Russell Wilson played his senior season at the University of Wisconsin, but the Seahawks’ second-year quarterback will be making his first trip to legendary Lambeau Field for Friday night’s third preseason game.
He got close during the Badgers’ Rose Bowl season in 2011, but no Lambeau.
“Ironically, I’ve never been to Lambeau Field,” Wilson explained after Wednesday’s practice at Virginia Mason Athletic Center. “When I was at the University of Wisconsin, I had an opportunity to go, got tickets and everything to go to the game.
“We were practicing for the Rose Bowl. It was Saturday. The (Packers’) game was on Sunday. I was supposed to go to the football game. We had a bad practice and coach (Bret) Bielema told us that, ‘Hey, we’re going to have practice tomorrow.’ Right during the middle of the Packers’ game, so I was unable to go.”
That’s OK, because Wilson will have a unique vantage point for his first visit to Lambeau.
“I’m excited to go,” he said. “Great stadium, obviously. Playing a great football team. Obviously I have a lot of respect for them. A lot of respect for their fans, too.”
Then came the obligatory but …
“For us, it’s a business trip,” Wilson said. “We have to be able to play our best football game.”
Better than they played during a 40-10 victory over the Denver Broncos in their preseason home opener on Saturday night, which was better than their 31-10 victory over the Chargers in San Diego in their preseason opener.
The starters will get their longest stint of the preseason at Lambeau, and Wilson has some lofty goals – a Lambeau Leap, if you will.
“Just a constant progression,” Wilson said when asked if he has a goal for the offense in this game. “I think that was my goal last year, personally and as an offense, too. Can we be better than the game before? We had a great game last game, but I think there are a couple of things here and there that we can fix for sure.
“But can we be better this game? And the end of the day, that’s what we want to do. We want to win, we want to be very, very efficient with the football, we want to be explosive with the football, we want to be great on third downs and great in the red zone. So it doesn’t change for us. The only thing that changes, hopefully, is that we’re better than last week.”
Things definitely have changed for Wilson in the past 12 months. It was during the third preseason game last season – when he got the start against the Chiefs in Kansas City because Matt Flynn came down with a sore elbow on his throwing arm before the game – that Wilson wrapped up the starting job.
Now, he’s featured in the current issues of GQ and EPSN the Magazine, but still focused on what landed him those gigs – his performance on the field.
“I try not to pay attention to it,” Wilson said of his growing notoriety. “It’s a blessing, for sure, to be able to do the things I’ve been able to do in the past year. But at the same time I’m just trying to focus on football as much as I can and stay limited to what I do (off the field).
“Obviously, my full focus is on football and how can we improve, how can I improve, how can our football team win week in and week out. That’s all it’s ever going to be for me. At the end of the day, the Lord’s blessed me with a lot of talent and a lot of blessings. And just to play the game of football is a tremendous honor.”
Especially at the fabled field he almost got to visit in 2011.