BY Art Thiel 06:03PM 02/04/2015

Thiel: Double KO is harsh about Seahawks’ future

Based on sports history, ESPN’s Keith Olbermann claims the Seahawks’ only hope is to blow up everything. Unlikely. But there is a productive way to start 2015: Own the mistake.

In case Pete Carroll needs more humor in his life . . .

Russell Wilson said something Tuesday to reporters on getaway day at Seahawks headquarters that, for him, sounded perfectly natural and innocuous. Until I thought about it.

“The part I hate,” he said,  “is that I have to wait seven months to play another game. So I think that’s where my focus is on — what we can do to prepare for that opportunity again.’’

It reminded me of what coach Pete Carroll said shortly after the 28-24 loss to the Patriots that ripped a hole in his carefully constructed “win forever” approach to group motivation.

“I hate it that we have to live with that,” he said.

What struck me is that Carroll and Wilson almost never use “hate” as a term describing their emotions. Hate is certainly a perfectly understandable expression in the hours and early days after the worst sports moment of their professional lives over which they had control.

In the context of searing drama, it’s easy to read into the anger more than is there. But in this case, anger is going to be hard to subdue, given all the abuse directed at the Seahawks’ play call that will live one day past forever. The issue now looms larger for the Seahawks than the pending contract extension for Wilson and, potentially, Marshawn Lynch.

Far be it from me to tell a master of motivation such as Carroll how to manage his team’s psychology in what will be the most demanding year of his professional life.

I’ll let Keith Olbermann do it.

ESPN’s commentator/comedian unleashed consecutive tirades against the Seahawks. The first one Monday insisted that the nature of the defeat was so profound that the only choice for the Seahawks to get beyond it was to blow up everything.

The theatrics of the studio walkout were mildly amusing, but the point about the potential for franchise disarray that follows self-destruction at the pinnacle was spot on. As Wilson intimated, the urgency to make immediate amends is strong. But for seven months, there is nothing but the void.

What Olbermann left out was the details of the dubious history of franchises who get consumed by the fires of redemption. He made up for it on Tuesday:

There are some quibbles with parts of Olbermann’s selective history, and in this case I don’t agree with his conclusion about blowing up the franchise and starting fresh. That’s  because the Seahawks are not an aging team that had its last shot Sunday, and because the key relationships — from owner Paul Allen to GM John Schneider to Carroll to Wilson — likely will remain intact through the firestorm of mockery.

But I wrote Tuesday about pending trouble to which Olbermann referred: Every personnel move, public utterance and strategic maneuver will be seen through the prism of one bad play, however illogical that seems.

That’s where Carroll must develop a workaround.

There’s no question the Seahawks will have to deal with two tangible matters for which they have little experience:

  • Building a Super Bowl-level roster with a big portion of the salary cap going to one player, Wilson;
  • Stars beginning to feel the literal pain of an NFL career.

Going through the mail after returning from Phoenix, I saw the Sports Illustrated cover of the Legion of Boom. Talk about a jinx.

Of the five players pictured, four were unhealthy at game’s end. The healthy guy, CB Byron Maxwell, is a pending free agent.

For sure, CB Richard Sherman (elbow) and Jeremy Lane (broken arm) will have surgery. FS Earl Thomas (shoulder labrum) might. And the mystery of SS Kam Chancellor’s knee injured in Friday’s practice ended Wednesday when he told the team’s website,, that he played with a torn medial collateral ligament in his left knee, along with a bone bruise.

After the game, I asked Chancellor how much the knee limited him.

“Injuries,” he said, “are part of the game.”

I tried again. Were you having trouble?

“Injuries,” he said, glaring at me, “are part of the game.”

So now we know. Something tells me New England’s Bill Belichick and QB Tom Brady had a pretty good idea by the fourth quarter.

Best-case scenario is that all return healthy by September. But when the length of the past two seasons is figured in with the standard wear-and-tear on high-motor veterans in the middle of their careers, it’s not a great leap to imagine the peak period for this group might have passed Sunday in Glendale.

Presuming good health and knowing their characters, the Legion will return seething, as will Wilson, Carroll and many of the Seahawks who are retained. But that is always the case for the all the near-championship teams who failed in the crucible. As Olbermann pointed out, only the late-1980s Edmonton Oilers of the NHL survived loss and the trade of Wayne Gretzky to maintain a championship edge.

