BY Art Thiel 06:00AM 01/10/2020

Thiel: Carroll’s 2,371 opening words, 10 years ago

When his shocking hire away from USC was announced, Pete Carroll took to the podium at Seahawks HQ to explain himself in nearly 12 minutes of uninterrupted rhetorical glory.

On the day of his hire in Seattle, Pete Carroll poses with then-Seahawks CEO Tod Leiweke. / NBC Sports

For the 10th anniversary of Pete Carroll’s hire by the Seahawks on Jan. 10, 2010, a move that stunned the American football universe, I offer something different: A replay of his first Seattle words, not mine, except for these six introductory paragraphs.

The decision to fire coach and well-regarded local guy Jim Mora, groomed to succeed Mike Holmgren, after a single 5-11 season, was surprising enough in Seattle. Carroll’s poaching, led primarily by then-CEO Tod Leiweke, from a fabulously successful run at USC, where he was known as “The King of LA,” was a shocker across the fruited plain.

He appeared late morning at the auditorium at team headquarters in Renton, grabbed the podium and went off, unscripted. The unofficial clock on the opening statement was 11½ minutes. The transcript’s word count was 2,371. Then he answered questions with another 3,000 or so words.

Below is the official transcript of the opening statement. I have an original print copy of the entire presser, but it’s preserved under a secure glass case, like the original Declaration of Independence at the National Archives. You have to pay me $10 to see it.

The only thing different in this digital version is the addition of paragraphs and periods. As we have all come to learn and appreciate, Carroll’s monologues include neither. As was once written of Sonics star Gary Payton, Carroll is fated to die in mid-sentence.

Please get an extra coffee/scotch/kale smoothie and read it. I add here a single opinion after re-reading this 10 years later: For someone who talks a lot, he did what he said he would do. In sports, that is a rare, admirable feat.

——Pete Carroll, Jan. 10, 2010—–

I am so fired up to be here today. To start this thing off, the first thing we got to do is tour the facility. Right from the beginning, they’ve undersold. This is a tremendous place to come to work. My appreciation for this opportunity, from the top of the organization, from Paul Allen, Tod Leiweke, and everybody that I’ve had a chance—in this short time—to deal with, have set this thing in motion in a manner that really is almost dreamlike for me.

Carroll congratulates Marshawn Lynch after his Beastquake run against the New Orleans Saints. / Seattle Sports Commission

I’ve been so impressed with their vision, and their outlook to the future, and how
they want this organization to be run, and how they hope it can gain a stature in the
community of the NFL and for the people that surround us here in the Seattle area, that is
exactly in line with the way I think, and as I envision it, and as I hope this to all come
together here in time. This is a very, very important time as we introduce ourselves to
each other.

I come from a place where we had tremendous fortune, and I was blessed to
be at the University of Southern California for the years I was there. And the things we
accomplished, the growth that we experienced, has really given me an opportunity as a
coach that makes me a much different guy than I was a few years back.

With the knowledge of that and the experience of that, as this opportunity presented itself, I just could not pass up the chance to come here. It’s just an amazing opportunity. I have
always loved the NFL so much. I loved my time in college football, but always I had a
thought that maybe it could come together in a manner that would fit right, that would
give me the chance to do things the way I would like to do it, and it’s come together.

I know that the vision for the program starts at the top. I know that Paul Allen
wants to win, and he doesn’t want to just win once in a while. He wants to win from now
on. To me, that fits exactly with the way I think, and the way I’ve tried to present our
football in recent years.

I’ve grown up in the last 10 years with expectations in coaching. It’s hard to imagine that the standards could be set so high, where you’re only judged by perfection. I have embraced that thought, and it has made me more clear about how we come to this opportunity here in Seattle, to take us to a place where I hope that we can
separate, we can do things in a special manner, I hope we can do things better than it’s
ever been done before around here. (There are) extraordinarily high expectations. I love
living in that world. I love setting our sights so far out, setting our standards so high, that
maybe it doesn’t even seem feasible. That’s okay with me.

Carroll has reached the second round of the playoffs in seven of his 10 years, a feat matched only by Bill Belichick. / Drew Sellers, Sportspress Northwest

So, as we enter into this, and are embarking into this new time here with the Seahawks, I’m hoping that the people that follow us in this unbelievable fan following will join in, even more than ever before.

I’ve heard nothing but extraordinary comments about the stadium. I have not been at Qwest Field for game time, but with the whole 12th Man, which we need, and the fan base that we have that has just blown this place away, I can’t wait to be part of that.

As a defensive background guy, knowing that we can call on the 12th Man on third down, we need to take advantage. We need to make sure that we speed this thing up on the edge, we take advantage of our pass rush opportunities to play to the crowd. That will help us be more effective. To be able to connect like that on the first day I’m talking to you, with the fan base, that’s an unusual situation for a coach. But I’m counting on that factor to help us as well.

