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Former NFL quarterback Marc Wilson speaks to the West Fargo freshman football team last week. Special to the Pioneer

Ex-NFL quarterback tells WF team it’s all about having fun

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Rain was gently falling Thursday when the West Fargo freshman football team gathered in the center of the practice field to await the arrival of a very special guest.

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Marc Wilson was on his way to talk business with the team, but it wasn’t his job as founder and executive managing director of Q Sciences that he was here to talk about. It was his time spent as a professional athlete.

Wilson played in the National Football League for 10 years and was drafted 15th overall in the 1980 draft by the Oakland Raiders. He was a Raider for eight years before spending his last two season with the New England Patriots.

Having played alongside and against some of the greatest names to ever play the game, Wilson had plenty of stories to tell. But reminiscing about the past wasn’t on his agenda, although the smell of the fresh-cut grass brought back memories of playing high school ball. He was here to convey one simple message to the team: Have fun while you can.

“The big thing I want this group to take is that this really is about fun,” said Wilson, who has won two Super Bowls with the Raiders organization. “What’s important today is you have a great time with your buddies out here playing football, and that is what will be important tomorrow and the next day.”

Having fun and enjoying the game is something Brent Lundgren stresses as head coach of the freshman team, so having another prominent figure reinforce that idea sat well with him. He also agreed with Wilson when he stressed how much of an impact seeing a real live person who has accomplished the goals that many young football players have today.

“He talked about the same stuff we do, and that’s to have fun and enjoy this. It’s not going to last forever,” said Lundgren, who reached out to Wilson and asked if he’d be willing to talk with his team. “Hearing it from another person and a person of Marc’s caliber, I think, gives them a little sense of pride and boosts their self-esteem, and I think any time you can build someone’s self-esteem you should try to do it.”

Players admitted they had no clue who Wilson was until they found out he was quarterback during the 1987 Monday Night Football game against the Seattle Seahawks and handed Bo Jackson the ball when he ran 91 yards for a touchdown and straight into the tunnel leading to the depths of the late Kingdome. Once they heard this, their eyes quickly perked up, especially quarterback Andy Gravdahl, who also took Wilson’s message to heart, but admits it’s more difficult said than done.”

“I didn’t know who he was at first, but when I heard Bo Jackson’s name, I thought that was pretty awesome,” said. Gravdahl, referring to a story Wilson told about the legendary running back. “I want to have fun, but I can never have fun in this game. I want to go as hard as I can until I’m on the sideline. It’s hard to have fun when you’re in the game; you’re thinking too hard.”

Lundgren became acquainted with Wilson when Lundgren’s sister, who happens to work for Q Sciences, asked him to pick up Wilson from the airport. Lundgren agreed, and knowing about Wilson’s football past he decided to show him around the Fargodome. The chance meeting developed into a friendship, and when Lundgren caught wind of Wilson returning to Fargo for business, he thought of the perfect way to boost his team’s self-esteem.

“We walked around and went in the locker room and went upstairs and met all the coaches and stuff like that, so we kind of developed a relationship,” Lundgren said. “He was coming out here again this year, and I asked if he’d like to talk to our kids, and he said he’d love to.”

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