It wasn’t supposed to work.
Like so many others, I wasn’t a believer of Pete Carroll when it was announced that he would be the next head coach of the Seattle Seahawks back in 2010. He was that “rah-rah” college coach who already failed in the NFL, and it seemed that every report I read from so-called experts painted a picture of disaster for my favorite franchise. Basically, no one believed it would work.
Ironically, belief is at the core of who Pete Carroll is as we would all come to find out.
It didn’t take me long to come around to coach Carroll. Really, I bought in after the first press conference. That was one of Pete’s greatest strengths, to instill confidence in those around him and allow them to realize their full potential. Always Compete. Hell, he wrote a book called Win Forever.
I read that book a few years into his tenure with Seattle. At the time, I was helping to coach my former high school baseball team. Pete’s vision and philosophies made so much sense to me, and I adapted many of them into my own coaching. We won more often than not and – to borrow a Carrollism – “enjoyed the heck out of it.”
Pete was revolutionary in so many ways and has enduring fingerprints across the NFL. All of those training camp videos from around the league with music blaring and players dancing? Carroll was one of, if not the first, to do things like that. He was a pioneer.
Coach Carroll never showed his age. He wasn’t some stodgy, old curmudgeon who ruled with an iron fist. Pete cared deeply for his players and wanted them to express themselves. That translated well if the outpouring of support from former players didn’t make that obvious enough.
Don’t mistake Carroll’s kindness for weakness, however, as he could be ruthless if a player didn’t mesh with his philosophies. Just ask TJ Houshmandzadeh or LenDale White.
Carroll was the ultimate dichotomy. Here was this effervescent “player’s coach” who deep down, wanted the most badass team imaginable. Pete’s paradigm was a suffocating defense with an offense that could run the ball down your throat even when you knew it was coming with a dangerous, explosive pass game mixed in. That was exactly what he built during the early to mid 2010s.
Pete Carroll's Seahawks once had a run of 98(!) straight games where they had a lead or were within one score in the 4th quarter.— Sheil Kapadia (@SheilKapadia) January 10, 2024
Winning record in 11 of 14 seasons. Regardless of circumstance, got players to believe something good was just around the corner. All-time run.
Personally, I related deeply to that style. It’s exactly the type of ball that I enjoy watching. And I wasn’t alone. Pete helped bring the Seahawks into national prominence and suddenly that team from North Alaska was cool.
It wasn’t just in the Pacific Northwest. If you’ve been reading my work, you might already be familiar, but I live in Wisconsin where’s it’s all Cheeseheads all the time. Prior to the Pete Carroll Era, the only time I would see anyone repping the Seahawks was if I looked in the mirror. That’s not hyperbole, I honestly can’t remember seeing anyone else sporting Seattle garb when I was growing up, even when Holmgren took them to the Super Bowl in 2005.
That changed with the LOB. It wasn’t uncommon for me to see a Seahawks hat out an about during that time. Pete’s team set the standard. In the blink of an eye, teams were after his coaches and wanted to run his Cover 3 defense. Tall corners with long arms were getting drafted rounds higher than before because everyone wanted their own Richard Sherman.
Just look at what the Denver Broncos did after Seattle destroyed their vaunted offense in Super Bowl XLVIII. They went hard on defense and won a title two years later largely on the back of a dominant defense.
Pete’s Seahawks influenced that.
Now, his time as head coach has come to an end after 14 years. Honestly, it hit me a little harder than I expected but maybe I should have anticipated it. Like any relationship, 14 years is a very long time and it’s never easy to see it end. I never had any personal interactions with Pete, yet I feel as if I knew him. Judging by all of the stories shared after his press conference, I actually did.
My Pete Carroll story.— Under Zone X (Frisco) (@mattyfbrown) January 10, 2024
Thank you coach. pic.twitter.com/MRPBMLKrRK
Pete was the same guy behind closed doors as he was behind the podium. A man who cared deeply about others, filled them with confidence, and had their back. Rule No. 1 in his program was “Protect the Team.” Pete Carroll did just that until the very end including in his final press conference.
So, I want to give a final thank you to Pete Carroll for giving us such special memories of our favorite team. He brought the first Super Bowl to the Seattle Seahawks, instilling a winning culture into the entire program. I’m grateful to have been along for the ride.
A legacy that will never be forgotten. pic.twitter.com/dwOGJVyPtz— Seattle Seahawks (@Seahawks) January 11, 2024
Thank you and good luck, Pete. I know whatever comes your way, you’ll always be competing.