Mostly because of his height, Russell Wilson has drawn comparisons to Drew Brees ever since he came into the league.
The following is a copy of the Seahawks quarterback's teleconference with the New Orleans media leading up to Monday night's game, as transcribed by the New Orleans Saints:
How much did you follow Drew Brees growing up and how do you want to emulate him as a young player?
"I followed him a lot. I watched him in his college career and I remember my dad telling me I have to watch this guy, this guy is awesome. And him throwing so many balls against the University of Wisconsin, I remember watching that game. I think he threw 89 passes. That is when I really figured out who Drew Brees was and then he got drafted by the San Diego Chargers. I watched him there. I really, really started following him a lot, studying him, my junior year of college and then also my senior year of college. When I went to Wisconsin I had tons and tons of film on him that I got so I just watched every throw, pretty much, that he had ever thrown for the most part in the NFL. I just really studied him, his footwork, and what he does. I know everyone compares our heights and everything, the thing that I admire about him is his leadership, attention to detail, (and) competitive nature. He is very clutch. He is very poised in big situations. You see that on TV. You see that when you meet him. That is when I really learned a lot about him. Ironically I go to the University of Wisconsin. I leave on July 1 (2011). I take a 17-hour ride to the University of Wisconsin. I don't get there basically until midnight on July 1, really one o'clock in the morning. I get there and I have this huge Uhaul, this 19 foot Uhaul with a car in the back and my buddies were driving my car. I get there and the street that I pull onto is Brees Street. It is just a crazy connection for whatever reason. I don't know why, but I love watching him play. He is a great dude. Playing with him in the Pro Bowl was a special moment for me and to really watch him in person and to see how he goes about his business on a daily basis."
What do you specifically take away from him and how do you apply it to your own game in the NFL?
"I think the intangibles are the first thing. Like I said, his leadership, his attention to detail, his competitive nature, his poise, those are all the things that I recognize as an athlete. As a competitive athlete, I notice those things. I study the game a lot and he is definitely one of the best at that, if not the best. I think the other thing in terms of just all the throws he makes. He is so accurate with the football. He has a purpose with everything he does whether it is his footwork, (or) the type of throw that he is making. He lifts his other players up. He makes the other players better, the other 10 guys in the huddle better. That is what I want to be like one day. It is one of those things. I am a constant work in progress. I have a long ways to go. He is definitely a great person to look up to."
There is a rumor you used to wear a Saints hat. Is that true or false?
"I used to wear a Saints hat at the University of Wisconsin all the time. I'm a huge fan. I watch them (still). I don't wear it anymore."
How is your team running the ball right now?
"It starts with the offensive line and they are moving their feet. They are setting up on blocks. They are doing a great job of being physical. As the game goes on, you usually get those big runs. You are starting off the game getting those three, four, five yards and then Marshawn (Lynch) finds a way to break one. That is what we want to do. We want to be physical. We want to be able to run the football. That is all the time, not just this game, not just a certain game. It is every game. We want to set the tone and that is how we want to play and then play action off of it and do some great things in the passing game and be very explosive. I believe we are the number one maybe team in the NFL in explosive plays and that all starts with the offensive line and being able to run the football."
What have you seen in the Saints defense?
"Coach (Rob) Ryan is a tremendous coach. He knows what he is doing. He has a plan and goes with it. He has his guys flying around. They are very athletic. You have to give a lot of credit to those guys. They have some young guys stepping up and playing at a high level too. You think about number 32, (Kenny) Vaccaro, but he is doing a great job fitting in and making some plays. There are so many other guys that I could name if you think about the young guys that stepped up and make plays for them and obviously you have the experienced guys who always make big plays. It is just one of those things. They have a lot of talent on the football field all at once. We are going to have to play our A+ football game. We are going to have to play our A+ ball and just go out there and stay on course, stay the schedule and complete the game altering plays. If it is throwing it or running it, we have to make those plays."
Have you noticed Keenan Lewis?
