BY Art Thiel 06:30AM 02/29/2016

Thiel: Some LA leverage in Carroll extension talks

The return of Los Angeles to the NFL may provide fresh leverage in Pete Carroll’s contract extension talks with Seahawks owner Paul Allen. Did you know Rams’ Jeff Fisher has six non-winning seasons in a row?

Pete Carroll has no complaints about his Seattle situation.  Except it’s not LA. / Drew McKenzie, Sportspress Northwest

Word last week that coach Pete Carroll and the Seahawks are talking about a contract  extension was not necessarily big news. Talking doesn’t mean much until results are delivered. But the conversation would be a delight upon which to eavesdrop.

It might go something like this:

Paul Allen: Pete, as you know, I have the utmost respect for you and your work. You’ve brought Seattle a championship. Nevertheless, would you agree with me that it seems as if there should have been more?

Carroll: I agree. But there’s going to be a team in Los Angeles this year and —

Allen: How does $12 million sound? Or would you like an equity stake in the franchise?

Hey, a chunk of the big cheese wouldn’t be an outlandish offer. As the richest owner in the NFL by a factor of four, Allen has no practical limit to what he can provide.

Except, of, course, Los Angeles.


The relocation of the Rams after a 21-year detour to St. Louis helped the Seahawks in removing the strained geography of a Central Time Zone team in the NFC West. But it also provided Carroll some timely leverage regarding his future in Seattle.

Carroll has offered no laments about his situation, nor should he.

The club is owned by a stupendously wealthy local guy with neither a need for attention nor a pretense to football knowledge, has a general manager that he hired and works well with, and a 27-year-old quarterback in the NFL’s top tier. And Carroll works in the most energized fan base upon the fruited plain.

In no way, shape or form does any NFL coach have it so good. Some may argue that New England’s Bill Belichick is right there, but owner Robert Kraft insinuates himself enough to be annoying.

Now that Kraft and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell are staring daggers at each other, the conflict may draw to a close the various deflators, wiretappers, encryption experts, spy satellite operations specialists and Navajo code talkers that the Pats employ off the books to steal their way to success.

NFL coaches’ salaries rarely see public light, but the best guesses are that Carroll and Belichick are around $9 million annually. That should be enough to keep both in the finest meats and cheeses. But what if Carroll wants more than cash?

What if he wants his old title back: King of LA?

Earning seven Pac-10 titles at USC, Carroll was the ultimate winner in the front-runningest town of them all. The one stain on his legacy, the NCAA sanctions on his program after he left for Seattle, is likely to get unwound in court because the NCAA, as Huskies fans know from the Rick Neuheisel wrongful-termination suit, does not know what it is doing.

The reason the NFL finally filled the vacancy in LA is because Rams owner Stan Kroenke is committed to building in Inglewood much more than a stadium. He promises to build a home world for the NFL that will include choirs, doves and gold-bullion pavers upon which white steeds will ferry diamond-encrusted chariots filled with owners to their suites high above the sweaty masses.

Nowhere in this utopia will appear the word “concussion.”

What coach wouldn’t want in on that action?

Nothing is imminent regarding a coaching change for the Rams. Jeff Fisher is, like Carroll, signed through 2016, and has more ties to LA than Carroll. He grew up a Rams fan in Woodland Hills, went to Taft High School, played cornerback at USC and his mother still lives there.

But Fisher, 58, hasn’t had a winning record in the most recent six seasons of his 21 years as an NFL head coach. Yes, he swept the Seahawks in 2015, but everyone knows that after the first two-game losing streak in LA, most of the suite-holders will go back to their scripts, spas and air kisses. The market is a proven two-time loser in the NFL and, in the two-decade absence of pro football, seems to have survived with no noticeable loss of prestige, wealth or cleavage.

The Rams will play in the old dump, the Coliseum, until the new digs are ready in 2019. But the NFL has made a large bet on Kroenke’s vision. He will feel the pressure to ramp up to the new Valhalla with something other than another 7-9 Fisher team.

It may be that the sticking point for Carroll in Seattle is not money, but time. He may want to extend only through 2018. His front-office partner, GM John Schneider, who is on the same contract schedule, might feel inspired to return to his home in Wisconsin, which has a football team too.

Carroll could also retire and say his point has been made. Unless there’s another point to be be made: In coaching, 80 is the new 60.


  • notaboomer

    don’t i get a hat tip for this story idea?

    btw nice touch: Nowhere in this utopia will appear the word “concussion.”

    • art thiel

      Neither you nor I likely were the first to it, but I hadn’t had a swing at it yet.

