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On John Schneider’s ‘culture’ comment

One line from John Schneider’s press conference has really given the head coach conversation a spin it didn’t need to be given.

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Super Bowl XLVIII - Seattle Seahawks v Denver Broncos Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The Seattle Seahawks are looking for a new coach, and we might not have heard the word “culture” this much since they were doing initial testing on Covid-19.

Leadership this, create culture that, Mike Salk keeps saying “juice.”

What a time to be alive.

Lost in the conversation though, is what John Schneider might not have meant when he said his mission from on high is to preserve “our culture.”

Much has been made about this line.

So much, in fact, that the conversation for one week now has been about who is a great leader of men, and who is best able to create that type of culture here, and so on.

The problem is, John Schneider didn’t mean what many seem to think he meant. I’m not even convinced he meant exactly what he said. There’s no animosity or accusation here; that was the guy’s first media appearance after having to part ways with one of his closest friends. He had a lot to say and plenty of emotion with which to say it.

But my main point is this: John Schneider did not mean to imply that they are looking for someone who will create a culture identical to Pete Carroll, nor did he mean to imply that such a thing is even the right goal.

The defining feature of Pete Carroll was his unique leadership style and capability to create a specifically different culture (atmosphere, mental state, team bond) than his peers over a couple of decades.

In fact, the most common debate amongst 12s in regards to Carroll’s tenure was whether he was a phenomenal enough leader to overcome the fact that the man literally cannot use a timeout or challenge correctly.

In fact yet again, it feels clear that the final decision was that in his 14th season, Carroll’s strength as a maker of healthy environments and winning attitudes no longer outweighed some of the performance weaknesses of the past six years.

There will never be another Pete Carroll.

Nevertheless, Schneider’s comments have left the media in a bit of a tailspin. Too much energy has been spent chasing something that will not come to fruition.

Here are a couple lines comparing Dan Quinn and Pete Carroll from Sports Illustrated:

Now that the time is here—Carroll is stepping away from the head coaching seat at age 72 after 14 years—the Seahawks have to not only consider the continuation of the culture that they’ve installed and maintained, but what the NFC West has become.

Culture obviously matters more, and Quinn is a force of good vibes everywhere he goes. He is the only person who could possibly rival Carroll’s endless font of positivity. But as he’s sharpened his candidacy in Dallas, we sometimes forget that his offenses struggled in Atlanta.

What are we doing here?

The unequivocal number one best thing of Coach Pete Carroll was how adept he was at leading, motivating, instilling optimism, mitigating conflict, or in many words, creating culture. Nobody has ever done it like Pete. Not in this city. And the Seahawks... “have to continue the culture”?

Unintentionally, the conversation has backed itself into a corner that Schneider didn’t intend and doesn’t make sense anyway.

We will not find somebody who does it like Pete.

If that were the objective....

I know an unemployed guy who could take up the challenge.

His name is Pete.

You just used a lot words, what’s the point?

Let’s piece together what Schneider might have meant by what he said.

A) They cannot recreate Pete Carroll’s culture, nor will they try to;

B) Perhaps it’s winning? Some people think winning is a culture, or as has been said about the Detroit Lions, losing is a culture. I disagree. Far too many people change over who have no memory of such a thing. Winning or losing can be a legacy or a heritage, but not a culture per se. One does not put on a New England Patriots jersey and gain any powers that will guide them through a 17-game season and into the playoffs.

Schneider could have indicated wanting to continue the winning ways of Seattle. I’ll leave that door open, as unfounded as it is.

Instead, my personal belief is Schneider was simply doing Option (C), and we’ve made a big deal about nothing. This was as simple as a nod, not to the best X’s and O’s guy in the NFL, but possibly the best motivator.

And if not that, he certainly was the best relationship-builder. I’ll plant my flag on the hill that nobody’s got the relational capacity of Carroll, which has now resulted in over 20 years of players still connected to him and appreciative of his authenticity.

In fact, I wrote about this four years ago.

That’s all. There’s no real agenda here. All this is just to say, John Schneider’s not out there looking for more Pete Carroll culture. He knows he won’t find it.

I’m excited as ever to see who will take the podium next.