JERSEY CITY, N.J. -- In many ways Super Bowl XLVIII will simply be a confirmation of sorts. A confirmation of what the Denver Broncos thought of a prospect they brought into their suburban Denver complex in the weeks before the 2012 NFL draft.
A quarterback named Russell Wilson.
"Wilson, we had him in, we loved the kid," said Broncos executive vice president of football operations John Elway. "To see what he's doing, you knew when you met him that he had the capability because of the presence that he has, that he had the ability to do what he is doing right now. He's athletic, can make all the plays and has the right attitude."
The Broncos liked Brock Osweiler, as well. And when their pick rolled around in the second round, they selected Osweiler. In large part the decision was made because of Osweiler's size -- 6-foot-8, 240 pounds -- a presence Elway says quarterback prospects must have.
Also, Osweiler was just 21 at the time of the 2012 draft and the Broncos knew whatever quarterback they selected would be sitting behind newly signed Peyton Manning for what the team hoped was several seasons.
But Wilson has now guided the Seahawks into the postseason in his first two years, including this season's Super Bowl.
"I met Russell Wilson ... I believe it was after I signed with the Broncos, so let's call it March or April [of 2012]," Manning said. "They were having players come in for visits before the draft. I was actually in the film room watching some tape, and someone brought Russell in. He was in town for a visit. I had a chance to shake his hand. It was an exciting time in his life, getting ready for the draft. So, I wished him luck and told him I enjoyed watching his college career."
Broncos head coach John Fox said he met Wilson during Fox's nine-year tenure as Carolina Panthers head coach. Wilson had been the starting quarterback at NC State before transferring to play his final college season at Wisconsin.
"I spent time in that part of the country when he was a quarterback at NC State with Tom O'Brien and his staff," Fox said. "So I actually got to meet him even when he was still in college at NC State, even before he transferred to Wisconsin. He's a tremendous young man. What he's accomplished in a very short time in our league doesn't surprise me at all; just his makeup, his leadership ability and just the kind of competitor he is."