Teammates call him the anti-Iverson, Ajax and Tuesday Warrior. Coaches call him leader, mentor and the Cheese. Brian Russell prefers to call himself a Seahawk, or, Friday at the Cuff Complex, Pale Rider. Whatever you call Brian Russell, no one calls him lazy.
That's because no one works harder Monday through Saturday than Russell. He takes extra laps, works extra drills, sells legal insurance and works the midnight shift at the guard shack. Jim Mora remembers "I once asked him if he had anywhere to sleep and Cheese just said ‘the offseason'. Offseason, how gritty is that?"
Russell relates how it all started, "It all goes back to something my father said. He said, ‘Son, you win or lose on the practice field.' And I really took that to heart."
Teammates have noticed. "After games, he's just pumped out of his mind. He stalks the lockers like a panther. He says, ‘I feel the practice comin'! I feel the practice comin'!'" says Pro Bowl cornerback Marcus Trufant. "He lives for two-a-days. He used to steal Holmgren's Danish just to get him riled."
Former Seahawks quarterback Charlie Frye sees it differently. "One Tuesday last October, we were running first team defense against the second team offense and I was under center. The play was a Freddy Red Fingers out of our Green Talon formation. The defense was running a safety blitz, a play we call ‘White Lightning'. Russell comes lunging through the gap and I just sort of side-stepped him and connected with [Jordan] Kent for the score. He was puffing all the rest of practice. Just staring at me. Later that night, I pulled up to my condo in Bellevue and there he was, just waiting, glaring at me."
"I said, ‘Hey Brian, what's up?' and he just stood and stared and waited outside my condo all night. I got up the next morning and he was there. He jogged behind my Suburban all the way to the Eastgate interchange. There I kind of lost him, but damn if he wasn't there when I stepped out at Virginia Mason."
"Two days this continued. So on Thursday we ran the same play, but this time I just stood in the pocket and waited. He threw his whole body into me, kind of ramming his helmet into my sternum. I took a mercy dive and the play was over. There was Brian standing over me, hand outstretched. ‘You don't score on B-Russ in B-Russ's house.'"
"That's all true" says Deon Grant. "He's a maniac on the practice field. If I didn't know better I'd say he was jacked on somethin'."
"It's a wonder he has anything in the tank at all come Sunday, but that's how the Tuesday Warrior rolls. Every Tuesday's his Super Bowl."