About the Adrian story

Posted by Darren Urban on July 23, 2010 – 10:30 am

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.

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Posted in Blog | 23 Comments »

23 Responses to “About the Adrian story”

  1. By Tom on Jul 23, 2010 | Reply

    The article on Adrian Wilson you’ve wrote is incredible…probably the best thing I have ever read on this site (and I’ve read a lot on here, soon as they are published to Twitter I’m on here reading them) so credit to you for putting that together Darren.

    He is an incredible player, hope that he does stay a Cardinal for life…hopefully with a ring to go with it when he finally does retire.

  2. By Anne Stegen on Jul 23, 2010 | Reply

    Mr. Urban, that was a fantastic story. I was so inspired to read that. Adrian Wilson is a fascinating person. That, paired with your pristine storytelling made that a delightful read.

    I love all your work. You are so versatile. Keep writing, sir.

    Anne Stegen

  3. By Chris on Jul 23, 2010 | Reply

    Adrian-thank you for the memories and “letting us in”. Its an honor and privilege to have you on “our community” team AZ Cardinals.

    Darren- well said and I’m sure I am thinking what Adrian and everyone else is when I say- no one could have done this story better.

    Here’s to more A-dub wrecking QBs and anyone who dares to come across the middle! We do this together…

  4. By Chuckers on Jul 23, 2010 | Reply


    What a great inspiring story on A-Dub. He has my ultimate respect as a player and a person.


  5. By marblekyle on Jul 23, 2010 | Reply

    Adub has been my favorite player since I can remember. its cool of him to open up his life to everyone and kind of explain why he has that sort of mysterious personality that he does. great story. very inspirational

  6. By Javier Montoya on Jul 23, 2010 | Reply

    That was deep. That must have been a great experience for you Darren. Great Job. A-Dub is where it is. Stuck it out through all his pain and stuck with us through all of ours. A true example for any profession. We Love You A-Dub. A TRUE Cardinal.

  7. By Rick on Jul 23, 2010 | Reply

    The story brings GREAT insight into a GREAT person!!!! People like Adrian Wilson are what make me such a big fan of the Cardinals!!! You will notice that I didn’t say anything about being a great player because I think calling Adrian a great player does the MAN a disservice.

  8. By Rugbymuffin on Jul 23, 2010 | Reply

    Awesome job, Darren!

  9. By Logan Cooper on Jul 23, 2010 | Reply

    Great story Darren.
    Wilson is a unique breed and emulates what every athlete should be like.
    He is the type of person and player everyone should look up to and want to be.
    Loyalty and legacy is what it is all about and those two things Adrian Wilson has.

  10. By Nick Pepe on Jul 23, 2010 | Reply

    As far as best safties in the league, without question he is in the top 3. I think he is the best, but that could be considered prejudicial because of my love for the Cards. It would be great to see him hoist the Lombardi Trophy!

  11. By Rick R. on Jul 23, 2010 | Reply

    Outstanding article Darren, Well Done! Thank you for writing Adrian’s fantastic story and big Thanks to A-dub for opening up and allowing you to write it.

  12. By DON C on Jul 23, 2010 | Reply


  13. By Ditship on Jul 23, 2010 | Reply

    Thanks for the Wilson article and great job. He’s always been an enigma to me. I imagine for a guy like him opening up like that must have been tough.

  14. By Flood on Jul 23, 2010 | Reply

    Thanks for the great story Darren. A-dub has been my all time favorite Cardinal and it was great to see what made him the way he is. He’s the first great player we had that didn’t bounce the first chance got and I have been a fan ever since. Thanks A-dub for not being like Leonard Davis, Tim Mcdonald, Garrison Hearst, Thomas Jones, Jake Plummer, Simeon Rice, so on and so on. Thanks for building a legacy in AZ!

  15. By Rugbymuffin on Jul 23, 2010 | Reply

    An old school article, for an old school player.

  16. By VegasEric on Jul 23, 2010 | Reply

    Fantastic read. Kudos to both writer and subject.

  17. By Richard Moore on Jul 23, 2010 | Reply

    This is by far the best article I have seen about a Cardinal’s player—–ever. Darren Urban’s compilation of Adrian Wilson, (the young man overcoming hazards to become an elite pro-bowl caliber player), is touching, and compelling. He has given us an insight into the man who, though very private, strived to excell, and who learned to lead by example. Even today, his actions speak volumes for him, more powerful than words could ever be. Urban has captured the essence of the man, and provided us with a treasure at the same time. Thank you Mr. Urban, and thank you Mr. Wilson.

  18. By Walter on Jul 23, 2010 | Reply

    Awesome story Darren. Besides Whisenhunt coming in, A-Dub is probably the best thing to happen to this team. Not only is he one hell of a football player, but he’s a real man off the field. He’s loyal, a beast, and leaves lasting “impressions” on QBs around the league. Just ask Trent Edwards or Matt Hasselbeck. lol Generally whenever A-Dub is being slighted in rankings, you will always see Cards fans blasting the “ranker” and wondering why he isn’t at least in the top 3, and more often than not, you will se fans of our division rivals joining in on Wilson’s behalf. Even Niner fans! Someday, when he has his ring every NFL affiliation will finally give him the credit and recognition he deserves. A 3 time Probowler, 2 time 1st team All-Pro, 1 time 2nd team All-Pro, and the 10th player in the very exclusive 20/ 20 Club (Reed or Polamalu can’t claim that), I don’t know how he is not considered the best Safety in the NFL, maybe if he wore a different uniform… And if you ask me, he looks well on his way to the Hall of Fame. Kind of reminds me of another Cards great, last name Wilson, first name Larry. lol

    Keep it up A-Dub, and give Bradford a proper initiation into the NFL. lol

  19. By beauchamp on Jul 24, 2010 | Reply

    No exaggeration Darren I’ve read every item on this site since 2007 and you’ve definitely written a gem with the A-Dub story. When i went to NAU for a time i met him twice around town for training camp and he’s a very polite guy. As a superfan of this team I cannot wait until 24 is forever retired in our ring of honor!

  20. By Alex on Jul 24, 2010 | Reply

    A Dub,
    You have my utmost respect as a person and football player. There are two jerseys that I have, the first was a Tillman jersey and I just got your new black jersey sent to me here overseas so I can take a few shots and send them in to the Cards… I will sport that jersey proud knowing all of the things you have endured and accomplished. Gladly, I will be returning to the states just in time for the start of the season and will be at every game. Thanks for all you have done and continue to do for the team and the community.

    (Darren if you could pass this on if he doesn’t read this I would appreciate it and get you the pics)


  21. By LUKE on Jul 24, 2010 | Reply

    very good article about the best cardinal .Many times players with Adrian”s personality are mistaken for being unfriendly or mean and its nice to have a piece that is pure and correct on that players view of himself and the world around him.Its nice to read a story like that these days.

  22. By Scott H on Jul 25, 2010 | Reply

    Thanks for this one, Darren. I maintain that Adrian is one of the greatest players in the league today that so many people don’t know about. I think that’s a shame…

  23. By Scott H on Jul 25, 2010 | Reply

    …just to finish my thought, it’s a shame that everyone knows Terrell Owens, Chad Ochocinco, and Pacman Jones but so many of them don’t know who Adrian Wilson is. Just what does THAT tell you about how things go in the world today??? But with that said, I’m happy to let Adrian be our little secret. Who cares if the masses know him or not. Hey, he might just get into the HOF someday and if that happens, maybe a lot of people will feel foolish for not knowing who he was during his playing days.

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