I have known Adrian Wilson since he was drafted by the Cardinals. By time, that is long. But it only had so much depth. He, by his own admission, doesn’t let many people in to his life.
That doesn’t mean A-Dub doesn’t have a great personality or isn’t friendly. His laugh is deep (and while I had never thought about it, teammate Kenny Iwebema a few weeks ago said Wilson has “the Predator laugh” and I thought back to the movie. Funny. But true too). Wilson is the guy who, after he finally made the Pro Bowl in 2006, flew media relations manager Chris Melvin out to Hawaii with him as thanks for his help in getting his name out there.
He was the guy who, when word first got out that I was leaving my newspaper job covering the team to come inside the walls of the organization to do the same, congratulated me (finding me in Melvin’s office with my back to the door, the congrats came with a vice-grip squeeze of my shoulders). He’s the guy who could make you jump through a couple of hoops before convincing him to do something, not because he was a jerk but instead because he enjoys busting chops once it a while. Even the times when he just declined to talk to me as a reporter, there never seemed to be malice in it.
He’s the guy who wept when the Cardinals won the NFC Championship and made it to the Super Bowl.
I knew bits and pieces of Adrian. Then he asked me if I wanted to come back to North Carolina this summer to cover him and his high school jersey retirement. I said yes, and told him I wanted to do two stories (and what will also be two different video pieces). One would be about the night itself. The other would be a “Who is Adrian?” story.
That only works if he let everyone in, because once I knew, I’d write about it and we’d do a broadcast piece on it and everyone would know. Adrian was willing to do that. He was fantastic driving me and the broadcast department’s John Hayward around High Point, revealing parts of his life I never knew about in all the years I had talked to him.
(A quick aside: One of his best friends, Adrian Mack, was gold helping fill in the blanks when A-Dub didn’t have the time. Mack was a football teammate of Wilson’s in high school. “I was the captain of the defense at linebacker and he was safety,” Mack said. “So it was like I called the shots and he had my back.” And even now, that hasn’t changed, although Mack has Wilson’s back plenty.)
Why now? Good question. Not that Wilson will ever shed the chip on the shoulder that has served him so well. He wore the No. 2 in practice all those years because he was “second-best,” even though I couldn’t nail down who was calling him that. Also know if there is an article or talking head downplaying him or leaving him out of the best safeties conversation, Wilson notices.
But I think when it comes to his legacy – which I think is more important to him than money or the fame – Wilson is more comfortable where he is now. So he was willing to let us all in about then, which is how I framed my lengthy Adrian story just posted.
In the time of blogging and quick stories for the internet, I don’t get to write many long, spend-a-lot-of-time-on-it stories anymore. I think this turned out pretty well. In the end, it wouldn’t have been possible if Adrian hadn’t opened up and let us in.
Tags: Adrian Wilson, Kenny Iwebema
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