Carroll will have to devise an approach that turns the rage into a patient rebuild of trust in him and Wilson that stays away from perpetual replay of the Travail in Glendale (or as one site commenter offered in a Boston accent, The Bonah in Arizonah).

I offer one small suggestion, this from the experience of another figure who spit up in the Super Bowl: Referee Bill Leavy. He was the notorious official whose calls crippled the Seahawks in their first Super Bowl, XL in Detroit, a 21-10 loss to Pittsburgh.

“It was a tough thing for me,” he said. “I kicked two calls in the fourth quarter and I impacted the game and as an official, you never want to do that. It left me with a lot of sleepless nights. I think about it constantly. I’ll go to my grave wishing that I’d been better. I know that I did my best at that time, but it wasn’t good enough.

“When we make mistakes, you’ve got to step up and own them. It’s something that all officials have to deal with. But unfortunately, when you have to deal with it in the Super Bowl, it’s difficult.”

Leavy’s admission doesn’t fix anything. But it did explain that fans weren’t crazy, and referees do have consciences. The only problem was Leavy waited four years for his confession at Seahawks training camp in 2010.

It’s true that Carroll and Wilson both owned up to responsibility post-game. But it sounded like a patterned response, not something they meant. Because both continued to explain and defend the call and execution.

That’s understandable. It’s what most of us do most of the time after a major mistake. Carroll and Wilson are entitled to grope awhile.

But the sooner they get to an unconditional “We screwed up,” the faster they get toward blowing up Keith Olbermann and the rest of the massive new subset of comedy they have created.


  • poulsbogary

    Well, is there any chance that wilson’s throw cost him a couple million in salary?

    • RadioGuy

      Probably. He’d have a much stronger negotiating position with a second straight title, but I think he’ll still get a decent raise.

      • Pixdawg13

        Yeah, I think I’d be quite content with just his raise.

      • poulsbogary

        My point being that those extra millions he would be negotiating for from a stronger position can now be used elsewhere. Supposedly.

  • Matt712

    Or it could be that those guys just think differently than the rest of the football universe – you know, the one that never gives undrafted free agents playing time, or the one where a 5’11″ 7th round QB has no chance at starting his rookie year… Or the one where a washed out NFL coach can reinvent himself into a hugely successful college coach, then take that reinvention back to the NFL and win 3 division championships, 2 conference championships and a Super Bowl within five years.

    But hey, let’s all just keep second guessing them. I think they like it.

    • Pixdawg13

      Who’s a 5’11″ 7th round QB? You can’t possibly mean Russell Wilson, drafted in the 3rd round.

      • Matt712

        Oh crap. Yes, of course. 3rd round. I should’ve handed the iPad off.

  • jafabian

    Best way to solve this faux pas is to win and win again. Win back-to-back Super Bowls. If they threepeat then it becomes winning 3 of 4 Super Bowls and not a blown Super Bowl. This team is young enough, talented enough and savvy enough to do that.

    • Vern

      I don’t think a threepeat means what you think it means.

  • PokeyPuffy

    Art, i’m surprised at you, perpetuating the anti Hawk media frenzy, enough is enough! Olberman can get ripped.

    I believe we are far from being a goner and in fact there are MANY examples of teams that have bounced back after devastating losses. Here’s just a few:

    Spurs 2013, as i have mentioned ad nauseum in previous post. Pop, Duncan, Ginobli, Parker, this group was legit even though they lost a heartbreaker of a series in 2012. No “blow up” was called for or taken, they stuck together and absolutely thrashed the league the following year.

    Mavs 2011. Major revenge against the Heat. Lets not forget they were almost up 3 games to none before collapsing and losing to Miami in 2006. So glad Cuban didn’t “blow up” the Mavs and get rid of Nowitzky after 2006.

    Here’s a good one: Florida State WIDE RIGHT 92 and 93. Who can forgot the media frenzy about “wide right”? It seemed every sports journalist had some garbly slop about wide right, and how FSU was forever doomed. The sports media narrative: destiny has CURSED FSU to near misses for eternity, they would never ever get over the hump. Guess, what, FSU went on to win THREE National Championships after the “wide right” era, two before Bowden retired.

