Spot the ghost: An X factor for QB Russell Wilson?

While things are not going very well in his second playoff game with the Seattle Seahawks (writing at halftime), it’s pretty clear that the amazing success of the undersized, yet tough as nails, quarterback Russell Wilson has been one of the National Football League’s most amazing stories this year.

The Washington Post produced a profile of the rookie the other day, which ran within days of a similar story — the latest of many — about another amazing rookie, Washington’s Robert Griffin III.

In both cases the stories tried to explain the amazing leadership skills possessed by these two young men, the almost supernatural ability they have to remain calm and to lead others.

The bottom line: What’s so different about these guys, I mean, other than the fact they are African-Americans, academically brilliant and have unusual levels of talent? Might the X factor have something to do with their backgrounds and, well, the way their lives revolve around their families and their faith?

Consider this part of the Post take on Wilson:

Wilson is undersized. He speaks in cliches. He talks about faith and family. He doesn’t hit the town with teammates, and many nights he’s in bed by 9 p.m.

“He’s always serious, even when we’re not supposed to be serious,” Seattle fullback Michael Robinson said. “That’s a good thing.”

“He’s pretty much all work and no play,” tight end Anthony McCoy added.

I don’t know about you, but this passage seems to be suggesting that there is a moral component to Wilson’s early success. And that “faith” reference? Might there be a follow-up question there?

Nope. Apparently not.

The story does, however, do move on to do a pretty good job of sketching out the importance of his heritage:

Russell Wilson’s family tree is rooted in special. His grandfather was president of Norfolk State University, and his grandmother was a college professor. His uncle went to Harvard Law School and is an accomplished Washington attorney, and his father studied law at Virginia and practiced in Richmond. …

Wilson attended the Collegiate School in Richmond and played football there for Charlie McFall. Though his talent was undeniable, football seemed to have a ceiling. Tom Holliday, N.C. State’s associate head baseball coach, first saw Wilson play baseball as a junior and he had no doubts. “He was a major league baseball prospect,” Holliday said. “He was probably a football player who could maybe make football work because he was so athletic. But you could see a future in baseball.”

Wilson attended N.C. State and played both sports. Several members of his family had competed collegiately, including his father, Harrison Wilson III, who played football and baseball at Dartmouth. In fact, Harrison III attended training camp and played in the 1980 preseason with the San Diego Chargers, reportedly one of the last players cut.

Wilson’s father was a guiding influence but he became sick midway through Wilson’s time at N.C. State. Still, he followed Wilson’s exploits from afar.

Harrison Wilson III died in 2010, about the time his son was drafted to play major-league baseball. Losing his father seemed, at a crucial moment, to have further fueled the son’s drive to push for excellence.

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