RENTON — Russell Wilson spent much of the first 15 minutes of his weekly meeting with the media Thursday reflecting on an especially meaningful upcoming personal milestone — if the Seahawks beat Tennessee Sunday it will be his 100th win in the regular season.
The quarterback spent the last minutes talking as poignantly as he ever has about a man who he felt has helped get him to the doorstep of that milestone as much as any other — Trevor Moawad, his longtime mental coach.
Moawad died Wednesday night at the age of 48 in the Los Angeles area after a roughly two-year battle with cancer.
“This may be tough for me to talk about,” Wilson said, his voice laden with emotion.
But after a pause to collect his thoughts, Wilson then spoke uninterrupted for almost eight minutes, detailing how he first met Moawad, how Moawad was the person he leaned on following the ill-fated end to Super Bowl XLIX, and how he will forever carry Moawad’s memory and teachings with him.
The two first met when Wilson trained at IMG Academy in Florida for the 2012 draft.
Wilson recalled that Moawad told him what would separate Wilson is his mind. “That’s what we’re going to work on,” Moawad told him.
Moawad, who grew up in the Tacoma area and attended Charles Wright Academy before going to Occidental College in Los Angeles where he played soccer and basketball, was already well known in the mental coaching field when he met Wilson. Moawad’s other clients included the Jacksonville Jaguars, the University of Alabama and Florida State.
“From that moment, he’s been my best friend,” said Wilson of his initial meeting with Moawad. “We spent so much time together. Through the highest, highest, highest of moments, to the lowest moments. To the moments of winning a Super Bowl, to the moment of not winning it, unfortunately. He’s always been there for me. He’s a guy who always gave me perspective and gave me knowledge and insight.”
The two grew close enough that in 2019, Moawad, Wilson and Wilson’s brother, Harry, started up a company, Limitless Minds, based in Kirkland, with a mission statement of helping businesses enrich their culture through “neutral” mindset training. Wilson later wrote a foreword for Moawad’s book published in 2020 titled “It Takes What It Takes.”
Thursday, he spent much of his remembrance of Moawad focused on how Moawad helped him through the days following the loss to the Patriots in the Super Bowl, when an almost-certain Seattle victory turned to defeat in the final seconds when a Wilson pass was intercepted by Malcolm Butler.
“He called me the next morning and said, ‘How you doing?’” Wilson recalled. “And I said, ‘You know, the sun still comes up in the morning, Trev. The sun still comes up in the morning.’ And he said back to me, ‘You’re a winner. I believe in Russell Wilson. I believe in No. 3. What are we going to do about it?’”
Wilson recalled he immediately flew to San Diego and for about a month, Moawad moved in with him “just to keep everybody away and just have everything move efficiently, and we got to work that day, the next morning.
“And the one thing that we talked about in those moments, in that moment in particular, we sat in the kitchen, a little circle table in San Diego, and he said to me that ‘we have a choice to make.’ I said ‘I’ve already made it.’ (He said) ‘You’ve already made it?’ ‘I’ve already made it. I’m not gonna let this moment affect me for the rest of my career. Not me. They got the wrong one.’
“He said, ‘Good. That’s what I thought you were going to say.’”
Wilson rebounded from that moment to continue on a course that now has him an almost-certain first-ballot Hall of Famer.
With seven more wins this year, Wilson can surpass Peyton Manning with the most wins by an NFL QB in the first 10 seasons of his career (Manning has 105).
And a win Sunday would make Wilson the third-fastest QB in NFL history to reach 100 wins in terms of games played at 146, behind only Tom Brady (131) and Joe Montana (139).
Earlier in his news conference, Wilson recalled the moment in 2012 when coach Pete Carroll first told him he would be the starter, a day or so after a preseason game against Kansas City that year when Carroll took him out to shoot baskets and give him the news.
“Just to be able to get the opportunity to be a part of this team in my rookie year and to be able to play right away, and to be playing, fighting for my 100th (regular season) win, and then also to just play a lot of football games — it’s been a lot of fun,’’ Wilson said. “And you can’t take it for granted.’’
Wilson has seemed to use that phrase — not taking anything for granted — even more this year as he’s entered Year 10 in the NFL.
It’s among the things he made clear Thursday, things he learned along the way from Moawad.
What he said he knows Moawad would want him to do now is follow through on what he always taught Wilson — that through the highest of highs and lowest of lows “to be able to remain consistent though it all and be able to keep your mind clear.”
Then Wilson had one last thing to say to Moawad.
“’Thank you,’” he said. “’I wish I could talk to you again. But you know, I’ll see you again. I’ll see you again. The best is ahead.'”