BY Art Thiel 07:25PM 09/25/2017

Thiel: Trump supporters got a hug from Carroll

All the Seahawks stayed inside for the anthem Sunday in Tennessee, but not all wanted to be considered a protester. Here’s how Carroll dealt with the roster’s Trump supporters.

Coach Pete Carroll   / Drew McKenzie, Sportspress Northwest

One of the odd aspects in the continuing fallout over President Trump’s denigration of the NFL’s anthem protestors is that there has been little coverage of responses from players who didn’t want to be a part of any protest. Understandably, some players are reluctant to be quoted for pragmatic reasons, like not wanting to damage their NFL futures.

And then there are the Trump supporters. Yes, it’s true, Seahawks fans. They walk among the blues.

So I asked coach Pete Carroll Monday, following the 33-27 loss in Tennessee that dropped the Seahawks to 1-2, what he said to those players during the tense meetings Saturday at the team hotel when players and coaches discussed responses to the insults from the White House.

His answer was so Carroll.

“Directly, what I did is I hugged them,” he said.  “I talked to them, and expressed that I appreciate where they’re coming from, and what they feel with no other thought but to accept them.”

That response explains why lots of players enjoy playing for Carroll. It’s called empathy — a respectful sensitivity to another’s feelings, as well as the ability to listen without judgment. It’s a rare capacity in any leadership post, and much more elusive in an industry where manhood is often defined by the sort of faux-macho bluster often exhibited by the president.

The approach was probably important in persuading Trump supporters — or the merely fearful — to set aside their reluctance to create at least a public unanimity. Or, in old-school parlance, take one for the team.

“They have every right in the world to feel the way they feel,” he said. “They had a choice to make, to do what they wanted to do. They decided to stay with the team. That was a hard decision for a few guys, and I totally understand that.”

Carroll talked about how athletes in team sports are schooled in the acceptance of individual sacrifice.

They know there are times you’re acting on the good of the group rather than what is fit for you personally,” he said. “That’s about the sacrifice you make for the good of the group. I think it was powerful, probably more so than anything. They were willing to do that.

“Loved them up and hugged them up and were grateful for them and their perspective.”

The explanation means a couple of things: Don’t mistake an entire team’s absence from a sideline as an expression of unanimity, and don’t underestimate Carroll’s ability to use his empathy skills to keep a team from fracturing.

Was he concerned someone would break ranks?

“To some extent, yes,” he said. “That’s why there was a long discussion and a lot of conversation and a lot of emotion shared. Did you ask if I was worried about it? No, I was just concerned for their own being.

“I wanted them to feel connected to what was going on, in the way that maybe they had to make the sacrifice of their thought. It’s a powerful statement, maybe more so for those guys than for the majority of those guys that felt differently.”

Carroll acknowledged that he had not been in a situation like this one.

“It was unique because the subject matter is unique,” he said. “We’ve been in these discussions (about national racial politics) before here. By design, we have delved into the topics a long time ago. I was practicing how to get in discussions of different issues because it gives us a chance to find out who we are as individuals as we belong to a team.

” The crunch of time was an issue (referring to Trump’s Friday rant before a Sunday game). You could feel a sense of urgency that I wish we didn’t have to deal with, so we could take all the time we needed. But we weren’t afforded that. So you have to deal with what you’ve got.”

Carroll wouldn’t say whether the depth and intensity of the Saturday meetings made an impact on Sunday’s outcome, which featured a lot of Seahawks play Carroll called uncharacteristic.

“I think it’s relative, and (all NFL teams) had to handle it the way they did; I don’t know,” he said, mentioning he talked by phone with Titans coach Mike Mularkey Sunday morning. “He wanted to know what we were doing. He said great, and they were going to do the same thing.

“I don’t know if they were going to do the same thing before that phone call or after it. I know that some of our players had been talking to (Titans players), so they had shared some ideas.”

Carroll lamented that critics of the player protests are missing the point.

“I think they don’t understand why people are willing to stand up and try to speak out,” he said. “I don’t think they are recognizing the courage that that takes and what they may be jeopardizing.

“I think this is such an important moment. I don’t think we should miss it. We need new empathy skills. Maybe we will find some new teachers and we will come to understand how to move forward. It’s an exciting potential. I hope it happens.’’

