ENGLEWOOD | Denver Broncos coach Nathaniel Hackett admits he worried at first when he saw Russell Wilson jetting off seemingly every weekend to one locale after another.
There’s the team’s new quarterback on the red carpet in Times Square for the launch party of the SI Swimsuit issue with his singer/model wife Ciara on the cover. There they are at the White House’s annual Easter Egg hunt. Or taking in the Cannes Film Festival one day on their French holiday and the Monaco Grand Prix on another.
Last weekend, Wilson gave the commencement speech at Dartmouth College and after the team’s mandatory minicamp concludes this week, he’ll root on the Colorado Avalanche in the Stanley Cup Final against the Tampa Bay Lightning at Ball Arena.
“It’s funny. I think when it first started, you’re like, ‘Whoa! Are you gonna be able to pick all this stuff up? Are we gonna be able to own the offense like we want to?’” Hackett said Monday after the team’s first day of mandatory minicamp. “But he does such a great job at surrounding himself with great people that help him out so that he can do all these things and still focus only on football.”
Now, Hackett actually marvels at Wilson’s ability to globetrot while not missing a beat when it comes to the offense the Broncos are installing.
“I mean, he’s nonstop working,” Hackett said. “If he’s on a plane, he’s watching film, he’s studying, he’s calling people, he’s calling me.
“And that’s what you appreciate. So you know what, everybody’s professional. Everybody does things different. Some people are here and they might not work even as hard as he does when he’s leaving.”
Wilson said football doesn’t suffer as a result of his busy schedule because “football is the No. 1 priority.”
“You do everything you can to spend extra time to get in early, leave late and do all that stuff. One of the things I believe in is that you pour your whole self into it and no matter where my feet are I’m going to put my whole everything I have into it,” Wilson said. “So when I’m here — even when I’m away from here — the coaches and I, we’re constantly talking. Players, we’re constantly talking.”
Besides, Wilson said he’s never been one to take it easy.
“I’ve always been busy, you know? Everybody’s always shocked how busy I am. I’m like, ‘You think this is busy? I took 18 credits every semester in college, I played two sports, played football and baseball,” Wilson said.
Back on campus in Raleigh, North Carolina, or Madison, Wisconsin, now those were some bustling times, Wilson insisted.
“I went to football lifts in the morning, went to class, then went to baseball, played to 11 o’clock at night. Then I did my homework,” Wilson recounted. “That was busy. That was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. So be able to do fortunate things, you know, to be able to speak at Dartmouth, obviously to support Ciara, my wife, and then also to do things with other guys, anything else, hang out when we can, it means a lot.
“So, you know, one thing that I’ve always believed in is it’s a lifestyle,” Wilson said. “You know, you have to make your whole entire being and your thought process about winning, about being successful. And with that comes great, great opportunities. But also comes great challenges and how do you manage those challenges? How do you think about it?”
Wilson said he spent time with the new Walton-Penner ownership group and he had praise for minority shareholder Mellody Hobson, chairwoman of Starbucks, who has agreed to join the group that won the bidding for the team at $4.65 billion.
Hobson, who is Black, is married to “Star Wars” creator George Lucas.
Hackett is a renowned Star Wars aficionado.
“Very excited about Starbucks and Star Wars,” Hackett said. “And Walmart.”
TYRIE CLEVELAND INJURED
The practice ended a couple of snaps early when third-year WR Tyrie Cleveland suffered what appeared to be a serious injury to his right knee while attempting to catch a touchdown pass.
Cleveland’s right cleat got stuck in the grass on the play and the team’s medical team checked out his right knee and shin before placing him on a cart and taking him inside. As he sat on the cart, teammates patted him on the back.