RENTON, WA – Players who play a tough, physical sport like football are uncommon for ten years in the NFL. It is even rarer that a player remains in the class of his respective position for so long.
But now, in the middle of his 10th season with the Seahawks as he approaches another historic milestone, linebacker Bobby Wagner continues to prove he’s an exception to the rule. Over the past decade, it can be argued that no other non-quarterback has achieved his level of excellence between the lines.
Looking at Wagner’s Hall of Fame-worthy résumé, the former Utah State star already holds the Seahawks franchise record by a wide margin. He has won six all-pro first-team selections in the past seven seasons and is one of only 12 players to accomplish that feat in his position. He has played a major role in all but one of the last nine seasons that has led his team into the playoffs.
What was the key to its unrivaled consistency? As he learned from watching former Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, the biggest challenge most athletes face is finding a way to overcome boredom, stay on top and keep growing.
“People get bored with it. When people do the same thing every day or try to be consistent, people get bored with it, so they deviate from it, ”Wagner told reporters on Wednesday. “You have a conversation with yourself and it’s almost like a negotiation where you commit yourself to something and you say you would do it every day, then you have those day or two when it says,” Maybe I’ll skip a few reps. Maybe I’ll take time off today, maybe my body needs this rest. ‘ It’s a constant battle with your inner self. Lots of people can’t handle this struggle. “
Fortunately for the Seahawks, most of the time he was focused on opposing ball carriers was the case a lot. Wagner didn’t lose those fights during his decade in the NFL. Despite his numerous successes on and off the field, he remained hungry to learn and motivated to improve.
Although he couldn’t tell exactly when he began to understand the importance of persistence, during high school and college Wagner began developing a routine that got the best out of him both physically and mentally. Since being drafted by Seattle second round in 2012, he has been able to avoid stagnation by maintaining and re-creating these routines to keep up to date and advance his development.
“A lot of constancy is about growth, so I have the feeling that the moment I stop wanting to grow is when I leave,” said Wagner. “I haven’t felt that way, but there are still aspects of my game that I feel like I can get better at. There are still parts of my body that I can get stronger. There are still things that I can do. that I can do. I wasn’t bored. ” because there is still so much growth that is still out there for me. ”
As the latest example of his unrivaled consistency, Wagner will have the chance to join an exclusive club when the Seahawks race against the Packers on Sunday. Currently tied with Bears linebacker Roquan Smith for the championship lead with 93 tackles. If he registers seven or more stops at Lambeau Field, he will become the only third player since 1987, alongside London Fletcher and Ray Lewis, to break the 100 tackle mark in 10. achieve consecutive seasons.
“Coming back physically fit enough to achieve this is a sign of persistence,” said coach Pete Carroll of Wagner. “He’s a great athlete and has a great work ethic. It takes all to be connected to get these kinds of numbers over so many years, year after year. He’s got off to a great start, this is the beginning of the year, to get that close to 100 tackles. He’s doing great, he feels good, and it’s a wonderful statement of consistency. “
To put Wagner’s remarkable production in perspective, no other player in the history of the Seahawks franchise has hit 100 or more tackles more than five times in a season. Former teammate KJ Wright holds the award, while Chad Brown and Terry Wooden each accomplished the feat four times. Eugene Robinson, who overshadowed Wagner for the 2019 franchise tackle record, did so only five times in his entire career and four times while playing in Seattle.
Wagner also recently overtook Seahawks Defensive Coordinator Ken Norton Jr., who has achieved 1,272 tackles in 13 NFL seasons with the Cowboys and 49ers, making it 20th.
“It’s pretty tough and it’s really something special what he’s achieved,” Norton said of Wagner, who hit 100 or more tackles in 10 seasons. “The fact that I have been able to play this game myself for a long time, I understand very well how much effort, concentration, willingness to make sacrifices and discipline are behind it.”
With the fire still burning brightly inside him, Wagner has shown no significant signs of decline and remains the unannounced leader of Seattle’s defense. It’s been a remarkable journey for an iconic player who, when he was voted 46th overall in the 2012 second round, was chosen as a range by many draft experts.
Now, a decade later, the only people who look stupid are the pundits who smelled their assessments bad and the teams who allowed Wagner to fall in favor of the Seahawks by the middle of the second round. With one foot in the door at Canton, he’s ready to climb the all-time leaderboard for tackles as he continues to cement his reputation as one of the best linebackers to ever play the game, regardless of the era.