Mon, 06 Feb 2023

Pete Carroll and Seahawks players discuss facing Bobby Wagner for the first time. John Boyle

INGLEWOOD-Pete Carroll had to be a little conflicted watching Bobby Wagner's performance on Sunday.

On one hand, Wagner spent 10 seasons in Seattle and became one of the best players in franchise history, all under Carroll's watch. For a decade, Wagner represented the Seahawks as well as anyone possibly could have both as a player and as a human being. There's still a lot of love for Wagner in the Seahawks locker room and within the coaching staff.

On the other hand, Wagner was making things very difficult for the Seahawks throughout Sunday's game.

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The Seahawks managed to pull off a 27-23 victory thanks to some late-game heroics from Geno Smith, but not without Wagner and company making life very difficult on the Seahawks. In his first game against his former team, Wagner had two sacks, three tackles for loss, seven tackles, and an interception on which he ripped the ball away from running back Tony Jones Jr., a play that the Seahawks thought should have been a catch for Jones, who's knee was down before Wagner got the ball, but that stood after review.

"Bobby played great today," Carroll said. "He was a factor in the running game. He had two sacks today. He gets a pick on the play that I'm still arguing about, and I can't wait to see him so I can argue to him too, because I'll tell him he didn't catch it and he's going to tell me he did. I'm really proud to tell you, he was a great player in our program for all those years. He'll always be one of our guys, but today, to rise up like that and to play like that is something he's going to remember. It was notable. What else is he going to do? Of course he's going to do something like that. So, hat's off to him."

After his press conference, Carroll went a met with Wagner to reconnect after the game, one of many postgame reunions for Wagner, many of which took place on the field immediately after the game ended.

Receiver Tyler Lockett called Wagner, "An amazing big brother to me, to a lot of people on this team that got the chance to play with him. Being able to play against him, it's really cool, because you go against somebody every single day in practice, and now you finally get a chance to line up and see what it's like to go against Bobby, a Hall of Fame player, one of the best to ever do it at linebacker... I wish he was still here, man, but it was a great just to be able to play against him.

Receiver DK Metcalf built a particularly strong bond with Wanger during their three years as teammates, and credits the linebacker with teaching him how to be a professional.

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"It was fun just to talk (stuff) to him, knowing he was on the other side of the ball," Metcalf said. "Knowing the early-morning workouts and all the times we got to spend with each other, and then just to go against him on the other side of the ball, he's one hell of a linebacker and a hell of a competitor, and it was just great to go against him. He had all my respect coming into this game, but after this game playing him, he has much more respect form me."

Added safety Quandre Diggs, "He's one of my favorite teammates in the world. Me and Bobby talk very regularly anyways, so we didn't really talk before the game-he knows me, I know him-but after the game we just ha d a moment, we embraced, and I just told him how appreciative I am for everything he's done for me. I came here in 2019, he was one of the guys that took me under his wing and showed me the way, showed me what's the standard around here. I'm just trying to continue that. The culture and everything, it started with Bobby."

Even after getting sacked by Wagner twice and intercepted by him once, quarterback Geno Smith had nothing but good things to say about facing his former teammate.

"Man, it was great," Smith said. "It was great. You know, Bobby is a player who I've always admired. He's always been just an extremely great leader, a very consistent player, Hall of Fame caliber football player and you know, a guy who I really learned a lot from. With just his demeanor, the way he carries himself, his passion for the game, he made a ton of great plays out there. We expected that. He was leading those guys the entire time. Little bit of trash talk, you know, all fun and games, and it was just a blessing to be able to go out there and compete against him."

Said Wagner, "At the end of the day, during the game we compete, and after the game, regardless of the outcome, they're still my brothers over there, so everybody came and said what's up, and I showed respect."

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