forever have love in my heart for Seattle."
PLAYING FOR RUSS
While Wilson has emphasized that he must treat the Broncos' Week 1 game like any other matchup, his teammates are determined to bring home a win for their quarterback.
"For us, definitely, going out and getting a win and for him, going back to somewhere that he was, that he's very familiar with, the coaching staff, the fans there, what he did for that community, to go back there and to help him get a win, I'm sure definitely would mean a lot to him," safety Kareem Jackson said. "So that's the goal. We're going there to take care of business and get a win for Russ."
Jackson, who spent the first nine years of his career in Houston, remembers what it was like to go back to NRG Stadium for a 2019 matchup with the Texans.
"A lot of excitement," Jackson said. "Definitely anxious. Got a chance to see a lot of familiar faces. But at the end of the day, it's just all about going in and taking care of business. It's still a business trip; you're just wearing different colors. At the end of the day, it's still ball. It's what we've been doing for a long time. We've just got to approach it that way and just lock in and go take care of business."
Jackson turned in one of the best performances of his career, as he recorded 11 tackles, a tackle for loss, an interception, three passes defensed and a defensive touchdown.
Both Jackson and Melvin Gordon III said they're not concerned about how Wilson will respond as he gets his own opportunity to return home.
"He's one of the most calm dudes, I think, around," Gordon said. "You have to be at quarterback; you can't be too high or low. ... You can kind of do too much. You can play out [of] yourself and start making mistakes. You've got to go in there with a clear mindset and just go in there and just do you. It's obviously going to be electric that he's back at home where he started, but at the end of the day, he's Russell Wilson and he knows what to do. This ain't his first football game."