Seattle Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner (54) during the first half...

Seattle Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner (54) during the first half of an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Sunday, Jan. 8, 2024, in Glendale, Ariz. The Washington Commanders are making a big splash in free agency by signing Wagner. The six-time All-Pro linebacker agreed to terms on a one-year contract worth up to $8.5 million in guaranteed money, a person familiar with the deal tells The Associated Press. Credit: AP/Rick Scuteri

Bobby Wagner did not consider retiring from football on the verge of his 34th birthday. It was the pull of playing for Dan Quinn and Ken Norton Jr. that drew him to leave the Seattle Seahawks and sign with the Washington Commanders.

But something outside of football also tipped the scales toward Washington.

Wagner is getting a Master of Business Administration degree from Howard University in the District of Columbia, an 18-month course he started in January with an eye on expanding his horizons beyond football.

“It was going to be online,” Wagner said Friday, “but I think that might have changed a little bit.”

The six-time All-Pro linebacker chose Howard because of his work with historically Black colleges and universities and the school's business expertise.

“Similarly with football, you always want to try to find ways to perfect your craft, so I felt like this was an opportunity for me to do that off the field,” Wagner said. “I just looked at Howard as a great school to learn business from. It’s one of the best in the country, and why wouldn’t I choose them?”

Wagner chose the Commanders for his day job, signing a one-year contract worth up to $8.5 million with $6 million in guaranteed money. He becomes the centerpiece of a rebuilt defense fashioned by new general manager Adam Peters for Quinn, who coached Wagner for two years as an assistant with Seattle when they won a Super Bowl together.

On the same day former Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald announced he was retiring, Wagner brushed off the thought of doing the same. He intended to trust the process, knowing that, while he's past his prime, he still takes care of his body with yoga and physical therapy and is still fired up to play the game.

“What keeps me motivated is just wanting to be great and wanting to do it for a long time,” Wagner said. “Watching guys like LeBron and people that’s been able to do it at a high level for a long time, I think that’s what keeps me going.”

At this stage, Wagner is a role model for that himself. New teammate and fellow linebacker Anthony Pittman, slightly younger at 27, said he has looked up to Wagner and studied his play for a long time.

“Not to make him sound because he’s still playing at a high level, but I’m excited to just learn from him and take whatever I can from it,” Pittman said Thursday. “Just observe and study.”

The same goes for Frankie Luvu, another linebacker the Commanders signed to replenish the position. Wagner and Luvu have worked out together before and figure to be starting together in Washington.

“He’s the epitome of a linebacker," Luvu said. “He does it all: student of the game, how he goes about his ways, the habits, watching film. To have him in the building and to work with him is a blessing."

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