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He was selected by the Seahawks with the 12th pick in the third round (75th overall) of the 2012 NFL Draft. After beating out Matt Flynn for the starting job during training camp, Wilson ended up having a successful debut season, tying Peyton Manning's then record for most passing touchdowns by a rookie (26) and was named the Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Year.
Wilson has been named to seven Pro Bowls and has started in two Super Bowls, winning Super Bowl XLVIII. He holds the record for most wins by an NFL quarterback through seven seasons (75) and is one of two quarterbacks in NFL history with a career passer rating over 100, behind Aaron Rodgers. On April 15, 2019, Wilson signed a four-year, $140 million contract extension with the Seahawks, making him the highest paid player in the NFL at the time.
As a senior, he threw for 3,009 passing yards, 34 passing touchdowns, and seven interceptions. In addition, he rushed for 1,132 yards and 18 touchdowns. That year, he was named an all-conference and all-state player as well as conference player of the year. He was featured in Sports Illustrated magazine for his performance in the state championship game win. Wilson also served as his senior class president.
During his time in high school, Wilson attended the Manning Passing Academy, a summer football clinic run by multiple NFL MVP winner Peyton Manning. Due to this encounter, Manning recognized Wilson many years later when the latter had flown to Denver to discuss the prospect of getting drafted by the Denver Broncos, where Manning had recently signed.
In addition to playing football, Wilson was also a member of the Collegiate School basketball and baseball teams.
Wilson redshirted during the 2007 season at NC State. In 2008, Wilson initially split time at quarterback with senior Daniel Evans and junior Harrison Beck. However, Evans and Beck saw no regular season action after Week 2 and Week 5, respectively. Thereafter, Wilson led the team to a 4-3 record in the regular season which NC State finished out on a four-game winning streak. During a win over East Carolina, Wilson threw for 201 yards and three touchdowns. He threw for two touchdowns in each of the last six games in the regular season.
In the 2008 PapaJohns.com Bowl against Rutgers, Wilson threw for 186 yards and a touchdown and rushed for 46 yards before halftime. Late in the first half, he scrambled to the Rutgers' four-yard line, where he was tackled and suffered a knee sprain. With Wilson sitting out the remainder of the game, his replacements threw a combined total of three interceptions with NC State eventually losing, 23-29. Over the course of the season, he completed 150 of 275 attempts for 1,955 yards and 17 touchdowns with just one interception. He also recorded 116 carries for 394 yards and four touchdowns. The Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) named him the first-team All-ACC quarterback. It was the first time in the conference's history that a freshman quarterback was named to the first team.
Prior to the 2009 season, Wilson was named as the quarterback on the pre-season all-ACC football team on July 12. On September 19, Wilson broke Andre Woodson's all-time NCAA record of 325 consecutive pass attempts without an interception against Gardner-Webb. The 379-pass streak ended in a game against Wake Forest on October 3. Wilson held the record until November 10, 2012, when it was broken by Louisiana Tech quarterback Colby Cameron. Wilson was named honorable mention All-ACC in 2009.
Wilson led the 2010 Wolfpack to a 9-4 season that included a 23-7 win over West Virginia in the 2010 Champs Sports Bowl. He led the ACC in passing yards per game (274.1) and total offensive yards per game (307.5). He was named second-team All-ACC and runner-up for ACC Football Player of the Year. In May 2010, Wilson graduated from NC State in three years with a BA in communication, and took graduate-level business courses in the fall semester during the 2010 football season.
In January 2011, Wilson announced that he would report to spring training with the Colorado Rockies organization. NC State head coach Tom O'Brien expressed reservations with Wilson's decision, saying "Russell and I have had very open conversations about his responsibilities respective to baseball and football. While I am certainly respectful of Russell's dedication to baseball these last several years, within those discussions I also communicated to him the importance of his time commitment to NC State football."
O'Brien and his staff reached out to NFL coaches and general managers on Wilson's behalf, but he failed to receive an invitation to the 2011 NFL Scouting Combine.
