SEATTLE -- If you want to understand why Russell Wilson might go down as the most important player in the history of the Seattle Seahawks, maybe even the most important athlete to ever ply his trade in the Pacific Northwest, you can't begin with football.
It's better to start with a story of a beautiful five-pound boy, and his imperfect, broken heart.
In the months leading up to the birth of his twin sons, Seattle salesman Dave Quick daydreamed about sports the way so many young, first-time fathers do. When he closed his eyes, he could see the three of them, years from now, laughing and roughhousing in the yard. He imagined teaching the boys how to catch footballs, how to turn double plays, how to shrug it off when you skinned your knee. His parental anxieties were overwhelmed by the dual joys of anticipation and excitement.
Reality, however, is almost always more complicated than daydreams. In a series of sonograms late in his wife Kristina's pregnancy, doctors spotted a few abnormalities they said "concerned them." One of the boys -- the Quicks would name them Harrison and Franklin -- had a heart that wasn't developing properly. Sonograms, they warned the Quicks, can be part science, part guesswork, so it was difficult to say what it might mean when they were born. Doctors urged Dave and Kristina to focus on the positive, not the unknown.
But when the boys were born at Evergreen Hospital in the early morning hours of Oct. 30, the truth was obvious: Harrison was healthy, but Franklin needed to be moved, right away, to the ICU of Seattle Children's Hospital. His condition was worse than doctors initially feared. In addition to problems with his heart, his intestines hadn't properly developed. There was a chance the condition could be fatal.
The next week unfolded for the Quicks as a stress-induced, semi-sleepless blur. Surgeons went to work fixing Franklin's intestines, and sketched out a plan for how to fix his heart. Dave Quick learned to sleep, rarely for more than 10 minutes at a time, sitting in a chair next to Franklin's bed. Nurses would shuffle in and out of the room at all hours, and soon Quick lost track of where days began and nights ended. At one point, one of the nurses noticed Franklin wasn't breathing, and an army of medical personnel swarmed into the room to snake a tube down his tiny throat and bring him back to life. "I basically lost my mind," Quick says. "I went into the hallway and I more or less crumbled."
Franklin survived, and he survived a 10-hour open-heart surgery several days later, but he wasn't out of danger. The weeks and months to come would be critical. A few days later, Quick was half asleep next to his son when a stranger walked into the room. For a moment, Quick wasn't sure if he was dreaming or imagining things. But then the stranger, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, did something the Quicks will never forget.
He hugged them.
He told the Quicks he and his wife, Ashton, had heard about Franklin, and they'd been thinking about him a lot. They'd been praying for him every day. They just wanted to stop by and let the Quicks know they were pulling for Franklin.