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Wistrom gets ready to face old team, and stand-in Bryce Fisher

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  • Wistrom gets ready to face old team, and stand-in Bryce Fisher

    Wistrom gets ready to face old team, and stand-in Bryce Fisher By Greg Bishop
    Seattle Times staff reporter

    KIRKLAND ó Funny how things work, lives intersecting and disconnecting, only to circle back in a way that seems impossible.

    Grant Wistrom was Midwest ethos at its best, a hard worker who stayed at home and did just that. He played high-school football in Webb City, Mo., college football at Nebraska and pro football in St. Louis.

    Then hard work met paydirt, and along came a $33 million contract, which included a $14 million signing bonus, which whisked Wistrom from his roots to Seattle and a division rival.

    And so who do the Rams replace Wistrom with? None other than Bryce Fisher, a Renton native and Seattle Prep graduate.

    And who do the Seahawks host this weekend? None other than the St. Louis Rams, Wistrom's former team, with one of his pupils manning his old position in the area in which the pupil grew up.

    Funny how things work. Although neither Fisher nor Wistrom laughed too hard.

    Said Wistrom: "You can hype it up all week long as much as you want. Everybody is making a bigger deal out of this than I am. It's just another football team, another opponent and a game we have to win."

    Said Fisher: "I expect it to be like any other road game. Except my mom will love it more."

    Wistrom knows this won't be like any other game. Too many memories involved. Too many old friends to shake hands with. Too much importance in the grand scheme of the NFC West, a division in which the Seahawks hold a 1Ĺ-game lead.

    Too much emotion, period.

    "There is a deep, deep emotional impact," St. Louis coach Mike Martz said of Wistrom leaving. "He's like one of my family, one of my kids. I just miss him. I do. I miss him."

    So does the Rams defense. Last season, St. Louis led the NFL with 46 takeaways, good for a turnover differential of plus-seven, seventh best in the NFL. The Rams, sans Wistrom, forced two turnovers in their last game, their only takeaways in their first four games, tied for last in the NFL.

    Meanwhile, the Seahawks, with Wistrom, have forced 10 turnovers, tied for fifth best in the league, for a plus-seven differential, third best in the NFL.

    "Wow," safety Aeneas Williams said. "The ability for a defensive end to make plays all over the field, almost like a linebacker, is contagious. You get big plays that are unexpected out of a defensive end being able to run and pursue. You get caused fumbles, tipped balls. I don't know if I've ever seen a defensive lineman with that kind of tenacity."

    One player can't make that much a difference. Can he?

    "You can talk about all those famous Seahawks ó the Matt Hasselbecks and so forth," ESPN analyst Mark Schlereth said. "But the bottom line is they're getting it done up front. That's offense and defense. And that points directly to Grant Wistrom. On paper, he's just a guy. On the field, he's a difference maker."

    Fisher is developing into that kind of player. He's recorded 14 tackles this season, 1-1/2 sacks and one pass defensed. In one less game, Wistrom has posted similar numbers: 12 tackles, 2-1/2 sacks and one pass defensed.

    This is Fisher's third season with the Rams, and for the first two, Fisher knew he would play only sparingly when he traveled to Seattle. Now, he'll get to hear his name announced over the loudspeaker in his hometown.

    And something even more important.

    "I'm sending out for grandma's cooking," Fisher said.

    You won't read a story about Wistrom that doesn't include the words "relentless" and "motor" paired together. And that's what Fisher said he learned from watching him ó that the natural ability that carried him through college in the Air Force wouldn't carry him to the top of the NFL. To develop his own "relentless motor" to use on every play.

    "There were a lot of questions about whether I could handle this," Fisher said. "I started to answer some of those questions so far this season. I've done some good things and some really dumb things."

    The Fisher family wanted good seats to this game, so many bought them early and some even bought season tickets to ensure the best seats possible. Fisher expects a dozen friends and family in the stands.

    Wistrom expects a larger reception when he returns to St. Louis in November, which was part of the reason he downplayed this Seahawks home game yesterday. For the most part, Wistrom kept minimizing playing against the team he won a Super Bowl with in 2000.

    "I wanted to be the type of player that played his entire career in one city," Wistrom said. "But on that same note, I can't imagine being in a better situation."

    Then, he added: "I hope they do very well. Except for these two games."

    Fisher seconded that notion, finishing this game of export-import. "I wish Grant well," he said, "just not on Sunday."

    Keeping the Rams Nation Talking

Related Topics


  • RamWraith
    Wistrom's Address Changes, Effort Remains
    by RamWraith
    By Nick Wagoner
    Staff Writer

    In this day of free agency and big money contracts, it is rare for a player to stay in one place his entire career.

