Though he led all NFC players in voting, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson will not start under center in Sunday's Pro Bowl in Orlando.
As reported by Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times, Wilson will forgo his opportunity to start in favor of Drew Brees, who will be playing in his 13th Pro Bowl.
The gesture shouldn't come as a surprise, as Wilson has long idolized the future Hall of Fame signal caller. Prior to Week 3 matchup against the Saints back in September, Wilson spoke at length about how much of a lasting impact Brees has had on his own career and the sport as a whole.
"Drew is probably my favorite player to ever play the game," Wilson said. "I think about his legacy, what he's meant for the game. He helped open up the door for me to play as a shorter quarterback... I think about Drew and his ability to make great plays. When he's in the game, he's a spectacular football player, one of the best to ever step on the field."
Wilson and Brees first initially met at the Pro Bowl following his rookie season in 2012 and their friendship has only grown over the years.
This past July, Wilson took several of Seattle's receivers to a Padres baseball game while they were training for the upcoming season in southern California. Brees joined them.
"We just get to spend time together when we can," Wilson said. "It's cool. He's arguably the best to ever do it."
Though Brees didn't get to face off against Wilson in Week 3 due to a thumb injury that cost him five games, he still finished with 27 touchdown passes and just four interceptions in 11 games. The Saints bowed out in the wild card round of the playoffs, but finished with a 13-3 record and an NFC South title.
As for Wilson, he produced arguably the finest season of his eight-year NFL career, throwing 31 touchdown passes and just five interceptions. He led an NFL-best five game winning drives and guided the Seahawks back to the postseason for the seventh time in eight seasons before eventually losing to the Packers in the NFC Divisional Round.
While Brees, 40, expects to continue playing beyond this season, Wilson wanted to ensure he paid his dues to a legend who has provided valuable advice to him over the years and paved the way for shorter quarterbacks to thrive in the NFL. Handing over the starting job in the Pro Bowl is a good start.