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Rams LB Bobby Wagner over messy breakup with Seahawks: ‘It’s just another game’

Orange County Register 12/1/2022 Gilbert Manzano, The Orange County Register

THOUSAND OAKS — Bobby Wagner was the heart and soul of the Seahawks and did plenty of winning during his 10 seasons in Seattle, but not even all the success the two sides had together could prevent a messy breakup this past offseason.

“Crazy part about all this,” Wagner tweeted in March. “I played there for 10 years and I didn’t even hear it from them that I wasn’t coming back.”

Wagner deserved a warning and Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and General Manager John Schneider admitted soon after that they regretted how they handled the release of one of the greatest players in franchise history.

But Wagner, who is now with the Rams, took the high road on Wednesday when asked about facing his former team for the first time on Sunday at SoFi Stadium.

“I am a mature man and that happened a long time ago,” Wagner said when asked if he has any hard feelings toward the Seahawks. “So, I am focused on performing at my best ability against the team that I’m playing this week.

“It’s just another game. It’s just a game coming up played in our stadium against a team that’s pretty good.”

Wagner, the future Hall-of-Fame linebacker, will return to Seattle on Jan. 8 for the regular-season finale. Maybe for that game, Wagner will express more emotions about playing against the team he won a Super Bowl with and amassed eight Pro Bowl selections and six first-team All-Pro honors.

“You never really make a game too big or too little,” Wagner, 32, said. “You never make like a Monday night game or Tuesday night game bigger or the opponent bigger because then it makes you inconsistent because you’ll get up for one game, but then you won’t get up for the next game. I’m personally just treating this game like it’s a normal game.”

Wagner’s balanced routine is one of many reasons why he’s highly respected in the NFL and it’s a leadership quality the Rams (3-8) have appreciated during a disappointing first season together.

It’s likely a lot more than just another game for Wagner, but he’s not showing it and likely won’t until the 1:05 p.m. kickoff on Sunday. Wagner and the Rams can play spoiler against the Seahawks (6-5), who are in the mix for the NFC West title and a wild-card spot.

“I did not pay any attention to them, to be honest,” Wagner said when asked about how quickly the Seahawks rebuilt their roster. “I was focused on the Rams because that’s what my shirt says at this moment.”

Wagner said he plans on being cordial with any member of the Seahawks who approaches him on the field Sunday, including Carroll and Schneider.

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“I’m sure they’ll come up,” Wagner said about greeting his former colleagues before and after the game. “I’m sure they’ll come up, I’m sure I’ll say something afterwards. At the end of the day, we’re still competing, so whatever happens, happens. There’s not really a set plan on saying, ‘What’s up?’ I’m just going to go about my routine. Obviously, I’m a kind person. I’m not going to stiff-arm anybody per se.”

Wagner has moved on and the Rams are happy he’s on their side. Despite the losses, Wagner is having another Pro-Bowl-worthy season, but his leadership means plenty more to the Rams.

“I think just watching how committed he is to a process, to a standard of a consistent approach regardless of the circumstances,” Rams coach Sean McVay said. “We always talk about the difference between a thermostat and a thermometer, and he truly is a thermostat where he doesn’t let the external circumstances dictate going low or high. He’s always ramping things up and that’s as big a compliment as I can give anybody, especially just given the perspective that this year has given me, and I think a lot of people in our building.”

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