    Gone are the days of Dan Marino, Jim Kelly and John Elway, who played their entire careers in one place. Even Emmitt Smith, who was the defining player for the Dallasí dynasty of the 1990s, is playing for Arizona. The sight of someone like Michael Jordan in a Washington Wizardsí uniform will forever haunt Bullsí fans, who grew accustomed to Jordan winning championships in their black and red.

    Grant Wistrom seemed to be the kind of player who could spend his whole career in one place. The defensive end played his college football at Nebraska, and was drafted by the Rams in 1998 as the sixth pick overall. After six productive and winning seasons, Wistrom signed with the Seahawks on March 4.

    Wistrom said he always envisioned being the rare athlete to play from start to finish in the same city.

    ďI always envied the old (football) Cardinals that Iíd see around town, the guys that got to play there their whole career and got to retire there,Ē Wistrom said. ďI always wanted to be one of those guys. I donít think there couldíve been anything better, but obviously, the opportunity didnít present itself."

    ďI couldnít imagine being in a better situation than Iím in right now. Iím playing for a great organization. Iím playing for a great football team, in a city that Iím really starting to like. It would have been nice to have stayed in St. Louis, but those things donít always work out, so I couldnít imagine being happier anywhere else.Ē

    Some might ask why Wistrom would leave if he was so happy in St. Louis. If he was a free agent and had the right to choose, why wouldnít he choose to stay in a place he was so happy?

    The answer is free agency, money and a perfect opportunity. Wistrom was wanted in St. Louis as much as he wanted to stay. St. Louis wanted to keep him, but when push came to shove, Seattle made an offer that nobody else was even close to. Desperate for a leader on a young defensive line, the Seahawks were intent on making sure Wistrom didnít leave the Emerald City without putting pen to paper.

    The offer contained more numbers than Wistrom ever thought possible. He didnít leave. He signed a six-year, $33 million contract, with a $14 million signing bonus. That might seem like a lot of money for a defensive end who has never had more than 11 sacks. That kind of cash is usually reserved for the high-end pass rushers, but as Ramsí coach Mike Martz is quick to point out, Wistrom is well worth the money.

    ďSo many of these guys that get the money that Grant gets, they are pass rushers,Ē Martz said. ďThatís how they see themselves, as a specialist. Thatís not Grant. Heís the whole package, as we all know. He makes tackles, because he chases the...
    -10-08-2004, 08:11 PM
  • RamWraith
    Former Rams return - in Seahawks blue
    by RamWraith
    By Kathleen Nelson

    Not only have the Seattle Seahawks stolen a pair of Rams defensive ends, they've taken away the team's meal ticket in Seattle.

    First, Grant Wistrom left St. Louis for the Pacific Northwest after the 2003 season. Last year, Bryce Fisher departed to return to mom's home cooking. A native of Renton, Wash., Fisher sweet-talked his mother, Diana Ferrant, into laying out a spread for his Rams teammates on their annual visits to Seattle. Among the delicacies were paella, red beans and rice, chicken, pork chops, potato salad and cucumber salad, a favorite of fellow DE Leonard Little.

    "My mom doesn't root for you guys anymore," Fisher said on a conference call Wednesday. "As far as she's concerned, her baby is home, and the only people she needs to feed are Seattle Seahawks. My mom used to do it big. Now, these guys get to eat my mom's food."

    Lucky for the Rams' stomachs that their first meeting with the Seahawks is Sunday at the Edward Jones Dome.

    "We feel very fortunate to have them," Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren said of Wistrom, Fisher and presumably, Fisher's mom. "They're doing the same things for us that they did for the Rams. They give you everything they have. They play hard, and they're good people."

    The move to Seattle was logical for Fisher, who led the Rams last year with 8 1/2 sacks, the same number as the man he replaced in Seattle, Chike Okeafor. Then again, he didn't have many options, as the Seahawks were the only team to make him an offer in free agency.

    "St. Louis didn't even make an offer to try to keep me," he said, but added, "I love it. This is where I'm from. I get paid a lot of money, I start and I'm home. You can't beat that."

    Fisher is just one piece of a rebuilt puzzle that features seven new starters on defense. He said the transition "hasn't been too tough," and again this year, Fisher leads the Seahawks in sacks, with three in four games.

    One of the biggest plusses, besides mom's home cookin', is having Wistrom serve as the bookend on the right side. Fisher served as Wistrom's backup in St. Louis and got the chance to shine after Wistrom left for Seattle.