On April 29, 2011, O'Brien announced that Wilson had been granted a release from his football scholarship with one year of eligibility remaining.
In the 2012 Rose Bowl against the Oregon Ducks on January 2, 2012, Wilson had 19 pass completions on 25 attempts for 296 yards, 18 rushing yards, and 3 touchdowns (2 passing, 1 rushing) as the Badgers lost by a score of 38-45. Wilson finished the season with 33 passing touchdowns, which set the single season record at Wisconsin and was the second-most in Big Ten history behind Drew Brees during the 1998 season at Purdue (39). Wilson also set the single season FBS record for passing efficiency (191.8). On January 28, 2012, Wilson completed his college football career at the 2012 Senior Bowl.
Wilson against the Minnesota Vikings on November 4, 2012
On April 27, 2012, Wilson was selected by the Seattle Seahawks in the third round (75th pick overall) of the draft. He was the sixth quarterback to be selected that year. The Seahawks received significant criticism for their selections in the 2012 draft, and for Wilson in particular, as the Seahawks had just signed free agent Matt Flynn. Wilson signed a four-year, $2.99 million contract with the Seahawks on May 7, 2012. He made his preseason debut against the Tennessee Titans on August 11, 2012 and had his first preseason start on August 24 against the Kansas City Chiefs.
On August 26, 2012, Wilson was named the starting quarterback for the first regular season game after competing with Matt Flynn and Tarvaris Jackson for the position.
Wilson earned the Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Week honors for his stellar week 10 performance in a 28-7 victory over the New York Jets. He had 12 completions on 19 attempts for 188 yards and two touchdowns, along with 7 rushing attempts for 34 yards. He was named NFC Offensive Player of the Week and FedEx Air Player of the Week for his week 13 performance in the 23-17 win over the Chicago Bears. On December 16, in a 50-17 victory over the Buffalo Bills, he had 205 passing yards, one passing touchdown, nine rushes, 92 rushing yards, and a career-high three rushing touchdowns. He earned NFL Offensive Rookie of the Month honors for December 2012 after the Seahawks went 5-0 and he had a passer rating of 115.2.
Wilson finished the 2012 regular season ranked fourth in the NFL in passer rating (100.0), beating the previous rookie record set by Ben Roethlisberger in 2004 (98.1), since broken by Robert Griffin III in 2012 (102.4) and Dak Prescott in 2016 (104.9). He threw for 3,118 yards and 26 touchdowns, tying Peyton Manning's record for most touchdowns thrown by a rookie, and rushed for 489 yards and four touchdowns. Wilson's scrambling mobility and ability to extend plays outside the pocket with his legs earned numerous comparisons to Hall of Fame quarterback Fran Tarkenton.
Wilson led the Seahawks to the postseason in his rookie year. He made his postseason debut in the NFC Wild Card Round against the Washington Redskins, passing for 187 yards and rushing for 67 yards as the Seahawks rallied for a 24-14 comeback victory. In the Divisional Round against the Atlanta Falcons, Wilson threw for 385 yards and rushed for 60 yards, and his team had a 28-27 lead with 31 seconds to go, but the Falcons managed to kick the winning field goal.
Wilson was selected as an alternate for the 2013 Pro Bowl, filling in for Matt Ryan. At the Pro Bowl, Wilson threw 8 completions on 10 attempts for 98 yards, three touchdowns, and no interceptions for a 147.1 rating.
At the end of the season, Wilson earned a bonus of $222,000 through the NFL's Performance-Based Pay program.
