BY Art Thiel 06:06PM 08/03/2020

Thiel: ‘We were too soft’ on virus, says Carroll

Seahawks have had no COVID-19 positive tests. On the negative side was Pete Carroll’s view of the failing response to the virus: “We had to let up and find excuses.”

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said Monday, “If I get the virus, I’m going to kick its ass.” / Art Thiel, Sportspress Northwest

Credit the Seahawks for open-field elusiveness: They are one of six NFL teams without a positive test so far for COVID-19 at “training camp,” which for the first week was little about training and a lot about hiding out in quarantine.

The first week was all but perfect for us,” said coach Pete Carroll.

He was not nearly as pleased with the rest of the country.

On a Zoom conference with reporters, he delivered an unusually frank and despairing assessment of the U.S. failure to contain the spread, which White House coronavirus task force coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx described to CNN Sunday as, “What we are seeing today is different from March and April. It is extraordinarily widespread.”

Sounding like a football coach behind at halftime, Carroll laid into the failing response.

“I’m so disappointed that that we weren’t tough nationally,” he said. “We weren’t tough enough. We were we’re too soft on it and we couldn’t hang.  We had to let up, and find excuses for not maintaining the discipline that it takes to beat this thing back.

“I’m hoping in our program here, we can set an example.”

As always, Carroll, who at 68 is in the demographic cohort most vulnerable, turned the demands of testing, social distancing and mask-wearing, into a kind of competition that can be won.

“It ain’t easy to put up with all the discomfort and the newness and the nuances,” he said. “I felt like I better get my act together. I better be really good at this, so that’s what I’ve tried to be . . . I don’t think it would surprise you that I’m competing my butt off to to do this well.

“As far as being however old I am, I’ve taken it as a personal challenge. If I happen to get this, I’m gonna kick its ass. If I don’t, it’s gonna be because I was able to find a way to luck my way through it.”

Two of his NFL coaching colleagues have had the virus — the Saints’ Sean Payton and the Eagles’ Doug Pederson, the latter diagnosed over the weekend. The seriousness has not escaped him.

“My wife and I, we’ve dug in and spent this entire time studying every aspect of this thing,” he said. “Every way that we can assist, knowing the responsibility that we bear for everybody, we’re trying to guide and lead, and make choices.”

Someone needs to do it. Abdication by the White House of its leadership responsibilities has led to confusion and organizational decay down the chain of government command. But the spread also comes down to personal responsibility.

“Really disappointed when when it kind of went south on (Washington state),” he said.  “We didn’t really stay with it, because our state made a great turnaround from an initial shocking ground-zero story (the nation’s first outbreak was in February at a nursing home in Kirkland, 12 miles from Seahawks headquarters in Renton). We lost our edge a little bit here.

“Honestly, I think it’s about mental toughness. it’s about being freaking tough, because this ain’t easy. You gotta be hard on yourself; you gotta give up things you would normally do. I’m no different than anybody else in that regard.”

Had we heard that sort of blunt coaching six months ago from the administration, we might be on the downside of the infection curve, instead of setting elevation records. The return route for sports would be far less fraught.

The sports that chose to return via fan-free bubbles seem, for now, less imperiled operationally. The NFL and MLB are the only major pro sports to permit travel and living at home for players and staff. And is not working out so well in baseball. The St. Louis Cardinals  became the latest team to be shut down temporarily, with seven players and six staffers testing positive.

The NFL catches a break with its infrequency of games, a culture more prone to following orders, and the bad example being provided by baseball.

“This is a very treacherous thing everybody’s dealing with,” Carroll said.
“We’ve got to hopefully have good fortune along the way, as well as great discipline.

“I don’t know how it’s gonna turn out. But I hope we set a great example of what it takes to do this, and that six months from now we’re still gonna be involved with this season.”

Given the gloomy outlook in early August, that seems like another Carrollian burst of optimism from which eyes must be shaded. Then again, this was a guy who in 2019 coached his team to wins in 10 games decided by one score or less, tying an NFL record.

If he says he will kick the virus’s ass, the bookies have to make him even money.




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  • James

    There you go again with the “Trump incompetence” misdirection. His lack of action is a deliberate strategy. He sees coronavirus as a positive thing because it is affecting blacks and latinos more so than whites. He believes it hits liberal cities more than his conservative rural base, another reason to let it rage. He would rather sacrifice American lives than temporarily shut down businesses which he sees as a threat to his re-election chances. A pandemic gives him cover to close borders to immigrants. And he sees the virus as a way to keep democrats away from polling places for fear of wanting to contract it, (see voting by mail is fraud, and hindering the USPS.

    • art thiel

      I’m not going to play the whole Trump album on a sports site. When songs intersect with sports, I listen. Please don’t disrupt the concert.

      • Husky73

        “There’s somethin’ happenin’ here. What it is ain’t exactly clear. There’s a man with a gun over there. Tellin’ me I’ve got to beware.”

        • SeattleSince57

          There’s battle lines being drawn,
          Nobody’s right, when everbody’s wrong

          • Neal Sartain

            it starts when your’re always afraid

      • DB

        Paranoia strikes deep, Into your life it will creep.
        -Maybe after our scientists come up with a vaccine for the virus they can do something to help the folks with Trump Derangement Syndrome…

        • art thiel

          I think a vaccine is possible around Nov. 3.

  • jafabian

    Things could all change for the Hawks if a starter opts out. Picture if DangeRuss opted out. And with a young family it could very well be a valid option for him.

    • BB46

      Seems to be shaping up to be a strange year. If the NFL season starts I’m not sure it gets all the way to the finish. I have no confidence in any sports season to start or finish. HS, College, Pro,,, A real strange year.

      • art thiel

        The strangest ever. At least our war shutdowns were for conflicts overseas.

      • jafabian

        I’m predicting this season will pretty much be an exhibition season.

    • art thiel

      As with every team. That’s why Pete wants to “win” at health protocols. He wants the org to do everything possible to allay fears, especially among newcomers, and avoid the opt-outs unless circumstances are significant.

  • tor5

    Gotta love Pete. Whatever happens with football, I’ll be interested to see if he can coach the Hawks through this, maintaining a responsible team mindset. I have frequent conversations with my best friend’s mom, now 96. Whenever I express woe about this pandemic, she describes her WWII experiences. That sure snaps me out of my self-pity. I mean, all we gotta do is wear a freaking mask and have a modicum of common purpose. If only we had a President Pete.

    • art thiel

      I wish there were more folks around who lived through WWII to tell us what sacrifice looks like. But the info is a google search away, should anyone care to be proven wrong about not using masks.

      • Husky73

        FDR defeated the Great Depression, Hitler and Tojo. Trump is defeating the Constitution, the American people and the economy. Never in the past 75 years has America been at a lower ebb both at home and in the eyes of those around the world.

        • art thiel

          Wish I could argue.