In his first public interview since an ESPN story described fractures among the Seahawks, coach Pete Carroll said it was an old story and was proud of where his players are emotionally.
Pete Carroll has always been a defensive coach. But in some rare moments of genuine dismay Friday, he was a coach that was defensive. Speaking for the first time since a recent, detailed ESPN.com story described fractures within the Seahawks, he called it “an old story revisited,” saying, “I’m proud of where we are and how we’ve handled our past.”
After the third day of organized team activities at the Seahawks’ shop in Renton, he met reporters for the first time since the story’s publication caused a national stir.
“I don’t even know where all the stuff came from,” said Carroll, who was interviewed for and quoted in the story. It focused primarily on how CB Richard Sherman’s tumultuous 2016 was in part caused by his inability to let go emotionally of the last-moment loss in Super Bowl XLIX to New England.
“I would say this — I’ve said to you guys before that the big wins are just as hard as the big losses if you let it be,” he said. “Our first Super Bowl (a win) was a challenge to get back from. Our second Super Bowl was a challenge to get back from. That’s just how it is. It’s that impacting.
“Most teams don’t make it back. The odds are, you don’t make it back to where you’ve been. So as we’ve been challenged with growing and understanding and moving ahead, that’s just as normal as it could be. I’m proud of where we are and how we’ve handled our past. That article makes reference to stuff that’s years old now. This time of year, if you guys want to keep talking about it, you can, but it’s not a big deal to us at all.”
Sherman cited the the Super Bowl loss as a reason for his Dec. 15 blowup during a win over the Rams. On the sidelines and after the game, Sherman criticized a play call similar to one that cost the Super Bowl, a Russell Wilson pass from the 1-yard line that was intercepted. The story claimed that was part of Sherman’s belief that Wilson had favored-son status that exempted him from the coaches’ public critiques.
Answering a question about favoritism toward Wilson, Carroll defended his methods at length.
“I show favoritism to every one of these guys,” he said. “Every one of them. I’m trying to figure each guy out and help him out as best as I can, I think we’re doing OK at doing that.
“Each person is different. They have to fit into the team, they’ve got to maintain the team expectations and standards, and I’ve got to make sure I hold them to all of that. Individually, I treat those guys as well as I can, to what they need and how it fits them. We’ve raised Russell from a neophyte, and he has done an extraordinary job for us.
“He’s a great competitor and a great worker. I could say that about Doug (Baldwin) and Richard and Bobby (Wagner) and K.J. (Wright), but they’re all different and they’re all unique. They all deserve the individual attention that they get. If I wasn’t doing that, I’m not reaching to help them be the best they can be. I’m not going to treat everybody the same and overlook whatever is going with them individually. I’m not doing that.
“If you don’t think it’s working, then too bad. I think it’s working pretty darn well. It’s the best way we know how to do it. We’re demanding that these guys find their best. I’m demanding of myself that I find that in them, and help them get there and stay there as long as we can and continue to be successful.”
Carroll went on to suggest that some tension was inevitable among highly competitive people, and perhaps not well understood by media.
“In essence, I guess things are a lot different than maybe you guys think,” he said. “I don’t know that, but in here with us and the work that we’re doing, I think we’re in a marvelous position. That doesn’t mean everybody’s on the same page exactly right all the time. I’m not either.
“We’ve got to work at it. It’s a challenge. It’s about developing relationships and working with people and helping them to find their best. That’s what we’re working at right here. We’re not doing it right all the time, but we’re trying.”
Carroll said that — despite Sherman’s words and deeds — there was no emotional hangover from the Super Bowl defeat that carried into 2016.
“Nothing. Nothing. It wasn’t even a question,” he said. “I don’t know if it ever even came up. But I will say this, and I’m putting myself in trouble by saying this, it’s never going away for me. The first one (the win over Denver) is never going away for me. It has affected me for the rest of my life, and the next one will affect me for the rest of my life.
“I’m OK with that. I’ve just got to keep going. I’ve got to manage my ways so I can keep moving forward. I don’t say that it affected me in a negative way, it’s just a big experience. It’s a lot you go through. It’s a lot that you deal with. You’ve got to put it in the right place so that the next step you take can be the best step that you’re taking. That’s what we’re working at doing.”
Clearly, Carroll’s response indicated the story struck a nerve. Also clear is that Sherman processed it differently than Carroll. And it was different than how Wilson handled it.
Wilson, who also was interviewed Friday, praised Sherman as a player and avoided direct answers to questions about the accuracy of the story, which he claimed to have read only partially. But in talking about how he dealt with the loss, and not referencing Sherman directly, he said:
“If you’re always looking in the rear view mirror, you’ll never get ahead.”
That is about as succinct a counterpoint as is possible regarding Sherman’s December words and deeds. But Sherman wasn’t traded, despite the Seahawks’ open courting of offers, and is in camp where, according to Carroll, he is diligent as always at practice, and mentoring younger players, also as he has always done.
The Seahawks may be ready to turn a corner on the saga. Then again, we have yet to hear from Sherman.
Kaepernick not being signed, for now
On other matters, Carroll said the Seahawks aren’t signing free agent Colin Kaepernick as a backup quarterback for now, but did not close the door if circumstances change.
“Colin’s been a fantastic football player, and he’s going to continue to be,” he said. “At this time, we didn’t do anything with it. But we know where he is and who he is. We had a chance to understand him much more so. He’s a starter in this league. And we have a starter.”
Asked if Kaepernick’s social activism was a factor in his lack of offers, Carroll added, “I don’t know that. Let’s wait and see. There’s some other guys still out too.
“I can’t imagine that someone won’t give him a chance to play.”
Asked how he felt with second-year QB Trevone Boykin as backup, Carroll said, “Well, I feel about like I did a year ago. We’re still trying to develop it and make sure we’re making the right decisions. We’ll continue to work at it. Trevone continues to need to be pushed.”
Wilson was supportive of Kaepernick, but stopped short of playing general manager.
“I haven’t had the chance to be around Colin too much, but the times I have, he’s been great,” Wilson said. “He’s obviously, a really, really good football player. I have tons of respect for him in that way.
“In terms of everything else he stood for too, I think that he was trying to stand for the right things. He was trying to stand for equality. And so I respect that too.”
Carroll attends Kennedy’s services
Carroll and other Seahawks personnel attended the funeral of Hall of Famer Cortez Kennedy in Osceola, AR. this week. The Seahawks’ eight-time Pro Bowl lineman died in his Orlando home the past week at 48.
“It was unbelievable the effect he had on so many people,” he said. “He was a monster on the field, but off the field he was so thoughtful, kind and caring.”
The Seahawks will honor Kennedy’s memory this season by wearing a helmet decal bearing his 96 jersey number.
FS Earl Thomas was not a full go in the no-contact practices, but he was running around normally. Carroll said his return from a broken tibia is ahead of schedule. Carroll said Thomas should be ready for training camp in late July . . . WR Tyler Lockett, who broke his tibia and fibula Dec. 24, is not as far along. . . DE Frank Clark has missed the camp so far with a case of the mumps . . . The offensive line appeared to be what Carroll suggested as the No. 1 unit, with the exception of free agent signee Luke Joeckel, likely the left guard who is not participating in drills as he recovers from ankle surgery. George Fant was at left tackle, Justin Britt at center, Mark Glowinski at right guard and Germain Ifedi at right tackle.