“He actually called me a few days before, maybe a week before, and asked me what were my thoughts about going [to Denver], and I was like ‘I don’t have any thoughts, my heart is in Seattle... It was really close, for him to call me and ask me a question like that... specifically... Not sure of the exact time, but it happened before it happened.”
-Bobby Wagner speaking on the Rich Eisen show.
Los Angeles Rams linebacker and future Hall of Famer Bobby Wagner recently appeared on the Rich Eisen show, where he spoke at length about his release from the Seattle Seahawks. He got into the gritty details of how it all actually happened, and while none of this is exactly a huge surprise, it is interesting to hear Wagner’s take on everything, including a deeper explanation of his much discussed and analyzed tweet that followed the news, but more on that later. First, let’s start out with the Russell Wilson news and where that left Bobby after hearing about it.
Rich suggested that the phone call from Wilson may have been the tip-off, but Wagner said that he had actually had discussions with teammates leading up to his release, and it sounds like they had heard talk of some sort. Bobby goes on to say:
“I kinda heard rumblings... I’m really close with all the players, I’m really close with some agents, I’m really close with some guys in the media... I really started to get an idea when the combine hit... when Russ hit, I was having a conversation with DK, I was talking with Quandre... I just thought it was wise for me to pick up the phone and call Pete and John... I got in contact with them, they wanted me to come out there in person, but... I already knew what was going to be said, I knew what was about to happen.”
Taking a step back, Wagner went on to talk about his plans and expectations as a professional and as a player on the Seahawks roster. He made reference to Ray Lewis, who played every snap of his career with the Baltimore Ravens, and whose situation has become a bit of a foil for Wagner’s. Bobby goes on to say:
“Initially, when everything happened... I always thought I was gonna be in Seattle forever. You watch guys like Ray Lewis, those guys play their whole career for one team, that was my vision and when it didn’t happen, you had to take a moment to realize you’re not in Seattle anymore, then you had to figure out where you’re gonna go, then when I ended up coming to LA, I though it was nice because I was still gonna be close to Seattle AND be in front of fam for the first time since High School.”
This prompted Rich to insinuate that the situation took Bobby by surprise, but this is where he started to get into the troubling issues surrounding how the team handled everything. Per Bobby:
“It did take me by surprise... I understood that there was going to be some changes, and I knew that things were gonna look a lot different... Me and Russ were the last ones [from the Super Bowl team], and I thought there was going to be like a conversation, just to let me know, but it didn’t happen that way.”
In keeping with this narrative, Wagner sent out the following tweet after he heard news of his release.
Crazy part about all this. I played there for 10 years & I didn’t even hear it from them that I wasn’t coming back.— Bobby Wagner (@Bwagz) March 11, 2022
This of course came up during the chat with Rich, and Bobby went into greater detail about who exactly he was talking to ahead of time, and the answer honestly surprised me a little bit (just because of the specific individuals he names), saying:
“We could have went about this situation a little bit different, we could have had a conversation, and I felt maybe because I am my own agent... it was a hard conversation [for the team to let me know].... I’ve had hard conversations with them for ten years. We’ve been a part of each others’ lives for ten years, so whether I had an agent... I still would felt the same way if I didn’t hear from them directly, cause I was just in the building, I was just there, I don’t live that far from the building... I think they think I have this like hatred in my heart, or like I feel some type of way about them... its not that, I just felt like they didn’t handle it, I addressed that with them, I told them how I felt about it, and you know both parties moved on, I don’t have no ill feelings towards Pete, towards John, towards Jody... It’s one of those things... understanding the business, I understood it, but I felt like with certain guys you should at least had a conversation, I had to approach them to confirm...”
Bobby also cleared the air with regards to why he declined to come in to meet with Pete and John, but rather elected to handle it by phone:
“I knew what they were gonna say already... I wasn’t in town, so why would I get on a plane for you to tell me what I already know? And so... let’s do it now, let’s not wait, why would we wait if... I already heard from everybody else.”
This seemed significant to me because — again — it speaks to the way the team manages their personnel issues, and is pretty much in-step with things we have heard from previous stars who have left only to later discuss how they had a less than ceremonious departure (thinking of Sherman, here). This stuff is never fun, and it is rarely pretty, but I still feel like the organization could do better for its players.
Seeing Bobby Wagner address all this stuff is both sad and frustrating to me, especially given that he has been such a stalwart leader on this team since he was drafted. Football is a business, but that is no excuse for poor business practices. Controlling the narrative is becoming increasingly challenging in the age of Smart Devices and Social Media, where news is never more than a few taps away, and players can generate endless discussion with just a few cryptic words. But that is not an excuse for the organization to handle the situation so poorly; there is no reason that Bobby Wagner should have been hearing about these things from teammates and agents before the team even made an effort to broach the conversation with him. He is a great player, an excellent teammate, and by all accounts an all-around incredible person, and as much as it sucks that he is playing for a division rival now... I get it. He says it’s nothing personal, but I think we are all going to see exactly how not personal it is when he is lined up for the first time ever on the opposite side of the Seattle Seahawks offensive line, devouring Drew Lock’s soul with his eyes and sealing his farewell letter to Pete and John with another bone crushing hit.
You can watch the full clip below.