Sports Spectrum Draft Special

Russell Wilson plays big game with heavy heart after passing of James White's father

Through two weeks of the 2020 NFL season, Russell Wilson has certainly made his case for MVP.

The Seattle Seahawks quarterback torched the New England Patriots on Sunday night for five touchdowns, after a Week 1 performance with four TD passes. Wilson’s nine touchdowns lead the league, as does his 140.0 passer rating and 82.5 completion percentage. Thus, the Seahawks are 2-0.

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“Definitely in the zone,” Wilson said after the game. “Locked in. Focused. Dialed in. My teammates are too. It’s a great group of men, like I said. I’ve been ready to play since the last time we had our last game in Green Bay [where they lost in the playoffs]. Every day it’s my mindset, just my performance, team and everything else, just everything that we put into it is just getting ready and trying to be great. I think that I have an obsession with this thought process of always trying to find more.”

According to ESPN Stats & Information research, Wilson joins only three other players to throw at least four touchdown passes in each of his team’s first two games, and only Patrick Mahomes in 2018 (10) threw for more than Wilson’s nine. According to Elias, Wilson’s completion percentage is the highest for any NFL QB who’s attempted at least 40 passes through two games of a season.

Yet, when talking to NBC Sports’ Michele Tafoya after the game, Wilson said he played with a heavy heart. Before the game, Patriots running back James White learned that his father, Tyrone, was killed in a car crash earlier that day, while his mother, who was also in the car, was in critical condition. White and Wilson were teammates at Wisconsin.

“My heart’s heavy, because one of my teammates, James White from Wisconsin — one of the nicest guys, teammates, one of the hardest workers, one of the best people I know — had a tough one, losing his dad. I’m not sure what the situation with his mom is yet,” Wilson said. “But my heart’s been heavy all day thinking about him, so obviously the game was the game. This year’s been a tough year as a whole and a lot of people that we know (are impacted) and people just going through so much. But James, I’m praying for you man, if you can hear me.”

Prior to the game, Wilson also sent out a tweet to let White know that he was praying for him.

Patriots leaders Devin McCourty and Matthew Slater also expressed their compassion for White. McCourty picked off a Wilson pass on the Seahawks’ opening drive and returned it for a touchdown, after which he put two fingers in the air and then eight — White’s jersey number is 28. On-field microphones picked up McCourty saying, “Twenty-eight, we love you, bro.”

“It’s tough. It’s hard to put into words,” Slater said. “We all have mothers and fathers. To lose them, that’s never easy, for a tragedy like that to hit. It hit us all. Puts things in perspective. … There are things that are so much bigger than this game. And today was a reminder of that. Life is such a fragile thing. You just assume that you will wake up and go about your day and return safely, but life doesn’t happen like that.

“For our brother to lose his father and for his parents to be in that accident, it hit us all in the heart. We were struggling. We haven’t processed it yet. That takes time. I don’t have the words to describe how I feel.”

White was inactive for the game after learning of the accident, which took place around 1 p.m. ET in Cooper City, Florida. Tyrone, a captain with the Miami-Dade Police Department, was pronounced dead at the scene, and a MDPD official later said on Twitter that Lisa White was hospitalized.

NBC reported during the game that Patriots owner Robert Kraft offered to fly White home, but he opted to return home with the team.

Please join us in praying for the White family.

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