    I realize sports journalists MUST OPINE ABOUT SOMETHING, it is after all
    a living they are trying to make. Unfortunately for us our circumstances have
    provided ripe picking for these self congratulating narcissists to hype the hell out of the loss (Art you are not among them BTW). sSheesh we’re not Buffalo or Cleveland, not even close.

    Lets get real, no one died. We still have a great team and a coach that is a total trip. LEts shut out the noise and carry on. GO HAWKS

  • Bruce McDermott

    Is it just me, or do I sense a tinge of schadenfreude in Art’s columns when he writes about the imminent decline, real or perceived, of a locally revered institution, be it the Huskies, the Mariners, the Sonics or the Hawks?

    I think it is really stretching it to suggest that athletes aged 24-26 last Sunday have passed their peaks, injuries notwithstanding. It’s suggestions like that which make me wonder about our columnist from time to time. Sounds like a narrative has been chosen, “facts” or “evidence” selected to support it, and contrary facts ignored. I think it’s usually better to let all relevant facts, balanced reasonably, create the narrative. Even though the written product of that effort may not always be as superficially attractive to read. :)

    That said, Art is correct that this offseason is extremely important, several orders of magnitude more important than last offseason. Olbermann, while often amusing, is also often a blowhard, saying outrageous things seemingly to satisfy some strange and somewhat twisted inner urges, rather than to offer fact-based opinion. So Art is also correct to reject his more ridiculous prescriptions for the Hawks.

    We’ll see what Schneider and Carroll can do here. Losing a Super Bowl creates, and reveals, cracks in the edifice, and losing it the way the Hawks just did magnifies that effect. Both of them need to earn their money in the next few months.

  • Big

    All Fords are exactly alike, but no two men are just alike. Every new life is a new thing under the sun; there has never been anything just like it before, never will be again. A young man ought to get that idea about himself; he should look for the single spark of individuality that makes him different from other folks, and develop that for all he is worth. Society and schools may try to iron it out of him; their tendency is to put it all in the same mold, but I say don’t let that spark be lost; it is your only real claim to importance.Henry Ford

  • DixDachshund

    What exactly is it Carroll and Wilson need to do? Flagellate themselves in the nearest public square?

    • poulsbogary

      People are upset that they didn’t do their best. They left a so-called “bullet in the chamber”, or they didn’t play all their cards. Or whatever the saying is.

      • DixDachshund

        Hindsight is 20-20. I can’t buy that they didn’t do their best. The coaches called a play they believed gave them the best chance to win. They were convinced calling a pass play at that point — that, if unsuccessful — could buy them two additional tries with the time left on the clock. If Marshawn got stuffed — or Russell for that matter — they’d have to expend a final time out, then roll the dice on one final play.

        I think they did attempt to play all their cards by opting for a pass play to maximize their opportunities. Alas, an exceptional play by an opposing player made it all a moot point.

        • poulsbogary

          As a way of differentiating by example, the expectations are different between throwing a hail mary from the 50 yard line and not expecting anything, vs finishing the job from virtually point blank range.

  • HW3

    I always thought the mid-90s Mariners sank themselves with their ‘you gotta love these guys’ ads. Sure enough, people loved them, and then the team wound up paying for the amount the players were loved instead of their contributions on the field over the lives of their contracts. I love Marshawn but I would not bust the salary cap for a pushing 30 RB accustomed to toting the entire DL for the length of his runs. That’s not the same as ‘blow it up’, which I think is wrong, just don’t be afraid to make what looks like big changes.

  • rosetta_stoned

    the faster they get toward blowing up Keith Olbermann…


  • Scott Crosser

    If you read win forever and get a sense of Petes mindset his responses and Russells makes sense. As for Oberman the words Stupid beyond recognition comes to mind.

  • woofer

    The Seahawks’ final play mistake is a perfect example of a self-perpetuating media feeding frenzy. Except for the draft, career NFL commentators have 7 months of pure emptiness lying in wait before them. So they have no choice but to milk the Super Bowl. What else can they do? But after the first few days no one really cares, least of all the players.

  • A guy named Dave

    Winning is the best salve. The best thing the Seahawks can do in the mean time is to ignore all of us.