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– Damien Wilson knew he made the right choice soon after Chiefs General Manager Brett Veach reached out to his agent.

“I planned this Super Bowl trip last spring,” said the former Gophers linebacker, who started in Kansas City’s 31-20 Super Bowl LIV victory over the 49ers on Sunday, making four tackles. “Seriously. I saw what this team did last year, almost winning the AFC championship. I jumped on it. I planned this in free agency.”

Wilson, a fourth-round draft pick of the Cowboys in 2015, started every game this season. After 22 starts in four seasons in Dallas, Wilson was one of the under-the-radar moves that got overshadowed by Veach’s big moves to overhaul Kansas City’s defense.

“I had some options after last year,” he said. “I could have gone to Cincinnati. I could have gone to Oakland. Or I could have even stayed in Dallas. But this was the ideal fit for me.”

As a two-down linebacker who occasionally gets worked into third-down packages, Wilson fit the team’s new scheme under new defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo.

Former Gophers middle linebacker Damien Wilson celebrated a tackle against San Jose State in 2014.
Former Gophers middle linebacker Damien Wilson celebrated a tackle against San Jose State in 2014.

Elizabeth Flores

“I admire coach Spags so much,” Wilson said. “I remember the first couple of games, we weren’t so hot on defense and people were calling for his head. He never blinked. He never wavered. He just said the things he always says. ‘Keep on doing the fundamentals right and we will get the results that we want and get to where we went.’ The Super Bowl.”

Wilson also liked this season because he got to talk trash with teammate and former Louisiana State star defensive back Tyrann Mathieu.

“I don’t even care how the year ended with the losses, the Gophers made me so proud this year,” Wilson said. “Just to be able to brag on them to the rest of my teammates. When they were 9-0 and LSU was 9-0, I just kept messing with the ‘Honey Badger,’ telling him, ‘Hey, you better watch out for my Gophers, baby.’ ”