2013: Super Bowl season
Wilson at the 2013 Jessie Vetter Classic, July 1, 2013
Wilson's Seahawks opened the 2013 season with the first 4-0 start in franchise history, after which they lost to the Indianapolis Colts in Week 5. The Seahawks then went on a 7-game winning streak, including a 41-20 victory over the Minnesota Vikings where he posted a career-high 151.4 passer rating and culminating in a 34-7 victory over the Saints in Week 13 in which Wilson threw three touchdown passes and earned his second NFC Offensive Player of the Week award. Over the next three weeks, the Seahawks suffered divisional losses to the San Francisco 49ers and Arizona Cardinals (the loss to the Cardinals was Wilson's first home loss), but defeated the Rams in Week 17 to finish the season with a 13-3 record, the NFC West title, and the No. 1 seed in the playoffs. Wilson finished the season with 26 touchdown passes, 9 interceptions, and a 101.2 passer rating, becoming the first quarterback in the Super Bowl era to post a 100+ passer rating in each of his first two seasons. Wilson was named to his second Pro Bowl on December 27, 2013. In the Divisional Round, the Seahawks defeated the New Orleans Saints by a score of 23-15. On January 19, 2014, Wilson and the Seahawks defeated the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship by a score of 23-17, advancing to Super Bowl XLVIII. Wilson threw for 206 yards, two touchdowns, and no interceptions for a 123.1 passer rating in a 43-8 rout of the Denver Broncos. With the victory, Wilson became just the second black starting quarterback to win a Super Bowl, joining Super Bowl XXII winner Doug Williams. At 5'11" tall, he also became the shortest quarterback to win a Super Bowl, shorter than Len Dawson, Joe Theismann, and Drew Brees (all 6'0").
Wilson earned a bonus of $169,141.73 for the 2013 season through the NFL's Performance-Based Pay program.
On September 21, 2014, Wilson led the Seahawks on an 80-yard touchdown drive in overtime to defeat the Denver Broncos, 26-20, in a Week 3 rematch of the previous season's Super Bowl. On October 6, 2014, against the Washington Redskins, Wilson set a new Monday Night Football record for rushing yards by a quarterback in a single game with 122.
The Seahawks clinched a playoff spot in Week 16 when the Dallas Cowboys defeated the Indianapolis Colts by a score of 42-7, eliminating the Philadelphia Eagles from postseason contention and allowing the Seahawks to clinch before their Sunday Night Football matchup. On December 21, 2014, Wilson went 20-of-31 and threw for a then-career high 339 yards with two touchdown passes and a rushing touchdown against the Arizona Cardinals in a primetime matchup on Sunday Night Football. Wilson also led the offense in gaining 596 yards, setting a franchise record for most yards gained in a game. The Cardinals had the third best scoring defense heading into Week 16. The Seahawks won 35-6 as they snapped the Cardinals' seven-game home winning streak and regained first place in the NFC West as well as the NFC's #1 seed. The Seahawks defeated the St. Louis Rams 20-6 in Week 17 to clinch the NFC West and the #1 seed for the second consecutive season, securing homefield advantage for the entirety of the NFC playoffs.
Wilson led the Seahawks to a 31-17 home win over the Carolina Panthers in the Divisional Round, making the Seahawks the first defending Super Bowl Champion to win a playoff game since the 2005 Patriots. The Seahawks hosted the Green Bay Packers in their second consecutive NFC Championship. Wilson threw 3 first half interceptions while completing only two passes to his own team as the Seahawks fell behind 16-0 at halftime. With the Packers leading 19-7 and five minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, Wilson threw his fourth interception. Then Wilson led the Seahawks on an improbable comeback. On the Seahawks' next drive, Wilson ran the ball in for a touchdown to cut the deficit to 19-14. After a successful onside kick recovery, Wilson led the Seahawks down the field, and Lynch scored to give the Seahawks a 20-19 lead. Wilson completed a 15-yard, two-point conversion pass to Luke Willson to make it 22-19. The Packers tied it up with a field goal at the end of regulation and forced overtime. The Seahawks won the coin toss, and the offense took the field. Wilson led the Seahawks on an 80-yard drive that was capped by a 35-yard game-winning touchdown pass to Kearse. The Seahawks completed their largest postseason comeback in franchise history and clinched a Super Bowl berth.
