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Seattle Seahawks
Sports >  Seattle Seahawks

Seahawks’ Bobby Wagner is nearing a staggering 10th season of 100 tackles. He says there’s still ‘so much more growth’ to come.

UPDATED: Thu., Nov. 11, 2021

Seattle Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner has 93 tackles heading in to Sunday’s game at Green Bay.  (Associated Press)
Seattle Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner has 93 tackles heading in to Sunday’s game at Green Bay. (Associated Press)
By Bob Condotta Seattle Times

RENTON, Wash. – Seahawks middle linebacker Bobby Wagner says there’s one big key to achieving consistency – overcoming boredom.

In his line of work, the requirements of the season can at times seem like a drudge. Early-morning film sessions followed by midday walk-throughs followed by afternoon practices.

And even in a job as glamorous and well-paid as being an NFL player, Wagner says people can “get bored doing the same thing every day.”

The 10th-year linebacker admits there are times you have to have “a conversation with yourself, like a negotiation where you commit to something and you’re saying you’re going to do it every day. But then you have those one or two days where it’s like, ‘Ah, maybe I’m going to take a couple reps off. Maybe I’m going to take this day off. Maybe my body needs this rest.’ It’s like a constant battle with your inner self. And a lot of people can’t handle that battle.”

Fortunately for the Seahawks, it’s a battle Wagner has always found a way to win, saying, “I haven’t been bored because there’s still so much growth that’s still out there for myself.”

More proof that he’s overcome stagnancy may come Sunday when Wagner could set another milestone in a career filled with them.

If Wagner gets seven tackles Sunday against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field, he will reach the 100-tackle mark for the 10th time in 10 NFL seasons.

“It’s just a marvelous statement about consistency,” coach Pete Carroll said of Wagner, whose 93 tackles this year are tied with Roquan Smith of Chicago for the most in the NFL.

It’s a statement that figures to be cited when Wagner inevitably gets inducted into the Ring of Honor and likely the Pro Football Hall of Fame with his No. 54 someday hanging from the Lumen Field rafters.

Tackle stats are not as comprehensive as others throughout the history of the NFL.

But Wagner’s run of 10 consecutive 100-tackle seasons is unquestionably a team record, and one of the best streaks in NFL history – only London Fletcher, who played with the Rams, Bills and Washington, has a longer streak since 2000, with 14.

Ray Lewis, who is credited with the most tackles of any player since 1987, had 12 consecutive 100-tackle seasons.

No one in Seahawks history has come close.

Wagner long ago became the team’s leading career tackler, and he currently has 1,304. Second on the list is Eugene Robinson, who had 984 from 1985-95.

Helping put Wagner’s streak into some perspective, Robinson had “only” five 100-tackle seasons and four in his 11 years with the Seahawks.

Wagner’s longtime running mate, K.J. Wright, who is third in team history in tackles with 934, had five 100-tackle seasons, and four in a row from 2014-17.

Keith Butler, fourth on the list with 813 from 1978-87, had only two 100-tackle seasons.

Wagner plays a position where he should make the most tackles on the team in any given season, if all goes according to plan.

But the NFL is a league where best-laid plans often go to die.

One who has marveled at both Wagner’s durability and consistency – the one leading to the other – is defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. Norton played linebacker for 13 years with the Cowboys and 49ers, amassing 1,272 tackles, ranked 21st all time – he was passed a few weeks ago by Wagner, who is now 20th.

Norton had six 100-tackle seasons in his career but never more than two in a row.

“That’s pretty hard to do and it’s a really, really special thing that he has been able to accomplish,” Norton said. “… The fact that I had been able to play this game for a long time myself, I really understand the effort, the focus, the sacrifice, and discipline that goes into what he’s been able to do.”

Wagner’s impending milestone had Norton remembering the high hopes the Seahawks had for him after taking him 47th in the 2012 draft.

Seattle had specifically targeted taking an inside linebacker after letting David Hawthorne, the starting middle linebacker in 2011, leave in free agency.

As Seattle’s pick at No. 43 in the second round approached, four good linebackers remained – Wagner, Mychal Kendricks, Zach Brown and Lavonte David – who all figured to go soon.

That depth apparently helped compel Seattle to pull off a quick trade with the Jets to move down four spots to acquire two picks later in the draft, the Seahawks knowing they’d get at least one of the linebackers listed above (Seattle used those picks to take linebacker Korey Toomer and defensive end Greg Scruggs in the fifth and seventh rounds).

The Eagles then took Kendricks, from Cal, at 46 with Seattle taking Wagner at 47. Brown, of North Carolina, went to the Titans at 52 and David, from Nebraska, to Tampa Bay at 58.

All four became productive players – with Kendricks later serving two tours with the Seahawks – all starters for at least five seasons. David, a starter the Bucs’ Super Bowl title team last year, has eight 100-tackle years in nine full seasons and along with Wagner is one of only two players in the NFL with 1,000-plus tackles since 2012.

“There was a run on linebackers at that time, and he was the one we pinpointed,” Norton recalled Wednesday. “I was kind of nervous at first (waiting to get Wagner), but great timing by the scouting department.”

Some analysts wondered if Seattle had blown it by moving down, which allowed the Eagles to take Kendricks before the Seahawks could get Wagner.

That was one of the several issues analysts had with a draft class that was infamously panned at the time – the Seahawks would take a too-small QB out of Wisconsin with the pick they made after Wagner – but has turned out to stand the test of time as well as any in team history.

“We had focused on that linebacker group and the speed at that position,” Seahawks general manager John Schneider said after the 2012 draft. “So adding Bobby was a great deal for us.”

Maybe even Schneider couldn’t have imagined just how a great deal it would turn out to be.

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