The Super Bowl – the annual championship game of the National Football League – is considered the preeminent sports event of the year. The pageantry of the event goes far beyond just the game. Superstar performances at halftime, millions of dollars spent on 30-second television commercials, and celebrity appearances are all hallmarks of the extravaganza. Last year, an estimated 169 million people watched as the Seattle Seahawks blew out the Denver Broncos 43-8 to win Super Bowl 47. One player instrumental to the Seattle’s incredible performance was Russell Wilson, the 3rd year star quarterback. Wilson completed 72% of his passes for 206 years and 2 touchdowns.

Wilson’s achievements go far beyond being a Super Bowl champion

The 26-year old is a 2-time Pro Bowl selection, 2-time NFC champion, and was the NFL Rookie of the Year in 2012. One award that often goes unnoticed is his 2014 Pro Football Writers Association ‘Good Guy’ Award, given to one NFL player “for his qualities and professional style in helping pro football writers do their jobs.”

Of course, Wilson has been helping people do their jobs for years, namely his teammates. In addition to being an outstanding and inspired leader on the field, he’s also an outstanding person once off the turf. Much of this can be traced to his upbringing as a child…and his genetics.

Wilson’s father, Harrison Wilson III, was a Dartmouth alum and lawyer, perhaps explaining his son’s cerebral approach to the game. He was also a strict disciplinarian that taught Russell the importance of hard work and dedication, perhaps explaining his son’s tireless work ethic and commitment on the field. Wilson attributes much of his success to his father, and it is easy to see why. Then there’s his uncharacteristically positive image off of the field.

“My husband always told the boys if there’s any kind of business situation, wear a suit and wear a tie,” says Russell’s mother, Tammy, “That’s why Russell is very adamant about taking a shower and being well groomed after a game before he does his press conference.” This likely explains Wilson’s utmost professionalism and thoughtful demeanor.

Sure, anyone can be successful when their thoughtful, intelligent, disciplined, and hard-working. But what about when the going gets tough… really tough? Can that positive, enthusiastic disposition possibly be evident in such a situation?

Fast forward to the 2014 NFC Championship game… with his team trailing 19-7 against the Green Bay Packers, Wilson threw his fourth interception of the game. By all accounts, this was possibly the young star’s worst game of his career. The game was all but over at this point, with many fans heading to the stadium’s exits and Seahawk’s players looking dejected, many of them with faces buried in gloved hands …and then there was Russell Wilson.

“I truly believe in positive synergy, that your positive mindset gives you a more hopeful outlook, and believe that you can do something great means you will do something great.” – Russell Wilson

“Hey! We can still win this game!” “We can win this game. We can win this game! Stay in it! We can still win this game!” Even if nobody in particular was listening (or believing) to what their quarterback was proclaiming, Wilson believed. And that’s all that ended up mattering.

There was the heads-up touchdown pass to running back Marshawn Lynch. Then he ran one in for a touchdown. Then he scrambled on a seemingly impossible play and completed a pass to the opposite side of the field for a 2-point conversion. This was before he threw two long, perfectly thrown balls to win the game in overtime. Final score: Seahawks 28, Packers 22.

Make no mistake about it – Russell Wilson has some incredible physical talent. He is also one of the most mentally tough (and smartest) football players in the game today. However, this is not what makes Russell Wilson truly great – it’s his attitude – his positive, energetic, enthusiastic mentality that seemingly takes over football games. Wilson believes in himself, but he also believes that positive thinking can make others believe in themselves.

Pete Carroll, Seattle Seahawks head coach: “I think that he’s very, very special. I don’t know how he could play at the level he plays at and have the expectations and be able to live up to those expectations in the most challenging times without having a tremendous mind.”

Mark Rodgers, Wilson’s agent: “The (Packers game) wasn’t half-empty, it was totally empty for a drop at the bottom of the glass…and to stay positive and stay focused, that (he) would change the game. He was on the sidelines preparing his teammates for that moment and they could’ve been down on themselves, but instead Russell was thinking about what was going to win the game, and now how they were going to lose.”

This relentlessly positive mentality has allowed Wilson to work harder, achieve more, and to become the truly special player and person that he is today. The fact that he may win a 2nd Super Bowl trophy in just his 3rd year in the league is attributed almost solely to his outstanding, undefeatable, and positive mindset.

Final Thoughts on Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks

Wilson will lead his team onto the field Sunday to battle the New England Patriots in Super Bowl 48. The debate has raged on who will win that game, with the Seahawks being the slight favorites. One thing that is not being debated: that the Patriots had better keep a close eye on #3, no matter the score.