"Yes, he has done a great job, number 28. He has done a great job. He has long arms. He is physical at the line. He makes some plays. I believe he has three picks this year. He has done a great job. He has made some big plays for the Saints when they needed him. You have a lot of respect for him and that whole defense to be honest with you. Their defensive line has done a tremendous job of getting to the quarterback and all of that. We know it is going to be a tough feat. We know we are two top teams in the NFC we believe. It is going to be a great battle. It is going to be a dogfight and we are going to be ready for it."
How does Coach (Pete) Carroll approach this game? Do you look at it as a really big game?
"I look at it as the next opportunity. You never know how many days you have in this life. It is like one of those things where you have to respect the game. Every game truly is a championship game for us. I think that is when we hit our turning point last year when we really started believing in that as players and coaches and even the fans. But really, the players and coaches, the people in this locker room just believe in that every game does matter. We have to bring our A game every time. That allows us to practice at a high level. That preparation for the week really never changes and it shouldn't. If you have that mentality, that championship mentality, it really shouldn't change how you prepare mentally, how you prepare physically, the extra time, the extra work you put in. That is the thing that I have noticed about our football team that past year and a half or whatever is that we have done a great job of that. We've continued that. We can't just step out on the field and expect to win every week. Yeah we have a great talent and coaching staff and do some good things, but at the same time, it is the preparation that separates the teams, separates the player. We know that we are going to have to prepare the best. We have to do everything we can to have that championship mentality. It will be a great game. It's Monday night, a lot of lights and all that kind of stuff at the same time. It doesn't matter where we play at. It is 100 yards to 100 yards no matter where we play at, any time, any place, we will be ready. We just have to make sure we prepared that way and have that mindset."
Do you expect the Saints to be surprised about the environment at CenturyLink Field?
"I'm always kind of surprised about our environment, even myself. I am sure Drew (Brees) will say the same thing about being at home. It is just one of those things. It is unbelievable how intense the fans are. I don't think they will be surprised. They will know this could be a crazy crowd. They will be prepared. Drew is an experienced quarterback. The rest of their guys are experienced. They have an experienced football team. Coach (Sean) Payton is one of the best coaches in the National Football League. He will have his guys ready. It is a factor. It is real. It is a real factor obviously. New Orleans is one of those other places that is really loud like that too. But there is no place like home. Playing here is a special moment. It is one of those things that is a once in a lifetime thing you have to make sure you go to CenturyLink and watch a game. It really is something special."
Do you ever watch the Marshawn Lynch touchdown run from the playoff game against the Saints three years ago?
"No we haven't really thought about that. It is a new year, a new opportunity. Obviously everyone remembers that run. I remember that run. I wasn't even on the team yet, but I remember that run. We are going to need that type of play from him. We are going to need that physical relentless attitude from him and the rest of the guys too. It is going to be a huge game, but the same time it is a new year. We don't talk about that now."
Did you have your Saints hat on that day?
"I probably did. I'm not going to lie. I've always kind of liked the Seahawks to be honest with you. I liked the Saints for a pretty good time now. But obviously I am in love with the Seahawks now and playing here is a special place to play. Coach (Pete) Carroll is a tremendous football coach. John Schneider gave me an opportunity, the general manager, and Paul Allen, the owner. It is one of those things where you take one day at a time. You just try to continue to learn, continue to be on that constant quest for knowledge and continue to grow as a football player each and every day."
How difficult is it to play in cold and rainy conditions as a quarterback?
"I don't mind playing in the rain. I think for me, I kind of love it to be honest with you. I think that it is one of those things if you have big hands, and I have big hands. That helps a lot being able to grip the football. It is not a non factor really for me. Anytime I get to play the game of football, it is a special moment for me and is an opportunity and you just love it."
What are you seeing out of the Saints safeties?
"They fly around. They are physical. They come downhill and make plays. They find a way to make a big play when they need it. It is going to be one of those games where we really have to understand what we are trying to do, understand what they are trying to do to us and just prepare the right way. We need to just capitalize, (and) be poised in big situations. It is no different. They are still going to blow the whistle. There is still going to third and six. They are still going to be in the red zone. It is still going to be whatever backed up. All those situations are still the same, and we have a lot of respect for their players and we know that they are going to do a great job of it. It is going to be two great teams going after it and we are excited about that opportunity."
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