Wilson would have been selected as an alternate to the Pro Bowl, but did not play because the Seahawks advanced to the Super Bowl; as Wilson did not have a chance to decline the invitation, the NFL recognizes this as a Pro Bowl berth for him.
The Seahawks became the first defending champion to return to the Super Bowl since the 2004 Patriots. They faced the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLIX, where they were defeated by a final score of 28-24. Although the Seahawks led 24-14 heading into the fourth quarter, the Patriots scored two consecutive touchdowns to take a four-point lead with 2:02 remaining. Wilson led the Seahawks to the Patriots' one-yard line with 25 seconds remaining, but Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler intercepted a pass intended for Ricardo Lockette, sealing the victory for the Patriots.
On July 31, 2015, the Seahawks and Wilson agreed to a 4-year, $87.6 million contract extension, making him, at the time, the second highest paid player in the NFL. In the season opener, he had a career-high 32 completions on 41 attempts for 251 passing yards, one touchdown, and one interception in a 34-31 overtime loss to the St. Louis Rams. In the first nine games of the season, Wilson threw 10 touchdown passes and seven interceptions. Over the next five games, Wilson threw 19 touchdowns and no interceptions, becoming the only quarterback in NFL history to throw 3+ touchdown passes and no interceptions in five consecutive games. After a 2-4 start to the season, Wilson led the Seahawks to win seven of their next eight games and clinch a fourth consecutive playoff appearance in their Week 15 win over the Cleveland Browns. In that stretch of games was a 39-30 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers where he was 21 of 30 for 345 yards and a career-high five passing touchdowns and no interceptions. and a 35-6 victory over the Baltimore Ravens where he was 23 of 32 for 292 yards and another five passing touchdown performance. His strong performance over the second half of the season, even after losing star running back Marshawn Lynch and tight end Jimmy Graham, led many analysts to consider Wilson an MVP candidate.
Wilson broke numerous Seahawks single season passing records in 2015, including most passing yards (4,024), most passing touchdowns (34), and highest passer rating (110.1). He became the first Seahawks quarterback to throw for over 4,000 yards in a season, and finished the year with the highest passer rating in the NFL. Wilson's 51.7% deep ball completion percentage was the highest among NFL quarterbacks. On December 22, 2015, Wilson was named to his third Pro Bowl. He was ranked 17th on the NFL Top 100 Players of 2016.
The Seahawks traveled to Minnesota to face the Minnesota Vikings in the Wild Card Round. The temperature at kickoff was -6 °F (-25 °F wind chill), making it the third coldest game in NFL history. Wilson struggled in the sub-zero temperatures, throwing for 142 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. The Vikings missed a short field goal in the last minute, allowing the Seahawks to advance to the Divisional Round to face the 15-1 Carolina Panthers. Down 31-0 at the half, Wilson helped lead a furious comeback attempt, but the Panthers won 31-24, denying Wilson and the Seahawks their third consecutive in the NFC Championship and a shot at a third consecutive Super Bowl appearance. In that game, Wilson threw for 366 yards, three touchdowns, and two interceptions.
Wilson was drafted first overall by Team Irvin in the 2016 Pro Bowl draft, and in the game threw eight completions on 12 attempts for 164 yards, three touchdowns, and no interceptions for a 149.3 rating. He was named the Pro Bowl offensive MVP.
2016: Playing injured
The Seahawks had a solid 2016 season with Wilson at the helm. However, Wilson drew two minor injuries: his ankle during Week 1 against the Miami Dolphins after getting stepped on by defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh, and his left knee against the San Francisco 49ers during Week 3 after a takedown by linebacker Eli Harold. The injuries hampered Wilson's trademark mobility, and many speculated that he would be rested in order to properly recover.