If this whole pro football coaching gig doesn’t work out for Carroll, he may have a shot at a fresh career.

Of all things . . . Seahawks messed up snaps too

Carroll said part of the offense’s problems early in Sunday’s game were four failures to get the snap between C Justin Britt and QB Russell Wilson.

“It wasn’t one thing,” he said. “If it was that, it would have been easy to fix. They were all different.

“We had a low snap. We had a snap under center that we mishandled. We had a snap in a silent-count situation that was off-timed. There was a low ball that Russell didn’t catch that he usually gets, and it just got away from him. It’s four huge opportunities. So it’s hard to take those.” . . .  Carroll had no news to report on the groin strain with WR Doug Baldwin that kept him out of the final drive in Tennessee.


  • disqus_aEA4p3zFXu

    Carroll’s words were powerful. He’s a unifier and I fully expect the Hawks to make a deep run this year.

    • art thiel

      Not sure his unifier tactics can make up for lessened talent, but it can’t hurt.

    • Kirkland

      Read his book “Win Forever”, which has a lot of interesting off-field philosophies.

  • Tman

    Let’s not forget what this is all about.

    Do Policemen carry guns in England?
    Policemen used to carry billy clubs in America.
    Whose idea was it to arm policemen anyway?

    Michael Bennett was thrown to the ground, handcuffed, terrorized and threatened with his life in the filthiest manner.

    Do police need guns to get your stolen stereo back? Your stolen car? Calm your drunken spouse? What lawful use might a cop have for a gun?

    • Dan Foss

      Point out the incidents with an unarmed “black man” (men, women, etc), and then how the statistic for same is outside of the norm for other races.

      The facts bear out that in almost all of the cases that have brought rioting, the officers acted within authority due to the perpetrator being armed. Up for discussion is why a certain ethnic type is over-represented in these incidents and in crime statistics and in the prison population. Whether it be glorification of the lifestyle in game, song, etc. Whether it is racism at the core (it is demonstrably easier to convict black men for instance), or what the cause may be.

      Those sitting, kneeling and now AWOL are claiming that this is a blue on black crime. The facts do not support this. They just do not. I am sure most will do absolutely no research (google is so easy, why not?) and will just believe the hype reported by those with a left leaning political agenda. So yes, this is political – Fringe verses fringe perhaps.

      Now while I do not like the protest (at least Kap showed some respect by kneeling in a head down manner, as opposed to those sitting and skipping it altogether), our great country and the sacrifice of patriots from the beginning of our existence is just for this purpose – so that we have the freedom to protest. To sit. To stand and even to burn the flag that represents the freedoms we have in the US with our Constitution and Bill of Rights. The good news is that a whole new generation are now intimate with the idea of freedom of speech – both by NFL and NBA players,and even by the President. Yes, he has his free opinion. This freedom has been being pressed by the politically correct against those they do not like for 8 years. Now the other side is speaking against the other and suddenly there is outrage. Kind of comical.

      As for me, I will continue to stand. I think that racism is real, but improving and I also feel that race is being used in an attempt to achieve a political objective – see Alinsky’s Rules For Radicals Rule #13.

      • art thiel

        Regarding police behavior, and without disputing your police-incidence data, I have two words: De-escalation training.

        Regarding race being used for a political end, the NFL part of the protest began when Obama was president, as did many less notable demands for police reform. Sadly, there will likely be need to continue once Trump is gone.

        • 1coolguy

          in another 8 years, after his re-election.

          • art thiel

            All depends on what the Russians want.

        • nogdolan

          No it really starts with having respect for authority. In most if not all incidents in the last 8 years they started with a challenge of authority. It’s called a “Thug Life” and it is getting people killed. That protests do nothing but embolden people to challenge the police. Art ask yourself why these incidents are happening in cities staunchly controlled by Democrats? Are there not poverty problems and drug crime in other cities? And as Dan said above the actual statistics do not bear out these claims by the player.

    • art thiel

      Easy to lose sight, isn’t it? Trump knows human behavior well.