      • John M

        OK, Art, I’m sure you had even more fun writing this piece than I had reading it, but L.A.? Really? Do people who like life for its ownself still want to BE there? Even for a few more million? It was a better place with the smog. You used to be able to have fun there without spending much. There were far fewer freeway snipers and burning houses. No matter what you did no one demanded to know your name. I know you have to keep us Seahawk junkies content even in the off season, but Pete and John have about the sweetest deal this side of an Arab sheik. They wouldn’t. We have people that would curse their lives forever. FOREVER!

        • art thiel

          Well, we tend to flatter ourselves here about God’s country and consider LA hell on earth. But having driven on its many freeways many times, I can tell you that at least if they had a “fish truck” rollover near rush hour, as did SB 99 last summer here, there would be a drive-around solution.

          In Seattle, the backups went north to Vancouver. south to Portland and east to Spokane. Almost a complete Donner party.

          • SeaRaays

            Yes. But here they had fish to eat. Donner was for dinner northeast of there.

          • John M

            Right on, SeaRaays, it’s just the NW approach to a “drive around.” Of course the bus tunnel was supposed to solve most of our urban traffic problems, but due to some slight miscalculations we’ll have to wait for Big Bertha and the backfill excavators to clear up the whole mess . . .

  • Long-Time Mariners Fan

    What? Just “white steeds?” No unicorns? Yawn……

    • art thiel

      I was thinking about gossamer wings, but I didn’t want to disturb google search.

  • Kevin Lynch

    Great ARTicle. Loved it. What college did you go to and learn those metaphors? They are priceless!

    • art thiel

      Had a high school English teacher who also was my basketball coach. Told me my future was as a writer.

  • MrPrimeMinister

    Quite enjoyable read. Would that we all had English teachers in our forming years who not only had a love for the written word, but enjoyed bestowing it on future generations. Regarding an ownership stake–very tangible as a negotiating item. Would you are to comment on a couple items? 1)Dante Fowler–has Goodell successfully buried this? To me his actions are as eggregious as Ray Rice’s. 2)The Jared Goff hand controversy–this speaks directly to deflate gate. Some say his hand size shouldnot affect his draft ability, nor his potential for success. I say the more and fuller that you can wrap your hand around the ball, the farther and more accurate you can throw it. In this context, if one can’t make his hand bigger to realize that success, what is the alternative? You guessed it, make the ball smaller. Which is what Brady did.

    • art thiel

      Fowler’s failure to stop matters instantly was awful, but not necessarily unlawful. I doubt Goodell has come close to figuring it out.

      Hand size is a big part of why the Seahawks weren’t worried about Wilson’s height. But Dave Krieg managed a 19-year NFL career with small hands, so it can be done.

      • MrPrimeMinister

        Still have a bad feeling on the fowler deal. Cannot fully reconcile it with the NFL reputation for violence against women. Fowler must have imagined himself as Michael Buffer.

        • art thiel

          Bad feelings often don’t correspond with the law.

          But I can’t wait for Goodell to step in and sort out baby mama vs. girlfriend. That I would pay to attend.

  • 1coolguy

    No leverage at all – Kroenke LOVES Fisher and also, Carroll LOVES what he has built and needs to still prove with the Seahawks.

    • art thiel

      Nowhere does love go astray faster than in pro sports. Having said that, I think Carroll appreciates what he has here, and likely will extend. The queation is for how long?

  • 1coolguy

    ” owner Robert Kraft insinuates himself”
    Insinuates or insulates?

    • art thiel


  • Paul Harmening

    Key watch word (number) you mentioned…2018-red. Now, all hands will be wringing waiting to see just exactly where the extension lands. If this were roulette, the 12 has it all on black, and the wheel is spinning.

    Once again Art, you pulled the rabbit out of an empty hat while directing our attention on your Merriam-Webster’s Thesaurus. I’m headed outside to go through my trash can looking for that bottle of Valium I threw away. Thanks a lot!

    • art thiel

      You need to be brought up to speed on re-sale value of certain pharmaceuticals.

  • Sonny Clark

    Loved the “meats and cheeses” reference. I’ll feel better when Coach has been re-signed, though, despite all the valid reasons over why he would stay and not return to LA the conquering hero. He’s our MVP no matter who is suiting up on the field.

    • art thiel

      The success really is built on one guy.

  • PokeyPuffy

    Art i agree, I think the lights on Fischer will be bright, perhaps a factor in his ultimate undoing. The Rams are a quarter-back-less wonder that are a bore to watch and thanks to their NFC West schedule, could rack up losses next season if they are not careful. And nothing is scorned like a loser in LA, the Lakers are already testing new lows with the fan base….

    • art thiel

      The only splashes allowed in LA are big ones. Not sure the Rams and Fisher are capable.