RENTON — Ladies and gentlemen, Will Dissly has an urgent message to share:
He’s ready to ball.
Dissly had a breakout performance in his Seahawks debut during the 2018 opener at Denver, when the rookie tight end out of Washington caught three passes for 105 yards and a touchdown.
He had another breakout performance when he was cast in a brief Seahawks-themed remake of “Anchorman” earlier this month. Dissly played Ron Burgundy, Will Ferrell’s legendary character from the movie, and the delivery of his key line (in the one 19-second scene at a swimming pool) was, as Russell Wilson saw it, “spot on.”
Dissly delivers the punch line — “Cannon-ball!” — and jumps into the pool, a dozen teammates following him into the water.
The clip was part of Wilson’s annual “Seahawks Summer Camp” in Southern California, designed to show off some of the fun and camaraderie the teammates were having and creating before the start of training camp.
And, yes, Dissly is having fun again on the football field.
Dissly was back on the field, albeit in a limited role, during the first two practices of training camp Thursday and Friday, an ahead-of-schedule return just 10 months after a devastating rupture of his right patellar tendon ended his rookie season in late September.
Dissly has yet to participate in team drills — he has been spending time with a trainer going through conditioning drills on a back field — but he said it’s “absolutely” possible he could play Week 1 against Cincinnati.
“It’s amazing to be back out here with my guys,” Dissly said Friday, adding: “Right now we are taking it slow. The main priority is the longevity on my knee and the season. We are going to take it slow. I feel really good. I honestly feel like I’m in better shape now than (he was) entering last season, so I’m excited about that. We’ll just keep grinding and keep going.”
Before getting back to this point, Dissly first went back home to Bozeman, Mont., and back to his childhood bedroom.
On Oct. 4 in Florida, Dissly had surgery on his knee, performed by the renowned surgeon Dr. James Andrews. That same day, Dissly’s first nephew — Malcolm — was born in Bozeman.
“I was chatting with him (on the phone) while he was in the recovery room, and my wife was in labor waiting to have another kid,” said Russell Dissly, the youngest of Will’s two older brothers.
To those who know him best, the Seahawks tight end is “Uncle Will,” and there’s nothing he enjoys more than his niece, Jolene, and two nephews, Malcolm and Boone, who was born in Bozeman in May.
“I love being an uncle. It’s one of my favorite things,” Will said.
Nick, Russell and Will grew up in the home their parents, Paul and Lois, have owned in Bozeman since 1981. Will was the baby boy, born when Nick was 11 and Russell was 9.
“Oh, we definitely made him tough,” said Russell, now 32. “We didn’t hold back just ’cause he was 10 years younger. … We always talked about what life would’ve been like without him. He was the happy accident — and one of best things that’s ever happened to us.”
For six weeks last fall, Will was home again, living with his parents as he recovered from surgery. He loves to read children’s books to Jolene, and he was grateful to be around to get to know newborn Malcolm. He was glad, too, to be able to spend Thanksgiving with the family, his first Thanksgiving at home since his senior year of high school in 2013. (The Dissly family green beans are especially popular.)
“Having Will part of that was special for everyone,” Paul Dissly said.
Because Will was immobile — his right knee was wrapped in a large brace to keep his leg straight during his initial recovery — he couldn’t live in the upstairs bedroom he inherited when Nick graduated high school. Instead, Will stayed in his early-childhood bedroom downstairs, and then relied on rides from his sister-in-law Megan to get to and from daily physical therapy appointments.
“Patellar tendon surgery is a tough one, because of the mobility of leg,” Russell said. “It was unfamiliar territory for a lot of people — it’s not a common injury. So not knowing what to expect, we relied on him as far as setting the tone … and he had a real good mindset going into it. We fed off him and he had such a positive outlook on it.”
Throughout his recovery, Will tried to set small goals for himself — working diligently to regain range of motion in his leg, while also working on building up his upper body and studying film of Seahawks games. He tried not to look too far ahead, and he tried not to get upset if he had a setback.
“Will being who he is, he had a pretty positive attitude. I didn’t see many down days,” Paul said.
Said Will: “I owe them (his family) a lot of credit, getting me to where I am — not just this rehab but through my entire life. I have to give them a lot of credit. Just being around family, there’s healing there and a lot of laughter.”
Will returned to Seattle last December, resuming his rehabilitation with Seahawks trainers; some weeks, he was with them six out of seven days. He also resumed his studies at UW, completing his undergraduate studies at UW, earning his economics degree this spring.
Now he — and his teammates — are eager and optimistic about what’s ahead this season.
“He’s the high character level player that you want on your team. He’s the ultimate competitor,” Russell Wilson said Friday. “He’s the definition of what a Seahawk should look like, in terms of his passion for the game, his understanding of the game, his love for the other players, how he takes care of his business. It’s what we want to be about. …
“He’s a big-time player for us and he’s going to be a big player for us for the rest of his career hopefully.”