    • Robyn Bulen
    • Robyn Bulen
  • tor5

    Such interesting times, and appreciate that you are asking good questions, Art, and reporting fairly without turning your brain off. Political opinions are strange beasts. Why, for instance, would someone be so deeply offended by a kneeling or sitting player because they think it “disrespects the military,” and yet support Trump, who insulted a military family, who insists John McCain is not a hero, and who avoided service when his number was called? Really, I don’t want to attack these people, but I just don’t understand. I don’t like the kneeling/sitting either, but it’s hardly an issue to me given so many real worries about the country. I’m grateful to Pete Carroll and a number of players who speak so eloquently of unity and understanding, while others sow division for cheap applause.

    • art thiel

      The hypocrisy of his words and deeds matter little to people fearful of the perceived threats he plays upon. In a time of massive change, many created by non-political forces (like advances in technology that eliminate jobs), people crave someone with simple answers to complex problems. The histories of America and other Western as well as Eastern empires are littered with examples of the rise of tyranny and fascism in similar circumstances. There is nothing new here.

      • John M

        Yes, Art, the Donald it’s-all-in-the-family Trump is our monster of the times. He doesn’t approach the charm of Caesar or even Castro, but he’s their son-of-a-bitch, as Putin is to some Russians. Every day Trump remains in power is an astonishment, but not an amusing one.

        The Seahawks have some very good players, and I think they like many of us wonder how this strangeness will be resolved . . .

        • art thiel

          Navigating this outside agitation will be the challenge of Carroll’s career.

        • 1coolguy

          When Trump is re-elected, then what will you do? Get with it and quit with the typical, left, lib, intolerant Dem rag, it was destroyed when the corrupt Clinton was beaten.

          • Effzee

            Trump’s victory sure has made his myopic base of pea-brained hateful trash arrogant. The previous versions of uninformed, out of touch, narrow minded Republican candidates weren’t extreme enough to rally the GOP voters together, but the most retched clown of them all was able to succeed in this. How does it feel to be on the same side as the KKK? Congratulations on teaming with the worst of the worst.

            I wouldn’t plan on Trump being re-elected, however. I abstained from voting because there wasn’t a candidate that I wanted to support. Clinton is corrupt as hell, and I sure wasn’t going to vote for her, but to pretend that Trump is any less corrupt is unfathomably ignorant.

            Barely more than half of the country voted in the last election, and more than half of those people voted for someone not named Trump. That is far from a mandate. Just like the Social Justice Warriors on the left, screaming the loudest doesn’t mean you’re correct. You’re no different than them: Just a bunch of extremist snowflakes crying loudly about your hypersensitive, absurd notions of victimhood, completely oblivious to the conditions the vast majority of us are slogging through here in the Real World.

            Trump’s words and deeds will motivate the citizenry who didn’t vote to make their voices be heard next time. I guarantee you this: The only way he stays in office is if he becomes so drunk with power that he refuses to leave when voted out, which will cause a true civil war. But by then, his supporters will become so hypnotized by his brazen, Anti-American arrogance that they will fall in line, just like the Germans did under Hitler.

    • Kirkland

      A Puerto Rican friend just got fresh water back in her house a couple of days ago. Electricity has been spotty, so she’s been out of the news loop. When she finds out Trump has been talking about the anthem and NFL, and not getting Puerto Rico recovering, she will be livid.

      • art thiel

        Incongruity is something not on Trump’s radar.

      • 1coolguy

        PR has been living off the Dems for decades – don’t blame Trump for the weather or the failure of a Dem US territory to be demolished by yet one more hurricane. PR is a mess and hes been for decades.

        • art thiel

          Well, then, they probably deserved it, right?

        • tor5

          Ah… being demolished by a hurricane was their “failure” because they’re “Dem.” That makes perfect sense.

  • DAWG Jeff Pearlman (sports author) tweeted / posted this letter on his web site yesterday. I highly recommend those that are interested in Trump and the USFL to go to Jeff Pearlman’s sites and take it all in. Oh, yes, buy his books ! This isn’t some communist/socialist State. Man works for a living !

    • art thiel

      I retweeted Jeff’s tweet on this letter. He’s worthy follow on Twitter.

  • DAWG ACLU tweeted out this paragraph from Jackie Robinson’s autobiography “I Never Had It Made”. Am I missing something ? There seems to be a deep history here !