Bobby Wagner: Kobe Bryant honor, Russell Wilson reaction

Bobby Wagner grew up inspired by the game and determination of Kobe Bryant.

On his debut with the Rams, the veteran linebacker honored Bryant by wearing a thigh pad that featured a photo of the late Lakers star.

“He’s one of the first players I watched from start to finish,” Wagner, who grew up at Inland Empire, said Monday, “and so he was someone I grew up to be.

“And obviously his untimely passing struck the world, and I felt like coming back to LA was a way to honor someone who did a lot in my life that they didn’t even know about.”

Wagner said he met Bryant once through former Seattle Seahawks teammate Richard Sherman. The focus of the conversation is business, said Wagner.

“I’ve heard a lot of stories about how he’s on the pitch, just how he was in the briefing room and stuff like that,” Wagner said. “As we sat there he was really attentive to every single detail when it came to business.

“I was just very impressed that someone who has spent so many years in a profession was able to change and be equally feared in the business world because they were so smart and consistent.

“So definitely someone I was like, ‘Man, I want to be inspired to be like this.’ ”

Wagner made seven tackles and had a sack in the Rams’ 31-10 season-opening loss to the Buffalo Bills last Thursday.

It was Wagner’s first game with the Rams after playing 10 seasons with the Seattle Seahawks, all with quarterback Russell Wilson.

Wagner was among the interested observers Monday as Wilson returned to Lumen Field with the Denver Broncos in Seattle.

That same day in March, the Seahawks traded Wilson to the Broncos and released Wagner. Wilson was booed during the Seahawks’ 17-16 win.

“I think at the end of the day the fans understand that you have your moment and then move on,” Wagner said when asked about the reception Wilson received. “I think they saw him as an opposing quarterback.

“The reception he got was what any quarterback that’s an opposing quarterback would get.”

Seattle Seahawks fans yell at Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson (3), their former quarterback, on his return Monday.

Seattle Seahawks fans yell at Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson (3), their former quarterback, on his return Monday.

(Lindsey Wasson/Associated Press)

The Seahawks’ victory was not lacking in drama. With the Broncos facing a fourth and fifth situation with 20 seconds remaining, coach Nathaniel Hackett opted for a 64-yard field goal attempt rather than giving Wilson another play.

“It was just, I think, that everyone around the world had the same reaction,” Wagner said. “I think they didn’t expect the game to go that way and I think everyone kind of expected you to have a guy like Russell who has the ball in his hands towards the end of the game and gives him an opportunity to take a to make play.

“When it didn’t happen, you sort of wondered why. But at the end of the day, I thought about it for a few seconds and reminded myself, ‘I’m an Aries,’ and it doesn’t affect me, so it is what it is.”

Wagner will return to Seattle with the Rams for the January 8 regular-season finals.

“As for my reception, I’m not sure,” Wagner said when asked what he was expecting, adding “they might feel differently.” Bobby Wagner: Kobe Bryant honor, Russell Wilson reaction

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