Canadian-born tight end Willson not worrying about his NFL future

Willson not worrying about his NFL future

HASH(0xbf7760)

Luke Willson is seeing how the other half lives, and it’s not as easy as it looks.

The Seattle Seahawks tight end is at the Super Bowl in Houston working as a correspondent with TSN. Willson said life in front of the camera is much different than being on the practice field.

“I don’t know if I could do it, day in and day out,” Willson said with a chuckle via telephone. “I’m wearing suits and stuff on TV . . . the struggle is real right now.”

Fortunately for the six-foot-five, 252-pound Willson, a budding career in TV can wait.

The 27-year-old LaSalle, Ont., native finished his fourth season with Seattle and is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent March 9. Willson, who made US$1.6 million last season, would like to remain with the Seahawks but is prepared to hit the open market, if necessary.

“I’ve been pretty vocal in saying I’d like to stay with Seattle, I love it there,” Willson said. “But I’ve got to take into consideration many different situations (potentially with other clubs) as far as maybe being a little closer to home, team culture and my role on it, and contract, stuff like that.

“I’m hoping all signs point back to Seattle . . . that being said it’s kind of out of my control.”

For now the outgoing, personable Willson, who earned a Super Bowl ring with Seattle as a rookie, is focusing on covering the big game. While Willson would seem a natural for television, the NFL championship annually attracts thousands of reporters from many countries, often resulting in tight working quarters and plenty of waiting to interview players.

“That’s the thing because when you’re a player it’s like, go, go, go, everything is very efficient and time is blocked off,” he said. “Now, it’s ‘OK, the players are coming in 20 minutes,’ and then someone’s in front of you for an interview.

“I’m like, ‘Man, I’m, doing nothing.’ I’m getting anxious as it’s going down because I feel like I should’ve talked to 10 guys by now but I’m waiting in line for one.”

Seattle took Willson, who signed with the Toronto Blue Jays organization in 2011 before returning to football, in the fifth round of the ’13 NFL draft. The former Rice star has started 30-of-56 games with the Seahawks, registering 74 catches for 976 yards and seven TDs.

Willson said his development as an NFL player far exceeds his statistics.

“I’m definitely more complete than I was four years ago,” he said. “I remember coming in as a rookie and Zach Miller was ahead of me and I’d think to myself, ‘Wow, on the mental side of the game this guy was just extremely sharp. How does he know all this stuff?’

“This was my first year where our tight end coach Pat McPherson would ask me questions and the dialogue between us got much more complex as far as Xs and Os go and me understanding defensive schemes, what they’re trying to do and how to attack certain things.”

Seattle also has a decision to make at tight end. Veteran Jimmy Graham will have a $10-million salary cap hit in ’17 and Nick Vannett, a 2016 third-round pick, could prove to be a cheaper backup.

A viable free agency comparison for Willson, who has made about $3.3 million with Seattle, could be former Rice teammate Vance McDonald. The San Francisco tight end signed a three-year, $19.65-million extension with the 49ers in December that has options for fourth and fifth seasons. The deal included a $7-million signing bonus with $9.1 million guaranteed.

“It’s very surreal,” Willson said. “Obviously financial stability is life-changing but I’ve learned to really appreciate more the relationships I’ve made and the people I’ve met along the way.

“I’m kind of learning (business side of football) trial by fire here but I’ve talked to a couple of guys who’ve been through it and I’ve got a pretty good grasp of what to expect. I don’t want this to sound arrogant, but I think I’ll have opportunities and a lot of different situations will come up so it’s not like I’m nervous that I won’t end up somewhere.”

Willson won’t let money be the over-riding factor in deciding where he’ll play next season.

“A winning culture and a team that’s going to be competitive year in and year out are probably the No. 1 factors,” he said. “Don’t get me wrong, money is definitely a factor because when teams invest in you, they place value in you.

“I’ve been in the league four years and never not won 10 games. Seven months after I was drafted we won the Super Bowl and 12 months after that we were back in the game (losing 28-24 to New England). I’m definitely thankful for all the opportunities I’ve had but I want to play this game to win.”

Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press

Just Posted

Interior Health managers voice discontent

Negative comments about work culture aimed at CEO Chris Mazurkewich.

Students frustrated by UBCO response to harassment allegations

Kelowna - Students were unaware of resources on campus

Video: Bulky bobcat goes for a stroll

Bob Lindley shared a video of a sneaky bobcat strolling through his yard in Vernon.

Cops report explosion in number of thefts from vehicles in Central Okanagan

In just the first 2 1/2 weeks of 2018, the number has nearly tripled in Kelowna and West Kelowna

Kelowna and West Kelowna’s unsolved crimes of the week

RCMP are searching for a fraud suspect and vandal suspect in this week’s unsolved crimes

Kelowna’s Ursel to coach host team at Olympics

Bob Ursel is headed to the Olympics with South Korea’s national men’s curling team

WestJet appeals lost bid to scrap harassment lawsuit

Airline argues judge was wrong to have dismissed the company’s application to strike the legal action

Can U.S. border guards search your phone? Yes, and here’s how

Secretary of homeland security explains a new policy that let’s border guards check phones

‘Beautiful writer’ Nancy Richler dies of cancer in Vancouver hospital

Montreal-born author spent most of her adult life in B.C. as a fiction writer and novelist

B.C. commuters vote to rename bus service to ‘Jeff’

The company asked and the people of Facebook answered

EDITORIAL: With harassment allegations, students deserve better at UBCO

The lack of communication with students isn’t good enough for the Kelowna campus

Physical altercation turns to online threats in Celista

Police were called to a Shuswap ice rink after a group of men physically fought each other

Arson suspect heads to court

Vernon man suspected of starting a string of 2014 fires in Vernon

Opinion: Dare to be smarter

Just say no works for more than just substance abuse

Most Read