The style of play here, I’m going to give you a little bit of insight about what we’re thinking here. If you watch our team play, you’re going to see great effort. If you watch our team play, you’re going to see great enthusiasm. We’re going to play this game like it’s supposed to be played, like you love the game of football and it shows in the way that you bring it from day to day.

Carroll’s 144 regular-season and post-season wins are 23rd on the NFL all-time list. / Drew Sellers, Sportspress Northwest

I want to see a very, very tough football team from the word go. That’s critically important to us. And I want you to see a team that plays smart. So if you’ve got great effort, and you have great enthusiasm, you have great toughness about your program, and you play with great smarts and you do things well, do things right, you have a chance to be a pretty good football team just from that. That’s what it will begin with: A very clear thought of how we’re going to create our ball.

We have to run the football to be successful in our division first, and then in
the NFL. You have to. So as we set our sights forward, you’ll follow how this will come
together and how this will set our course, and philosophically about running the
football . . . It will affect everything that follows. It’ll affect defense, it’ll affect our
passing game, it’ll help our quarterback. It’ll give us the kind of mindset in the approach
that we all love, to back when we follow this game of football. So I’m really excited
about that. You’ll know more about that in the days to come. You’ll understand what I’m
talking about.

I know that there’s questions about: I was an NFL coach for a long time, 16
years, went back to college coaching for nine seasons at USC, what’s happened? What has this all meant, and what are you getting, really, when you’re getting me coming into
this program?

Carroll and GM John Schneider are one of the most effective management tandems in the NFL. / Drew McKenzie, Sportspress Northwest

There has been a tremendous amount of growth through these past nine years. One, I told you about, about the expectations and living with that. We’re in the NFL. The expectations are, you got to win. I totally understand that, and I get it, and I love that part of what goes on about being in the league. But these expectations don’t have to overwhelm us. They have to drive us and guide us.

In my time dealing with championships year after year after year, there comes a mindset of expectations with the players and the coaches in how we prepare and how we practice that is critically  important to our future. We have to embrace and understand the fact that the way you practice is what makes you. This is a mindset that I’m hoping we will be able to convey as quickly as possible to our players, and of course I have to extend it from my staff to our players. But it is what gives you a chance to be a champion from now on.

You have to understand the fundamentals of making championship play and bringing yourself to the kind of excellence that it takes to play great. It comes from the way you prepare and the way you practice. It’s an extremely big part of our program, and we’ll share it with you as we go through it.

A Gatorade bath began the party in New York to celebrate the Super Bowl win. / Corky Trewin, Seattle Seahawks

I know that in years past at SC, we had open practices and we had people coming in and out all the time, and it was an atmosphere that is not common in the NFL. I don’t think it’s going to be quite the same here. It’s going to be a little bit different. But we still want to introduce our football to the people that follow us, and know what we’re all about, so that you can embrace it and be part of it as well.

I think I benefited tremendously in the process in college football of evaluating young players and having to project players into their future and have to see and have the vision to see where they’re going and what they could become, is something that has more keenly attuned me to the whole process of evaluating and analysis of personnel that I’m really excited to bring to our organization. In our time at SC, we recruited all of the same guys that are playing in the NFL, basically.

So you’ll ask, ‘How are you going to coach young kids coming from high school to college, and now you’re going to coach grown men?’ Well, they’re the same guys. They’re the same people, they’re just a little bit older. They grow and they experience things a little bit differently, but they’re the same people.

I think in the years we were at SC, there’s 60-something guys who were drafted, and I don’t even know the numbers, but a bunch of first-rounders. They’re the same guys we’re looking for. They’re the same guys we’re looking for as we go through this draft process, and I’m really looking forward to bringing that to the organization.

I have a different way of looking at it than I did when I was only a coach. At USC, I had an
opportunity to be in charge of the entire program, and have the expectations of evaluating
and analysis and managing in a manner that I think has prepared me for this opportunity
in a way that I hope I will be very successful at.

My job is really to orchestrate the performance of this club. In that, as I mentioned about practice, and as I mentioned about dealing with our personnel, this is a big job. And it’s a job that encompasses a lot of aspects of it, and I’m going to need a tremendous amount of help.

We will enter into a search here to hire a general manager and put that position in place in the next few days. As a matter of fact, we’ll start this afternoon. This is an enormous decision for us, and it’s a process that we’ll go through together. I’m thrilled to be part of this process. It is extremely instrumental into our future.

The whole process of finding our talent, the process of making it fit with the coaching and the style of our play, and being able to be integrally involved in that, is hugely important to me, and . . . really, the reason that I’ve decided to come here is that I understand from the organization that I will be integrally involved in all aspects of that. That’s something that will give me a chance to be the best I can be.

