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Was the Russell Wilson visit worth it?

3/4/2014

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Now that the media throng has departed in search of another story to cover, some of you have emailed and tweeted wondering if Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson's visit was worth it.

That question, of course, has two sides. Was it worth it to Wilson? Was it worth it to the Texas Rangers?

The answer to both, in my opinion, is yes. Let me explain:

First, there's no question the Rangers got publicity out of the deal. They paid $12,000 to draft Wilson, and the amount of media coverage from stories to photos to B-roll of Wilson wearing a Rangers jersey was priceless.

But that's not how the club got a huge return on its investment. This was no publicity stunt.

Talk to the Rangers’ front office and players and it's clear Wilson wasn't here to smile at the cameras and drum up some free press for Texas. He was treated as one of the guys and, in return, acted like one.

Wilson was not seeking out the star players or the big names he's seen on television. His first lengthy interaction at the ballpark on Monday was with two players who, frankly, are extreme long shots to make this roster. (You can read more about that here). But for those two young players, it was 10 minutes of knowledge they admit they'll apply to what they're doing in preparing for workouts and games.

Wilson's news conference was a window into what he was likely saying on Sunday night, as he talked for 20 minutes to a group of 300 or so of the Rangers' personnel about why he's successful. His favorite line is "preparation is separation," and everything he does is based on that.

"For me, my goal is to be great -- to be the best that’s ever played the game -- and to do that I have to have my mind on the right things, and I have to make sure that I work harder than everybody else," Wilson said. "That’s why I always say there’s no time to sleep. I try to get up. It’s a competition for me. I try to make sure that I get up earlier than Tom Brady and Drew Brees -- and they’re on the East Coast."

All he has to do is reach one player or alter one prospect's thinking for the better and the decision to bring him to Arizona was worth it.

So was it worth it to Wilson?

He certainly thought so. This was a two-way street. He wanted to get something out of traveling to Arizona and working with the Rangers, too.

"I’m still learning," Wilson said. "I’m only 25 years old. I just turned 25 not too long ago, so I’m trying to learn as much as I can. I’m on that constant quest for knowledge."

Wilson said he learned some things while in camp and that he'll apply them to what he's doing as a quarterback in the NFL. That's a smart move on his part.

Yes, Wilson at spring training meant it was an unusual day, including a full press box and a rare news conference in a center-field meeting room. But it was also a valuable learning experience for the Rangers and fun for everyone involved, too. And there's nothing wrong with that to break up the monotony of spring training.