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Exhibiting Rare Consistency, Bobby Wagner Closing In On Another 100 Tackle Season

Continuing to wow coaches and teammates alike, the ultra-consistent Wagner will have an opportunity to add another milestone to his impressive resume when Seattle seeks its first win at Lambeau Field since 1999 on Sunday.

RENTON, WA - Playing a rugged, physical sport such as football, it's uncommon for players to last 10 years in the NFL. It's even more rare for a player to remain the class of his respective position for that long.

But now in the midst of his 10th season with the Seahawks, as he approaches yet another historic milestone, linebacker Bobby Wagner continues to prove he's an exception to the rule. For the past decade, it can be argued no other non-quarterback has matched his level of excellence between the lines.

Looking at Wagner's Hall of Fame-worthy resume, the former Utah State star already holds the Seahawks franchise tackles record by a wide margin. He's earned six First-Team All-Pro selections in the past seven seasons, entering rarified air as one of only 12 players to accomplish that feat at his position. He's played a starring role leading his team to the playoffs in all but one of his previous nine seasons.

What's been the key to his unrivaled consistency? As he learned through observing former Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, the toughest challenge for most athletes is finding a way to overcome boredom to stay on top of their game and continue to grow.

“People get bored with it. Doing the same thing every day, or trying to be consistent, people get bored with it, so they stray from it," Wagner told reporters on Wednesday. "You have a conversation with yourself and it’s almost like a negotiation where you commit to something, and you say you’re going to do it every day, then you have those one or two days where it’s like 'maybe I’m going to take a couple reps off. Maybe I’m going to take today off, maybe my body needs this rest.' It’s a constant battle with your inner self. A lot of people can’t handle that battle."

Fortunately for the Seahawks, much has been the case most of the time he's zeroed in on opposing ball carriers, Wagner hasn't lost those battles during his decade playing in the NFL. Despite his abundance of success on and off the field, he's remained hungry to learn and motivated to improve.

Though he couldn't pinpoint exactly when he began to understand the importance of consistency, Wagner began to develop a routine during high school and college that brought out the best in him both physically and mentally. Since being drafted in the second round by Seattle in 2012, he's been able to avoid stagnation by maintaining and re-creating those routines to stay on top of his game and further his development.

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"A lot of consistency is about growth, so I feel like the moment that I stop wanting to grow is when I walk away," Wagner remarked. "I haven’t felt like that, but there’s still aspects of my game that I feel like I can get better at. There’s still parts of my body I can get stronger. There’s still things I can do. I haven’t been bored because there’s still so much growth that’s still out there for myself.” 

In the latest illustration of his unrivaled consistency, Wagner will have a chance to enter an exclusive club when the Seahawks travel to face the Packers on Sunday. Currently tied with Bears linebacker Roquan Smith for the league lead with 93 tackles, if he registers seven or more stops at Lambeau Field, he will join London Fletcher and Ray Lewis as only the third player since 1987 to hit the 100-tackle mark in 10 consecutive seasons.

“It’s such a statement of consistency to come back physically fit enough to accomplish that," coach Pete Carroll said of Wagner. "He’s a marvelous athlete and he has a great work ethic. It takes everything to be connected to be able to pull off those kinds of numbers for so many years, year after year. He’s off to tremendous start, this is early in the year to be that close to 100 tackles. He’s doing great, he’s feeling good, and it’s a marvelous statement about consistency."

To put Wagner's remarkable production in perspective, no other player in Seahawks franchise history has hit 100 or more tackles in a season more than five times. Former teammate K.J. Wright holds that distinction, while Chad Brown and Terry Wooden accomplished the feat four times apiece. Eugene Robinson, who Wagner eclipsed for the franchise tackle record in 2019, only did it five times his entire career and four times while playing in Seattle.

Wagner also recently passed Seahawks defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr., who racked up 1,272 tackles in 13 NFL seasons with the Cowboys and 49ers, jumping up to 20th all-time in the category.

“That’s pretty hard to do and it’s a really, really special thing that he has been able to accomplish,’’ Norton said of Wagner hitting 100 or more tackles 10 straight seasons. “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.’’

With the fire inside him still burning bright, Wagner hasn't shown any notable signs of decline and remains the unheralded leader of Seattle's defense. It's been a remarkable journey for an iconic player who, when picked 46th overall in the second round in 2012, had his selection panned by many draft experts as a reach.

Now a decade later, the only people who look foolish are those experts who badly whiffed on their assessments and the teams who allowed Wagner to fall to the middle of the second round to the Seahawks benefit. Already with one foot in the door in Canton, he's poised to continue ascending up the all-time leaderboard for tackles as he further solidifies his standing as one of the best linebackers to ever play the game regardless of era.