On September 5, 2017, Wilson was voted Seahawks offensive captain for the fifth consecutive season. In Week 3, in a 33-27 loss to the Tennessee Titans, he was 29 of 49 for 373 passing yards and four passing touchdowns. In Week 8 against the Houston Texans, Wilson posted an astounding performance, going 26 of 41 for a career-high 452 passing yards and four touchdowns in a matchup where both he and Deshaun Watson each threw over 400 yards. Wilson also rushed for 30 yards, totaling 482 yards of offense in the 41-38 victory. With his strong performance, Wilson earned NFC Offensive Player of the Week. On December 21, 2017, the Seahawks were fined $100,000 for failure to properly apply the concussion protocol on a hit Wilson sustained during the Week 10 win over the Arizona Cardinals.
In Week 12, with the win over San Francisco, Wilson became the winningest quarterback in a player's first six seasons with 63 wins, surpassing Joe Flacco. Next week, with his 15-yard touchdown throw to running back J. D. McKissic, the third of his game, Wilson tied Eli Manning in 2011 for the most fourth quarter touchdowns in a single season with 15. He went 20 for 31 for 227 yards and three touchdowns in that game, earning him NFC Offensive Player of the Week. On December 19, 2017, Wilson was named to his fourth Pro Bowl.
Wilson was once again named as a captain for the Seahawks going into the 2018 season. He started the season with 298 passing yards, three touchdowns, and two interceptions in a 27-24 loss to the Denver Broncos in Week 1. In Week 3, against the Dallas Cowboys, he helped lead the Seahawks to their first victory of the season with 192 passing yards and two touchdowns. In Weeks 5-8, against the Los Angeles Rams, Oakland Raiders, and Detroit Lions, he had three consecutive games with three passing touchdowns. In Week 13, against the San Francisco 49ers, he had 185 passing yards and four touchdowns in the 43-16 victory.
In Week 16, the Seahawks faced off against the top-seeded Kansas City Chiefs on NBC Sunday Night Football. Wilson out-dueled the season's eventual MVP Patrick Mahomes to lead the team to a 38-31 victory. This not only ensured another winning season for the Seahawks, but also defied early season expectations by returning to the post-season after a one-year absence. Wilson finished the season with 35 touchdowns and a 110.9 passer rating, both personal and franchise bests. He also set career franchise records with most quarterback regular season wins (75) and most touchdowns (196). As the #5-seed in the NFC, the Seahawks faced off against the Dallas Cowboys in the Wild Card Round. Wilson passed for 233 yards and one passing touchdown to go along with a rushing touchdown as the Seahawks fell 24-22.
On April 16, 2019, Wilson signed a four-year, $140 million contract extension to remain with the Seahawks through the 2023 season, making him the highest paid player in the NFL. In Week 2 against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Wilson threw for 300 yards and three touchdowns as the Seahawks won 28-26, earning him NFC Offensive Player of the Week. In Week 3 against the New Orleans Saints, Wilson completed 32 passes for 406 yards and two passing touchdowns. In addition, he rushed seven times for 51 yards and two rushing touchdowns in the 33-27 loss. In Week 5 against the Los Angeles Rams, Wilson threw for 268 yards and four touchdowns in the 30-29 win on Thursday Night Football. The next week, in a 32-28 victory over the Cleveland Browns, he had 295 passing yards and two passing touchdowns. In Week 9 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Wilson threw for 378 yards and five touchdowns in the 40-34 overtime win, taking over the league lead in touchdowns and quarterback rating. He was named NFC Offensive Player of the Week for his performance. In Week 10 against the then-undefeated San Francisco 49ers on Monday Night Football, Wilson threw for 232 yards, one touchdown, one interception and led the Seahawks to a 27-24 overtime win.
Wilson finished the 2019 season with 4,110 passing yards, 31 passing touchdowns, and five interceptions to go along with 75 carries for 342 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns as the Seahawks finished with an 11-5 record and made the playoffs as the NFC's #5 seed. He was once again named to the Pro Bowl, but also made his first appearance on the AP All-Pro team, being named second team quarterback after Lamar Jackson.
