Before Seattle Seahawks rookie quarterback Russell Wilson faced the Patriots in Week 6, he had a face-to-face encounter with the Raiders.
But they werent National Football Leagues Silver and Black from Oakland, but rather the Raiders of Joint Base Lewis-McChords 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division.
Wilson, along with teammates Brandon Mebane, Bobby Wagner and Greg Scruggs, paid a visit to one of three JBLM-based Stryker brigades Oct. 9, prior to the units deployment to Afghanistan. It was an informal meet and greet with Soldiers and their Families talking directly to players, even getting photos and autographs. Accompanying the players were a few of the Seahawks cheerleaders, the Sea Gals, as well as Blitz, the mascot.
Im blessed enough to have the opportunity to throw the football around for a living, Wilson said. It doesnt get any better than that. To be able do that because (these Soldiers are) willing to sacrifice their time and energy is pretty spectacular.
Wilson and three of his teammates spent their only day off in Week 6 of the football schedule to visit the JBLM unit. The following Sunday, Wilson threw two fourth-quarter touchdown passes to lead the Seahawks to a 24-23 win over New England.
Mebane, a defensive tackle who is part of the Seahawks No. 1-ranked defense, was also humbled with the JBLM visit. Mebane, whose father served in the Air Force, has visited JBLM three times, and each has been a different experience.
I remember in 2009 we came out here as a team and we tried to do the (obstacle) courses they did, Mebane said. Looking at it from the outside in it looked easy, until you do it I was all, I cant do this. I respect what these guys do and appreciate what they do.
Sea Gal Kelly Charltons father was stationed at Fort Lewis in the mid-1960s. While on car rides with her dad he pointed out to her the buildings of the Army post. Charlton recognized some of the same buildings on Lewis Main during the team visit.
Being able to meet these guys from all over the country is beyond my reality, Charlton said. I feel like on a selfish level, its really good for me to get to meet these guys. Its opening me up to their sacrifice.
The Seahawks presented 4th Bde., 2nd Inf. Div. an autographed 12th Man flag, along with a trophy to thank the Raiders for their service.
Specialist John Munday admitted his favorite team is the Tennessee Titans, but his wife, Kim, is a Seahawks fan and was present for the family event.
It means a lot to support the troops and for them to take time out even though they have practice and games, Kim Munday said.