    "He's a great guy," Fisher said. "We're back to busting each other's chops and giving each other a hard time. It's just like when I was in St. Louis a couple years ago."

    With a four-year, $10 million contract, Fisher said he had something to prove. Wistrom knows the feeling. In fact, he can't shake it. After missing five games in his first six seasons, Wistrom missed eight games because of injuries to his knee, foot and back in 2004, when he made 38 tackles and had 3 1/2 sacks. So, he approaches 2005 almost as if it's the first year of his six-year, $33 million deal.
    -10-09-2005, 08:31 AM
  • RamDez
    Seahawks DE downplays matchup with former team
    by RamDez
    Seahawks DE downplays matchup with former team


    KIRKLAND, Wash. -- Grant Wistrom remembers the animosity on the field between NFC West rivals Seattle and St. Louis.

    Now, it's not so clear.

    Any free agent who switches teams within the same division knows what's coming twice a year: showdowns against former teammates and endless questions about how it's going to feel.

    That's the case this week for Wistrom, who spent his first six NFL seasons with the St. Louis Rams (2-2).

    "I think everybody is making a bigger deal about this than I am," said Wistrom, who ranks second on the Seahawks (3-0) with 2 1/2 sacks. "When the opening kickoff happens, you forget about all that stuff. It's just another football team."

    Oh, but there's a little extra invested for Wistrom this week.

    Not only is he facing his former teammates, but for the first time he'll line up against the potent Rams offense directed by his old coach, Mike Martz, a man he grew to know very well.

    Martz said Wistrom's departure had "a deep, deep emotional impact. He's like one of my family, like one of my kids."

    Wistrom's reasons for leaving were sound, Martz said. Wistrom received a $33 million contract that included a $14 million signing bonus, and Martz said he believes the star defender deserves that kind of money.

    "I don't look forward to playing him," Martz said. "I've watched him on tape and I think he's really playing very well."

    Wistrom went out of his way in recent years to stand up for Martz when he felt the coach was being unfairly maligned.

    "We were pretty tight," Wistrom said. "I really appreciate coach Martz. When he was catching a lot of heat, I always stood behind him. I told him that I believed in him as a coach, and I think he receives a lot of undue criticism."

    Another unusual experience for Wistrom will be matching up against five-time Pro Bowl tackle Orlando Pace. They routinely faced off in blocking drills, but Wistrom expects this to be different.

    "It's going to be a 60-minute battle," Wistrom said. "I practiced against him for six years, but Orlando's practice speed and his game speed are two different things. I'm going to have to work."

    There's one more twist.

    Wistrom was fined $5,000 by the NFL last season for flattening Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck during the Rams' 27-22 win in St. Louis. The next day, Hasselbeck called it "a great block."

    That's ancient history, though, because Hasselbeck understands Wistrom's full-throttle approach on the field. They're buddies now, and it's not unusual to see them trading good-natured barbs in the locker room.

    "He's just a good guy," Hasselbeck...
    -10-06-2004, 10:29 PM
  • MsWistRAM
    Grant Wistrom
    by MsWistRAM
    Grant Wistrom has been a favorite since the '99 season. I fell in love with him (not like that!) after he made that interception return for a touchdown that year. I love that stuff! He didn't get much of a chance to do that this past year. They didn't have him playing the same way and a couple of bad calls took opportunities away from him. But he's a solid defensive end who plays with a lot of heart. His' was the first name given by Howie Long for his Tough Guy(?)team. All analysts had nothing but good things to say about him. The Rams were smart in keeping him as an anchor for the new defense this year.

    Being a woman, people don't believe I'm genuinely a fan and not just a groupie. Sure, Grant's a hotty, but you don't look good to me unless you first play that well, and Grant does.
    -05-23-2001, 09:38 AM
  • MOM
    Wistrom on HS Coaching Staff
    by MOM
    Turns out the rumors were true.

    Parkview High School football coach Wes Beachler confirmed Monday that former St. Louis Rams defensive end Grant Wistrom will be an assistant coach at Parkview.

    Word first leaked that Wistrom, 30, was planning to coach at Parkview in a Seattle Post Intelligencer story last week, in which Wistrom hinted at his retirement from the NFL and the Seattle Seahawks.

    Chance Wistrom, the Parkview principal, is Grant Wistromís brother.

    Wistrom has played 10 years in the NFL at defensive end, six with the St. Louis Rams, with whom he won a Super Bowl in 1999. In college, Wistrom helped the University of Nebraska to three national championships. He played his high school football at Webb City.

    This was a breaking news story from the Springfield News-Leader at 3:00.
    -04-16-2007, 03:24 PM