What legacy and his mom means to Seahawks’ Man of the Year Bobby Wagner.

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Bobby Wagner has his own definition of “legacy,” and what it means to him. But first, here’s what Wagner’s legacy means to the people of Seattle. And beyond. A few years ago, just before Thanksgiving, the Seahawks’ six-time All-Pro linebacker was packing food into bags he was about to give to residents of his tiny homes. That’s the Seattle’s Low Income Housing Institute’s project to house the homeless he’s partnered with.

He learned that November day in 2019 high-school students frequented the Safeway in West Seattle near where Wagner was packing the bags. He walked into that grocery store. He grabbed the microphone of its public-address system. And he declared he was paying for everything that was in everybody’s cart.

For three years before that, including last year with Seahawks wide receiver Tyler Lockett while Wagner was away from Seattle for his one season playing for the Los Angeles Rams, Wagner wired money to pay all delinquent student lunch accounts in the Renton School District.

This April, a group of 16 young Black men from Seattle public high schools were in Washington, D.C., to tour Howard University. Wagner found out they were at one of the nation’s most prestigious Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). He flew from Seattle to D.C. the night before their tour. The next morning he shocked the giddy students by joining them for their day at Howard.

Wagner has given his time and money help young adults learn financial literacy. He’s advocated for more awareness to mental health. He’s funded iUrban Teen, Seattle’s nationally recognized STEM+Arts program for underrepresented teens that was founded in 2011. That was a year before the Seahawks drafted Wagner into the NFL and made him an instant franchise — and community — cornerstone. iUrban Teen has more than 9,000 alumni.

Seattle Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner (54) signs autographs before of the preseason game against the Minnesota Vikings at Lumen Field, Thursday, Aug. 10, 2023, in Seattle, Wash. Brian Hayes bhayes@thenewstribune.com Last year Wagner was in California’s Silicon Valley hosting about 20 students, including many from iUrabn Teen. He took them on a tour of venture-backed Bay Area companies.

He told GeekWire he “viewed it as an opportunity to take kids who might not otherwise get the opportunity and give them behind-the-scenes access to innovators in the venture ecosystem where they could hear about entrepreneurship, finance and early investing.” That was a week after he was in Seattle’s Husky Stadium hosting the Boys & Girls Clubs of King County’s annual field day.

Russell Wilson, Bobby Wagner leave Seahawks with triumphant legacy - ESPN -  NFL Nation- ESPN

To the kids, including his daughter, and families he’s affected in Western Washington, all THAT is Bobby Wagner’s legacy. It’s why he is the Seahawks’ nominee for the NFL Walter Payton Man of the Year award, for the second time in five years. “He has done everything that a guy can do for the criteria of this award. He’s been everything,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. “He’s a fantastic person. He’s a terrific family guy.

He’s got everything going forward for him football-wise. He’s done everything that he can do forever, and he’s doing it again. “It’s also recognized. The players know.” His legacy could be for his six All-Pro selections. His eight Pro Bowls, his 12 consecutive seasons with at least 100 tackles (the second-longest streak in NFL history). His winning Seattle’s only Super Bowl trophy 10 years ago.

Or coming back this year from a year away with the Los Angeles Rams to captain the Seahawks defense again in his 12th NFL season. But it’s not. Linebacker (54) Bobby Wagner of the Seattle Seahawks walks off the field after defeating the Houston Texans 33-13 in an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 12, 2021, in Houston, TX. (AP Photo/Jeff Lewis) Jeff Lewis AP Wagner says he learned the power and reach of the platform professional athletes have in our country in his first years in the NFL, from former Seahawks teammate Richard Sherman.

“A lot of that came from Sherm, just being able to use your platform in the right way,” Wagner said. “But then people along the way, kind of put it into my mind, that the more people, the more eyes that saw some of the things that you’re doing, they can actually speed that process up. Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner and former teammate Richard Sherman of San Francisco playfully jaw at each other after Seattle’s decisive 43-16 victory.

