NFL

Adam Schefter’s feature “Waiting for Wilson” for Countdown evolved over years

The accumulation of calls and conversations with people over time started with that column.
Adam Schefter on his ESPN.com column that inspired his Countdown feature on Russell Wilson

“Good things come to those who wait” is an apt expression, especially when it comes to the Seattle Seahawks’ 2012 NFL Draft and their selection of quarterback Russell Wilson with the 75th overall pick.

This weekend, ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown (9:30 a.m. ET) explores that calculated decision with the feature “Waiting for Wilson” by NFL Insider Adam Schefter, producer Zachary Budman and director of photography Jason Jobes. The story includes interviews with Wilson, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, general manager John Schneider and four other members of the team’s scouting and personnel staff.

Schefter discusses with Front Row how the piece – nearly two years in the making – came to fruition and what makes the story so unique.

How did the idea for this feature come about?
I write a weekly ESPN.com 10 Spot column during the football season and my lead item on Jan. 4, 2013 triggered an idea. I was doing research as the Seahawks were getting ready for the playoffs. I decided to look at the picks in front of Russell Wilson, and I was astounded. The Jacksonville Jaguars took a punter, the [Kansas City] Chiefs took an offensive tackle and the [Buffalo] Bills took a wide receiver. These were all franchises that needed a quarterback or had some quarterback question, and they all took somebody else.

I remember talking to some people in the Seahawks organization about this. They said the decision to pick Wilson was something they had planned out a long time ago and they told me how much work they put into this one player. Then, I remember hearing about the Philadelphia Eagles – whom the Seahawks happen to play this weekend – gearing their draft around getting Wilson and how other teams had some level of interest in him as well.

The Seahawks were always on-board. They just didn’t want to rush. They wanted to do it right.
Adam Schefter regarding the evolution of the Wilson feature

The accumulation of calls and conversations with people over time started with that column. When you see NFL Films’ The Brady 6 and the 30 for 30 piece Elway to Marino on the 1983 draft and all the quarterbacks taken, the wait for Wilson was a marriage of those two kinds of pieces.

How come the story wasn’t told sooner?
We were going to do it two different times, as early as summer 2013 and again last December. That was the hope. For whatever reason, schedules just never matched up until we were able to shoot in August. The Seahawks were always on-board. They just didn’t want to rush. They wanted to do it right.

I would add that as much as I wanted to do this story, our Countdown producer Greg Jewell wanted to do it every bit as much, if not more. He stayed on me to do the piece for a while.

What was the most interesting thing you discovered?
The whole thing I just found very interesting, especially that Wilson was ticketed for Seattle all along. They knew they were taking him arguably the summer before. John Schneider wanted him and was obsessed with him. It was just a matter of whether another team that liked him was going to take him first.

How was the experience of doing this compared to your normal Insider role?
I love doing stuff like this. It’s just tough for me to get away. I wouldn’t want to do it every week, but as a curveball or a change-up, I love doing a story like this. That’s one of the reasons you get in the business – to tell a good story.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Schefter actually broke two big NFL stories on Aug. 4 while on his cross country flight to Seattle to do this story: Andy Dalton’s contract extension and Broncos running back Monte Ball’s appendectomy.

Part of the preparation that went into “Waiting for Wilson” involved building a re-creation of the Seahawks’ 2012 NFL Draft war room.  ESPN producer Zachary Budman worked with Seattle-based production designer John Lavin to build the replica room inside an office building in Seattle for a one-day shoot in October. (ESPN)
Part of the preparation that went into “Waiting for Wilson” involved building a re-creation of the Seahawks’ 2012 NFL Draft war room. ESPN producer Zachary Budman worked with Seattle-based production designer John Lavin to build the replica room inside an office building in Seattle for a one-day shoot in October. (ESPN)
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