- YouTube/Wisonsin Badgers
This past weekend, Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson gave an impassioned commencement speech about perseverance to the University of Wisconsin at Madison class of 2016. And he didn’t give Tom O’Brien, his former coach at North Carolina State University, any breaks.
“The moments that really matter are the moments when life tells you no,” Wilson said before launching into a discussion of how he was underestimated while at NC State.
Wilson, who apologized for his poor Southern accent, put on a drawl to impersonate O’Brien:
The summer before my senior year of college, I’m playing minor league baseball. I call my football coach at NC State and say, ‘Hey, coach, I’d like to come back for my senior year.’ And he told me I wasn’t coming back.
He said, ‘Listen, son, you’re never going to play in the National Football League. You’re too small. There’s no chance. You got no shot. Give it up.’
I said, ‘So you’re telling me if I come back to N. State, I won’t see the field?’ He said, ‘No, son, you won’t see the field.’
After that conversation, Wilson transferred to Wisconsin, where he finished his collegiate career.
“In the end, what started out as the biggest ‘no’ of my career became the biggest ‘yes’ of my career,” he said.
Wilson also used some self-deprecating humor, advising graduates not to throw an interception in a Super Bowl game if they’re playing the New England Patriots, as he did in 2014.
He also alluded to his relationship with singer Ciara, whom he became engaged to in March.
“If you’re dating a woman that’s way out of your league, ask her to marry you,” he said.
You can see his entire speech here: