There was no bragging in the statement, and indeed, it didn’t even sound like Adrian Wilson knew exactly what he had just said.
But the Pro Bowl safety was recounting his relationship with Jack Morton, just about to turn 5 but a few years into his friendship with Wilson because Jack once upon a time was dealing with a pretty aggressive form of cancer.
Jack’s aunt worked for Wilson and his wife Alicia, and when the couple had found out about Jack, they “decided to get involved,” Wilson said, standing in a side room at University of Phoenix Stadium. “He’s gotten better ever since.”
It was said matter-of-factly and it was the truth. Jack, constantly hanging on to mother Laurie all afternoon, is in remission. Laurie recounted the story on a stage in the north corner of the barren stadium in front of a few hundred employees of Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club as Phoenix Children’s Hospital celebrated $1 million in contributions from the company.
Wilson said some inspiring words to the group before introducing Laurie and also surprised everyone with a $100,000 personal donation to PCH. He’s in a pretty good place in life himself.
Wilson shook off a rough start in 2011 to play another impressive season, made the Pro Bowl and then recently celebrated his 10th anniversary renewing his vows in a lavish Hawaiian ceremony. He has watched the Cards’ offseason unfold from afar, and shrugged his shoulders at the idea that it’s only the offense – between Peyton Manning and the quarterbacks, the tackle position and wide receiver consideration – that has generated the talk around the team.
“Offense sells tickets,” Wilson said with a small smile. “I guess that’s the goal of marketing, sell tickets, fill the stadium up. Defensively we’ll be fine. Our secondary, our defense, we were talking about it (Wednesday night), a bunch of us guys. It’s our second year, we should be trending up. We shouldn’t take a step back. Everyone understands what their role is and what we need to get done.”
The discussions Wilson has had with teammates so far included a talk with linebacker
Wilson is expecting the same, though.
The defensive success “just happened,” Wilson said. “We stayed in that groove for a long time, and to feel comfortable in the defense and feel comfortable in what everyone was doing, I think that was more than the coaches expected at that time.”
He said the secondary will be OK after losing Richard Marshall and bringing in
“It doesn’t matter,” Wilson said. “You go out and play on Sunday. It doesn’t matter what name you have, who you get in free agency, if you have a big name or not. You still have to play the game on Sunday.”
The games are still months away, however. He chuckled when it was suggested he might get nervous in front of the crowd, noting that usually when he was in the building there were 60,000 people screaming at him. But he’s in no hurry to get back to football either.
He chuckled and shook his head at that notion. Workouts ramp back up April 16 at the facility, later than in years past, and Wilson isn’t complaining. He’s been working out on his own – he certainly looks like he’s in mid-season shape – but he’s going into his 12th season and players who have been around a decade usually aren’t embracing a lengthy offseason.
“I think at this stage, for me, I don’t really need it,” Wilson said. “I can understand from a leadership standpoint, from a team standpoint, to have people there. But I don’t really want to be there.”
Wilson will be there, however. He is energized from his performance last season; He now drops hints of getting yet another contract and playing beyond his current deal, which runs out after the 2013 season when he will be 34.
Despite the surroundings at the stadium and the jerseys the rally organizers are wearing, football doesn’t seem to permeate the day. When Laurie Morton tells Jack’s story, she breaks down a few times, and the tears flowing aren’t unique to her.
These moments are important to Wilson. His son spent two months in the hospital when he was first born, and Wilson had moments when he wasn’t sure what would happen to him. The family is well past that now, but Wilson hasn’t forgotten. It’s why helping Jack was natural and why he remains involved.
“We keep our foundation stuff kind of quiet,” Wilson said. “But we enjoy helping little kids achieve goals.”