NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — Within the first five minutes, Russell Wilson called an audible.
The Seattle Seahawks quarterback — somewhat overlooked at this Super Bowl by the QB on the other sideline — briefly stopped answering questions, came down from his podium and fulfilled the wish of an older woman named Josephine wearing the jersey of teammate Richard Sherman.
All she wanted was a hug and an autograph.
“Just to be here, is a dream come true,” Wilson said. “To be able to focus on this moment is really special.”
While there was plenty of attention on Seattle’s QB on Tuesday, it was less than the hoard that surrounded Sherman or even the short availability of running back Marshawn Lynch. Wilson was peppered about growing out his hair — a mix between Bruno Mars and Michael Jackson he says — his faith, his friendship with Grammy winning rapper Macklemore and even tried answering a question in Spanish.
“When I was in 11th grade, we won the state championship. I had my hair grown out,” Wilson said. “I didn’t cut my hair the whole year for that season and my dad didn’t either, so it kind of inspired me for this year.”
Wilson was much like the rest of his teammates — perhaps Lynch excluded. Whether it was strong safety Kam Chancellor, wide receiver Percy Harvin or a host of others, they all attempted to relax and have fun with hoard of media assembled at Prudential Center.
“I’m entrenched in the moment,” Seattle middle linebacker Bobby Wagner said. “I grew up and I watched a lot of guys not able to have this opportunity, so it’s definitely something that I’m cherishing and just enjoying every moment.”
It’s strange for Wilson to be considered a secondary figure considering in just his second season he’s playing in the Super Bowl. He is the winningest quarterback in the first two seasons of his career in NFL history, after all, with 24 regular-season victories and 27 overall wins in 36 total starts.
But with Peyton Manning the quarterback on the other side, the reaction from Sherman’s postgame rant following the NFC championship game still being discussed, and the wonder if Lynch would even show up on Tuesday, somehow Wilson took a back seat.
Wilson still went about it with his usual professional demeanor.
“You’ve got (Sherman) who is going to probably voice his opinion a little bit more, and then you have Russell who is real professional. They both handle it pretty well,” Seattle wide receiver Jermaine Kearse said. “Look at them up there. Looks like they’re both doing a good job up there.”
Seattle is absent Super Bowl experience so Tuesday’s circus was a complete new outing for every player.
They clearly decided to embrace it, rather than shy away — all except for Lynch. Numerous players wore cameras strapped to their chests as part of a feature for the team website. Reserve safety Chris Maragos brought out his video camera to document the occasion, while teammate Earl Thomas had a tablet set up next to him recording his entire session sitting on one of the main podiums.
Golden Tate was even more high-tech, wearing a Google Glass headset.
“Really I thought it would be a great idea to try to film my experience through my eyes, literally through my eyes, for the 12’s,” said Tate, giving a nod to the Seahawks fans. “They’ve supported us all year and we appreciate it so much. I figured this would be a small way for me to give back and for the people that aren’t able to make it out, they can see this.”
Even coaches got in the act. Within the first 10 minutes, linebackers coach Ken Norton Jr. — one of just two coaches or players on Seattle’s roster with Super Bowl playing experience — strolled around taking pictures of his players as they endured the same questions he faced playing in three Super Bowls.
“We just talked about them having fun, really taking it all in. Having a good sense of humor about it,” Norton said. “At the same time, this is all just building up to the game that we love most and playing football. That’s what it comes down to, enjoying this opportunity, the people, the hype, how big that it is.
“You really deserve this position you’re in, but at the end of the day were here to win a football game.”