By Austin Bogues, firstname.lastname@example.org
6:50 PM EST, February 3, 2014
HAMPTON — April Woodard was a little hoarse on Monday and sleep-deprived. The Hampton University journalism professor was in a great mood, though.
Her nephew, NFL quarterback Russell Wilson, led the Seattle Seahawks to victory over the Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl game Sunday, capping off the season with one of the most dominant wins in league history.
Woodard, a former correspondent for the nationally televised newsmagazine "Inside Edition," watched the game from home with her husband, children and parents in Chesapeake. "I was awfully calm for somebody as high-strung and excitable as myself," she said. Woodard paused for a second to reconsider. "Yeah, I did do a lot of screaming," she said.
She was nervous for most of the day until things started going the Seahawks' way early in the first quarter.
Last Monday, Woodard did a special interview with Wilson for "Inside Edition" as Super Bowl week kicked off. "He was just like, 'We're going to win this,' " Woodard said.
"As an aunt you're not going to tell him, 'Really? It's Peyton Manning' — I mean I know they beat them before in the preseason," she said. "But this is the Super Bowl."
She had looked at all the stat lines. All the times Manning had led teams back from behind. Woodard and her family wouldn't believe it was over as the Seahawks piled on points and they began to receive tweets and text messages from friends saying, "You've got this."
"It was surreal to sit there," Woodard said. Wilson's grandfather, Harrison B. Wilson Jr., served as president of Norfolk State University for 22 years.
"It's like a movie," the elder Wilson told Woodard on Sunday night.
She said her nephew, while growing up, enjoyed attending football games at the university and watching the school's band play.
"Every time I see Russell, he reminds me of his dad," Woodard said, referring to the late Harrison B. Wilson III, who died in 2010.
"At one point he had this expression last night when he was saying something on TV, and I said, 'It's Harry. It's Harry!' she said.
Woodard helped coach Wilson to speak with the media, and she stayed up late Sunday to watch how he did with his interviews.
At 5 feet, 11 inches, Wilson is one of the shorter quarterbacks in the league, and he has at times been counted out because of his size. Woodard said she told her students on Monday they can learn from his example to overcome any challenges they may face.
"I just really think he's showing the sky is the limit. Do not let anybody tell you that you can't. It's kind of cliché to say that, but it is still happening right now.
"You have to be your child's advocate to let them know they can. To let them know that no one can tell you you can't do anything, as long as you're willing to work hard," she said. She credits Russell Wilson's work ethic.
"Russell was there early, and he was the last one to leave," she said.
Bogues can be reached by phone at 757-247-4536.
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