In the Wild Card Round against the Philadelphia Eagles, Wilson completed 18 of 30 passes for 325 yards and a touchdown. In addition, he rushed nine times for 45 yards. He accounted for 95 percent of the Seahawks total offense and led them to a 17-9 Victory over the Eagles. In the Divisional Round against the Green Bay Packers, Wilson threw for 277 yards and a touchdown and rushed for 64 yards during the 28-23 loss.
Wilson started off the 2020 season going 31-of-35 for 322 passing yards and four passing touchdowns in the 38-25 victory over the Atlanta Falcons.
He was named the NFC Offensive Player of the Week for his performance in Week 1.
In Week 2, against the New England Patriots on NBC Sunday Night Football, he had 288 passing yards, five passing touchdowns, and one interception in the 35-30 victory.
First and only quarterback to throw 4,000+ passing yards in a season (2015, 2016 and 2019)
After graduating from high school, Wilson was selected by the Baltimore Orioles with the fifth pick in the 41st round (1,222nd overall) of the 2007 MLB draft. The Orioles considered Wilson a talent worthy of the first ten rounds, offered Wilson a $350,000 signing bonus, the third-largest they offered a draftee that year after Matt Wieters ($6 million) and Jake Arrieta ($1.1 million). Wilson instead elected to attend NC State that fall. In a 2008 interview, Wilson said, "I was leaning towards [entering the draft], but a college education is something you'll always have."
In the summer of 2011, Wilson played 61 games with the Asheville Tourists, the Class A affiliate of the Colorado Rockies in the South Atlantic League. He hit three home runs with 15 RBIs and a .228 batting average. In January 2012, Wilson informed the Rockies that he would be pursuing a career in the NFL and would not report to spring training for the 2012 season.
On February 7, 2018, Wilson was traded from the Rangers to the New York Yankees and assigned to the Yankees' Double-A affiliate, the Trenton Thunder. Wilson grew up as a Yankees fan and promised his late father that he would one day wear the Yankees uniform. On March 2, Wilson pinch-hit for Aaron Judge in the fifth inning against the Atlanta Braves, his first appearance in a professional baseball game since 2011. He struck out on five pitches from Braves pitcher Max Fried.
In 2014, Wilson became part-owner and endorser of Eat the Ball, a European bread company. In 2015, he began endorsing Luvo, a frozen food company, and Reliant Recovery Water. On February 29, 2016, Wilson launched Good Man Brand, a clothing line which he co-founded. In August 2016, it was announced that Wilson had partnered with Juice Press to open the company's first Seattle franchise.
On November 14, 2016, Wilson announced he had joined Chris Hansen, Wally Walker, and Erik and Pete Nordstrom as partners in the investment group working to bring a new sports arena to Seattle's SoDo neighborhood for potential NBA and NHL teams.
Wilson met his first wife, Ashton Meem, while they were both high school students. They married in January 2012 and divorced in April 2014.
Wilson is married to American R&B singer Ciara. They began dating in early 2015 and announced their engagement on March 11, 2016. They were married on July 6, 2016, at the Peckforton Castle in Cheshire, England. Their daughter, Sienna Princess Wilson, was born on April 28, 2017. He is stepfather to Ciara's son Future Zahir. On January 30, 2020, they announced that they were expecting their second child together. The child, a son Win Harrison Wilson, was born on July 23 of that year.
Wilson is a devout Christian. He frequently speaks about his Christian faith on his social media accounts. Wilson and Ciara made a vow to be celibate until they got married.
His net worth as of October 2016 is $120 million.
Wilson is an active volunteer in the Seattle community. During the NFL season, Wilson makes weekly visits on his days off to the Seattle Children's Hospital, and has also visited with soldiers at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. In the offseason, Wilson hosts the Russell Wilson Passing Academy, a youth football camp, in several cities. In 2012, proceeds from the camp went to the Charles Ray III Diabetes Association, for which Wilson is the National Ambassador. In 2013 and 2014, Wilson partnered with Russell Investments for its "Invested with Russell" program, which donated $3,000 to Wilson's charitable foundation for every touchdown he scored.