“If there was a difference from when I was in the NFL before to when I (am) in
the NFL now, it’s that I think that the experience that I had then, the experience that I had
in college football, to see what it’s like to run a program, and to come here with the
freedom that we’re going to have, that we’re going to share here, the collaboration that
we will present to you as leading this organization, is exactly what I was looking for,
exactly what I needed, I think, to be the very best I can offer the Seattle Seahawks. So
with that, this is an extraordinary time, and I hope that you can sense the excitement that I
feel about this opportunity.

I know it’s going to be hard. I know it’s going to be difficult. People from where I come from want to say, ‘Gosh, why would you do that when you win all the time in college football, and here, you’re going into the meat-grinder of the NFL?’ I’m ready. I couldn’t be more prepared for it. I couldn’t be more excited about it, and I can’t wait to get started.

At the team’s interview room in an Indianapolis hotel at the combine, Carroll tried to match the bare-chest challenge of D.K. Metcalf. Didn’t work. / Seahawks.com

I know we have to go through the press conference, but I can’t wait to get upstairs and start looking at film and getting this thing rolling.

With that, the last thing I’ll leave you with, that you’ll hear a lot from us in this
program, is this program is about competition. We’ll see, in all aspects of the work that we do, that we will be in a relentless pursuit of the competitive edge in everything we’re doing, from the front office to the administration to all of the personnel aspects, to all the work with our players, to the off-season work.

We’re going to compete like crazy, like maybe you’ve never seen. And I hope that that will be the theme that will rise to us, that will be the most important part of it, because we are in the most competitive world you can be in, in the NFL. I can’t wait to get this thing under way. I can’t wait to get it started.

I’m pleased to see that we have some players out here. I saw—just to go through
the old—it was great to see Warren (Moon) out there. Thanks for the little bit of love and
support out there. Awesome. I know that Lawrence Jackson is here, one of my guys from
SC. I didn’t see Lofa (Tatupu) yet, is Lofa out there somewhere? But the guys that will
come here, I want them to come see me as soon as possible. I see Aaron (Curry) in the
back, back there. Awesome to see you back there, and Josh (Wilson), I think you’re out
here somewhere too.

It starts with us, our ability to communicate to one another, our ability to see a common vision, and to do this together. I think you’re going to be jacked about the coaches that are going to come in here, and the attitude that they’ll bring, but we need you guys to jump on board and go with us. It won’t happen any other way. We need to be together in our mission on this. So thanks to those guys representing the rest of the fellows that will be part of this. I can’t wait to get going. It’s great to be a Seahawk.

At the Prudential Center arena in Newark, N.J., ahead of Super Bowl XLVIII in 2014, it was possible to take Pete Carroll literally and virtually. / Art Thiel, Sportspress Northwest


YourThoughts

  • tor5

    Great post, Art. Thanks! It made my day! Made me think about when Pete made Russell Wilson starting QB. I was shocked. It seemed so premature. Little did we know. He walked the talk in that move… and the rest is history!

    • art thiel

      I thought it would be fun to see the start of a Seattle sports operation that yielded a decade of substantive results.

  • John C. Morris

    I’ve been tracking Pete much closer this year…I usually watch all his press conferences and there is some great youtube content on his philosophy on coaching. I really appreciate this recap Art because it demonstrates how consistent he has been with his message and his approach. I believe there is a lot to learn from him and as a person that manages staff, I have been trying to apply some of his techniques to my team, letting people use their talents in their own way to achieve great things.

    • art thiel

      Much of Carroll’s teachings have broad application. It’s catching on a bit in the NFL, but there’s still a gravitational pull to the mediocre middle.

  • ljstonebraker

    I am visiting Seattle from the South Pacific for a couple of weeks. I have an extra ten bucks and am eager to visit the museum.

    • art thiel

      The case is in a hermetically sealed room that turns on sprinklers when the aroma of pineapples is detected.

  • jafabian

    Did he even take a breath? And did he do this all on the fly? All of his press conferences are like this. I don’t know how he does it. Coach Caroll’s biggest asset is his ability to accentuate the positive and he can expound on that for hours. That’s an important quality to have when successfully managing others whether it’s in sports, business or family. He rarely if ever publicly criticizes anyone. At best he’s just blunt if pressed or aggravated. Its no surprise to me how he got this team to succeed as well as it has this season.

    • art thiel

      Those of us who were there are certain it was a single breath.

  • Airplane Driver

    His closing sentence, “It’s great to be a Seahawk” always resonated with me. It showed his gratefulness for the opportunity, like he wasn’t just doing us a favor by being talked into it, he really wanted to be here.
    The other aspect that I’ve come to appreciate is he’s the Seahawks biggest fan. Much like Jimmy Johnson was with the Cowboys, this team is the embodiment of Carroll’s vision and enthusiasm of the game.
    It’s truly is the golden era of Seahawk football…

    • art thiel

      I hope the newbie 12s appreciate that this success follows so much futility.

      • Airplane Driver

        Exactly. The Erickson and Flores years are easily forgettable, but should be the instructive lesson as to how good we have it.