There is nobody in the NFL like Pete Carroll.
The Seattle Seahawks have a special culture, a unique environment, a “secret sauce” of sorts, and it stems from the goofy energy of the guy who got so excited about a 12-yard quarterback scramble that he danced into a sideline official against the New York Giants.
Pete knows football, and he knows people. He’s not a Hall of Fame caliber coach by accident.
But the truly unparalleled element of Coach Carroll is on display once again this season. Actually not once, not twice, but around a half dozen times.
Pete Carroll has nearly the entire Legion of Boom - most of the best defensive players he’s ever coached - lending their knowledge and experience to the cause of the Seahawks. Some of them even do it for free.
When Seattle announced they were bringing back Bruce Irvin, it was simply another link in the ridiculously long chain of former players that connect Carroll to his current roster. The fact that Irvin is (A) 35 years old, (B) playing over 70% of snaps already, and (C) did this:
...is a completely unexpected bonus to the other reasons he’s here. Frankly I still can’t believe he did that, and has a cool opportunity to be the most effective former player to ever return to Seattle, which is exciting.
But remember the rest of the list.
- Deshawn Shead is currently a DB coach with the team.
- KJ Wright was given a retirement celebration for the ages, is now part of Seattle Sports radio, and frequently present at game day and around facilities.
- Kam Chancellor has personally coached several members of the backfield, like Josh Jones and Ryan Neal.
- Richard Sherman is not at all at odds with Pete Carroll, and has advised both rookie cornerbacks and even had several defensive conversations with Carroll.
There are others, as well. Many might not know that former Seahawks fullback Will Tukuafu is an assistant coach with the defense as well. Aaron Curry only overlapped for two seasons with Carroll, but he’s the assistant defensive line coach now.
Doug Baldwin, Cliff Avril, and Jermaine Kearse were all present at training camp this past summer.
Now that the Russell Wilson era has taken the turn that it has, the biggest revelation is that the reputations and perceptions of Carroll and Wilson were not inextricably tied together. Wilson does not seem to have friends with the former Seahawks. Coach Carroll has maintained an incredibly strong line of openness with many of his guys.
But it doesn’t even stop there. Carroll truly believes in his players, sure, but it’s also part of his nature to be humble and embrace insight and greatness from a variety of sources. GM John Schneider has helped him lean into this.
The Adrian Peterson saga serves as a good example. So does the Dwight Freeney signing - a blip in the Seattle radar - although I’m not sure if that’s a good example or a bad one.
But Peterson in particular, embodied this interesting thing Carroll seems to like to do in having these player-coaches. Marshawn Lynch’s second go with the team was likewise. Carroll is so consistent to let players be who they are, that he’s even consistently brought in legends simply to let them be...legendary, to the younger athletes. Rashaad Penny might never have made his turnaround without Peterson’s insight.
We could seriously keep going:
- Al Woods played under Carroll in 2011
- Quinton Jefferson has come back three times
Guys want to play for Carroll. And Carroll has been so true to who he is, that it’s opened a door most NFL teams will rarely see. Decades of experience, leadership, buy-in, gratitude, sportsmanship, knowledge, and impact have benefited this team in ways that other franchises won’t know.
For this particular season, we’ve got a slew of guys off the field, and we’ve got Bruce on it. Here’s his answer to why he ultimately came back.
It remains a special place. I’d say it more than makes up for Pete’s inability to correctly call a timeout. Nobody else gets this out of 11 years of players. Nobody.