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Wistrom's Address Changes, Effort Remains

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  • Wistrom's Address Changes, Effort Remains

    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 Dallas’ dynasty of the 1990s, is playing for Arizona. The sight of someone like Michael Jordan in a Washington Wizards’ uniform will forever haunt Bulls’ 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.

    “I always envied the old (football) Cardinals that I’d see around town, the guys that got to play there their whole career and got to retire there,” Wistrom said. “I always wanted to be one of those guys. I don’t think there could’ve been anything better, but obviously, the opportunity didn’t present itself."

    “I couldn’t imagine being in a better situation than I’m in right now. I’m playing for a great organization. I’m playing for a great football team, in a city that I’m really starting to like. It would have been nice to have stayed in St. Louis, but those things don’t always work out, so I couldn’t imagine being happier anywhere else.”

    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 wouldn’t 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 didn’t leave the Emerald City without putting pen to paper.

    The offer contained more numbers than Wistrom ever thought possible. He didn’t 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 Rams’ coach Mike Martz is quick to point out, Wistrom is well worth the money.

    “So many of these guys that get the money that Grant gets, they are pass rushers,” Martz said. “That’s how they see themselves, as a specialist. That’s not Grant. He’s the whole package, as we all know. He makes tackles, because he chases the ball down in the running game and, at the point of attack, he stacks them up. He knocks the pass-blocker back into the quarterback, he squeezes the pocket, or he gets a hand on the quarterback and disrupts the throw. He just doesn’t stop, he’s relentless and that’s something that is very evident when you watch him on defense.”

    It is all of those attributes that make Wistrom one of the key cogs in Seattle’s revamped defense. The impact has been swift and immediate. Not just because Wistrom has 2.5 sacks and 12 tackles in three games, but also because he provides the Seahawks with the kind of leadership and experience they have lacked in recent years. The effects of Wistrom on the line have propelled Seattle to the No. 1 ranking in the NFL in total defense. The Seahawks shut out San Francisco in week three, the first time the ***** have been shut since 1977.

    Seattle coach Mike Holmgren said Wistrom’s impact is felt on the field, but perhaps more importantly, in the locker room.

    “Acquiring Grant was a big thing for us,” Holmgren said. “He’s a good football player. We knew that when we played against him all of those years. But more than that, he brought an attitude and a work ethic up above his actual ability that was good for us.

    “We are very young on defense. So, to have guys that the young guys can look at, how they practice and how they play, that’s really important for us taking the next step defensively.”

    For Wistrom to take the next step in his career, he will have to overcome a few obstacles. Standing in his way Sunday is one extremely big roadblock in the form of left tackle Orlando Pace. Pace and Wistrom matched up every day in practice since Wistrom entered the league. By most accounts, Pace got the better of the younger Wistrom, but the defensive end’s relentless push started to even things toward the end of his time in St. Louis.

    Now, the two will square off in live action for the first time, with a lot on the line. Neither player allowed himself to be goaded into exchanging barbs, but they did express a mutual respect.

    “It’s going to be an all day battle,” Wistrom said. “I’ve gone against Orlando for six years in practice, but Orlando’s practice speed and his game speed are two different things. I’ve been watching film on him the past couple of days and “O,” I think, has gotten better each year. He looks as good as he ever has out there. So it’s definitely going to be a 60-minute battle.”

    Pace said he understands his challenge also.

    “It’s going to be a nice battle,” Pace said. “Grant knows me well, and I know him well, just from going against him for the past six years or so. So it should be a good matchup on Sunday. Grant’s one of those high energy, high motor guys. I know that going in and I’ll try to stay with him all game. He’s hard-nosed. I understand that about him and I just have to be ready.”

    Martz compares the upcoming battle to one that he saw when he came into the league with the Rams in Los Angeles. In those matchups, he watched linebacker Kevin Greene tangle with tackle Jackie Slater every day.
    No matter who wins that game within the game, the only win that is important at the end of the day is the win-loss column in the NFC West Division standings.

    With as much change as teams undergo in a normal offseason, one thing will probably never change and that is Wistrom’s approach to football.

    “No matter what anyone writes about me, or how much money I’m playing for, it doesn’t matter,” Wistrom said. “I’m going to go out there and play the game the way that I play the game, and that’s hard. Nobody else can put more pressure on me than I put on myself.”

Related Topics


  • 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, 09:29 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, 08:38 AM
  • RamDez
    Wistrom gets ready to face old team, and stand-in Bryce Fisher
    by RamDez
    Wistrom gets ready to face old team, and stand-in Bryce Fisher By Greg Bishop
    Seattle Times staff reporter

    KIRKLAND — 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 1½-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 — the Matt Hasselbecks and so forth," ESPN analyst Mark Schlereth...
    -10-07-2004, 11:19 AM
  • RamDez
    Grant Wistrom OUT
    by RamDez
    4 to 6 weeks with a broken knee .....................:upset:

    It happened to the Seahawks .......................

    But its Grant Wistrom ...................................:upset:
    -10-18-2004, 04:33 PM
  • ramavenger
    Wistrom hurt his back
    by ramavenger
    Posted: 01 Aug 2004 10:21 am

    Post subject: Wistrom placed on Hawks' physically unable to perform list


    Defensive end Wistrom placed on Hawks' physically unable to perform listl

    Mike Sando; The News Tribune

    A bad back kept Grant Wistrom off the field for the Seattle Seahawks' most recent minicamp. It now appears Wistrom will miss the start of training camp as well.

    The team's prized defensive end was among four players placed on the "physically unable to perform" list Saturday, indicating he failed a physical examination.
    -08-01-2004, 12:52 PM