When some of the quotes first emerged from Russell Wilson’s interview with HBO’s Bryant Gumbel regarding Wilson playing baseball, it sounded like the musings of an elite, 25-year-old athlete who thinks he can do anything — but who surely would never undermine his football career by playing professional baseball. Based on the full interview, it sounds like a stronger possibility.
After Wilson suggests that he may “push the envelope a little bit” and play football and baseball, Gumbel pounces.
“Let’s be blunt,” Gumbel says in an interview that debuts Tuesday night at 10:00 p.m. ET. “You played minor league ball for a while. Correct me if I’m wrong. Numbers were .227 average, five homers, 26 RBI. If the numbers were better, would you [play baseball and football]?”
“I wouldn’t be worried about the statistics of it,” Wilson replies. “I know I can play in the big leagues. With the work ethic and all that, I think I definitely could for sure. And that’s why the Texas Rangers got my rights. And they want me to play. Jon Daniels, the G.M., wants me to play. We were talking about it the other day.”
The Seahawks G.M., John Schneider, was talking about it the other day, too. And Schneider isn’t ready to assume Wilson would fail.
“I think one of the primary things that really attracted Russell to us — I know me in particular — was the confidence he has in himself and the goals, dreams, aspirations,” Schneider told KIRO radio. “He’s off the charts in terms of his confidence level and the way he views himself, so it doesn’t surprise me that he would think that way. Quite frankly, I haven’t thought much about the baseball aspect of it. Based on the position that he plays in football, I think it would be difficult. But the way he attacks everything, I don’t think you could put anything past him.”
Schneider also declined to say whether the Seahawks would try to stop Wilson from playing baseball. It was smart to sidestep the question, because a football-only ultimatum from N.C. State coach Tom O’Brien sparked Wilson to transfer to Wisconsin.
“I’ll never forget it,” Wilson says. “I’ll never forget the times that people have told me that I couldn’t do something.”
That’s ultimately good news for Schneider and the Seahawks, because Wilson believes the interception at the end of Super Bowl XLIX won’t define him.
“Even if you don’t get back [to the Super Bowl]?” Gumbel says.
“I’ll get back.”
“You’re sure of that.”
“I’ll get back.”
Whether and how often he gets back could depend on how much of the team’s salary cap is devoted to him. That wasn’t a topic that came up in the interview with Gumbel. Soon, it’ll be an issue far more important than his lingering baseball dream and Super Bowl nightmare.