The Seattle Seahawks played the San Francisco 49ers in a NFL football game at CenturyLink Field in Seattle, Wash., on Sunday, Dec. 2, 2018. Drew Perine drew.perine@thenewstribune.com “If financial literacy was something that I wanted to help, instead of doing it by myself in silence, if I was to bring somebody with me or talk about it, maybe that would get somebody to help.

“I think that kind of happened when we did the stuff for the kids with lunch. When I went to L.A., Tyler (Lockett) reached to me to try to continue that (in Renton), because he had read it. It’s something that we’ve kind of started doing over and over again.” Through his philanthropy, Wagner has learned: “It’s OK to say it out loud because you can bring people with you and they can help you move the needle faster.”

Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Tyler Lockett (16) and linebacker Bobby Wagner (54) walk off the field after the Seahawks 29-26 victory against the Washington Commanders at Lumen Field, on Sunday, Nov. 12, 2023, in Seattle, Wash. Brian Hayes bhayes@thenewstribune.com LEGACY, TO BOBBY WAGNER What does “legacy” mean to Wagner? “I think it’s something that you try, not to think about, you try to move through your actions.

You try to be the best player, the best person that you can possibly be,” he said before his Seahawks played the San Francisco 49ers at Levi’s Stadium Sunday. “At the end of the day, you want to walk away knowing that you’ve made whatever situation you’re in, whether it’s with your family or with your team, better than when it was before you. “If you can give it your all and put everything into whatever you’re doing and then walking away and then make whatever that is better, that’s probably how I would answer that question.” Now 33, he’s answered it.

Seattle Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner (54) reacts to a sack on San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy (13) during the second quarter of the game at Lumen Field, Thursday, Nov. 23, 2023, in Seattle, Wash. Brian Hayes bhayes@thenewstribune.com He says he comes up with his ideas on what causes to help through his own experiences growing up in Ontario, California, inland from Los Angeles, then attending Utah State before entering the NFL.

“I think a lot of that stuff are things that come to my mind or that come to what it was that maybe I didn’t have or things maybe I wasn’t exposed to,” Wagner said. “A lot of the financial literary stuff came as a result that I didn’t understand anything about finances until I got into the league. I didn’t even know how to write a check until I got into the league. “It was kind of like the idea of, if that’s me, then I’m pretty sure there’s more people like that.” MOM WOULD BE PROUD He’s humbled and honored to be the Seahawks’ nominee for the league’s most prestigious — and, in life’s bigger picture, most important — award.

Wagner was also the team’s nominee for the Walter Payton Award in 2019, the year he stocked tiny houses and bought everyone’s groceries at Safeway. “It means a lot,” Wagner said. “Just highlighting some of the stuff that you do off the field, I think a lot of it was just people pushing me. “I didn’t really care that the work was being seen, per se.

You had friends, people from my team, obviously teammates saying that some of the stuff that I was doing would be more magnified if I put more eyes on it. It took a while for me to embrace that concept. But I think it’s special. “Especially this one, because I’m assuming a lot of it comes around the comic book, which means a lot to me and a lot to my mom.” The comic book is what he produced this year in conjunction with Virginia Mason Franciscan Health. FAST54 (his jersey number) uses multimedia storytelling to engage and inspire the community to learn about the signs of stroke.

Wagner’s mother, Phenia Mae, died following a stroke when he was a freshman at Utah State away from home for the first time. That is the essence of what legacy means to Wagner. Living for his mother, how she would want him to live. What would Mom think or say at the 33-year-old man her son has become? “Man…,” Wagner said, pausing to consider her legacy. “I hope she would be proud. I hope it would be a split image of who she is and who she was.

“That’s just me. I’m just an extension of her. Hopefully she would see that, and be proud of that.” Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald (99) and Seattle Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner (54) hug after Los Angeles Rams 30–13 victory against the Los Angeles Rams at Lumen Field, Sunday, Sept. 10, 2023, Seattle, Wash.

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