The Arizona Cardinals Ring of Honor is getting its newest inductee.
Former safety Adrian Wilson, who played for the Cardinals from 2001 to 2012, will become the 15th member of the franchise’s exclusive club when he’s inducted at halftime of Sunday’s game against San Francisco at University of Phoenix Stadium.
Wilson doesn’t think this is an individual achievement. He credits the many people in his life that help shape him to make the honor possible.
“A lot of people had a part in the development of me as a person and a player,” Wilson told Doug and Wolf Thursday on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM. “This award speaks volumes about the people that helped me along the way.”
Wilson hasn’t played an NFL game in three years, and has officially retired as a Cardinal. But that doesn’t mean he still doesn’t have the sport coarsing through his veins.
“I still miss the violence,” he said with a laugh. “I can’t lie about that. I still miss the violence. Obviously, being out there at practice every day and seeing those guys prepare, you know, just keeping your mind sharp and keeping your mind focused on the things you need to focus on leading up to a game — I think I miss that more than anything else.”
During his career, few players in the NFL cut a more intimidating figure on the field. That will not be the case Sunday, as he expects to be overwhelmed by the moment and the honored bestowed upon him.
“I’m definitely going to cry. It was a few years ago when I wasn’t in touch with my emotional side, so to be able to break out of that shell and show your emotions and just be thankful for everything that you’ve been through and everything you’ve accomplished in your career — those things are emotional, and there’s no need to hide that,” Wilson said.
Wilson was released by the Cardinals in March of 2013. He would sign with the New England Patriots, but spent the season on injured reserve before getting cut. In 2014, he landed in Chicago with the Bears, but was released during training camp, meaning he never played in a regular-season game wearing another uniform.
When Wilson was drafted in the third round out of North Carolina State, the Cardinals were far from a model franchise. In fact, they were coming off a wretched 3-13 season in 2000. But Wilson became one of the key figures in turning around a long suffering team and his presence was a big factor in the Cardinals winning an NFC championship and playing in their first Super Bowl in 2009. He’s proud of being a factor in that organizational turnaround.
“That sticks out to me — we turned the corner as a franchise in terms of how people look at us,” he said. “I think, more so than anything, perception is reality.”
There could be more honors in the future for Wilson, namely the Pro Football Hall of Fame. After all, Wilson is one of only six players in NFL history with 25 interceptions and 25 quarterback sacks in his career. While he’s hopeful to get that Canton call some day, he’s not necessarily expecting it.
“I think my numbers are very comparable to a lot of the guys that are going into the Hall of Fame,” he said. “I think the only thing that I don’t have is obviously the Super Bowl championships and the team success. That’s some of the things that the voters look at.”
There haven’t been a lot of safeties honored in Canton. In fact, the last two — Rod Woodson in 2009 and Ronnie Lott in 2000 — spent good portions of their careers playing cornerback.
“If it happens, it happens,” he said. “Sunday, I think that’s my Hall of Fame, the Ring of Honor. So, I’m going to take that and be very happy and grateful for it.”
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