K.J. Wright: Wagner is league's best LB right now

NFL Media's Oklahoma Drill series presents exclusive, quick-hitting one-on-one interviews with players and coaches from around the league. No nonsense -- just football experiences directly from the source.

K.J. Wright

Linebacker, Seattle Seahawks

Born: July 23, 1989

Experience: Eighth NFL season

Interview by Brooke Cersosimo | December 12, 2018

Being a [Walter Payton Man of Year Award] candidate means a lot to me, and it's something I've been striving for since my rookie year. Once I found out about it, I always wanted to be that guy, a leader on this team, show the younger guys that they need to go out in the community and give back and make the world a better place. It was a real surprise when they told me.

I just want to be all over the place. There are so many people out there who need help, and so many organizations that could use K.J. and other guys to come in and help them out. I just want to help wherever I can, so whatever I can do to make the world a better place, I'm going to do it.

I visited Kenya, and I'm going to build a well in a community. I've been raising funds throughout the year, and when I go back, that'll be my favorite.

It's really important for [players with this platform] to give back to their communities. It's great for kids to see [the work], for your peers to see it, for adults to see it. When people see what you do, I think it makes other people want to help and spread love and happiness. It's just you doing your part.

My perspective has changed. I took a lot of things for granted. Visiting the world and seeing people who don't have the basic necessities that I have -- homes, food, clean water, clothes -- I started to appreciate things I didn't in the past.

I've been battling [a knee injury all season]. I got hurt in the preseason. Came back, had a setback. Came back and played in some games and had another setback. Coming back again now, I definitely wanna play this season and in the playoffs. But I'm still taking it one day at a time. I just want to be out there with my guys, 'cause they're having a lot of fun out there. I just want to join the party.

It's feeling better, and there are three games left. I don't know which one it'll be, but [I'll be back on the field] in one of them. So, if everything goes good [with my knee], I will be playing in the regular season.

Being out for this time has been pretty hard. There's good days and some bad days. People around me have really kept me uplifted, telling me to stay positive. ... It's not fun. I definitely had to grow with this time, because adversity teaches you a lot. I grew spiritually and mentally through this process.

[Teammate Bobby Wagner] is having multiple years where he's being one of the best. I think he's the best linebacker right now. He puts in a lot of work throughout the week, and he's earned the right to shine on Sundays and Mondays. He's been a good leader for the team.

Both [the old and new Seahawks defenses] are really good. The first time our defense was good [during the "Legion of Boom" years], we had a few more vets than we do now, and there was a lot of depth.

I think [Pete Carroll] has evolved [since I got to Seattle in 2011]. He's still on the positive side, but he holds guys more accountable now. He does a tremendous job and has always been a really good coach. He's always in the playoffs, been to two Super Bowls, so he's a good coach.

He brings the energy. He's always having fun, preparing hard, energetic, taking care of the players throughout the week. You'll win football games that way. He does a good job at taking care of us physically and brings the energy every day, so we have no choice but to respond.

I believe this is a hungry [defense]. We still have a few guys who were on that Super Bowl team and guys that know how to win. It's just fun watching this team grow. I don't think anyone believed we would be here at the beginning of the season, but we've been having fun. We just have to finish these last few games.

Awwww, no. [Former teammate and current 49ers CB Richard Sherman] didn't say [the Seahawks are "middle of the road"]. Whatever he said, I still have love for Sherm. It was hard to see him leave. He was one of my favorite teammates and guys in the building. If that's how he feels, that's how he feels. It's his opinion, but our defense has put up good numbers and our team is a playoff team. It's all good.

It's a great environment here. [Former first-round draft pick Barkevious] Mingo is in my linebacker room. He's around two vets and excellent coaches. I believe that anyone who comes in to the linebacker room can feed off of us and pick our brains and become a really good player. It's fun to see Mingo have success here.

[Defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr.] is the man. He's the best in the business, a tremendous motivator, great at game-planning and he's a linebacker guy. It's fun to have a linebacker coach as a D-coordinator, and I'm glad to see him have success in his first year.

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