It's sort of odd being a kid growing up on the East Coast rooting for an NFL team that is farthest away from me. My Seattle Seahawks fandom emerged when I discovered who Shaun Alexander was. 19 years ago at the age of 7, I didn't really know much about football or how it worked. Sure, I played it with my friends, and even took place in flag football. But, I remember watching Shaun Alexander on television and wanting to be just like him.
Primarily, because he made it look so easy. While I did not become a professional running back in the NFL or anything relatively close to that, my love for the Seahawks stuck with me and only grew from that moment. Ironically, around the same time my love affair began with the Seahawks, I was made aware of who Pete Carroll was.
The 2006 Rose Bowl featured the Texas Longhorns and USC Trojans. I was just rooting for the team whose colors I liked best, the ones wearing burnt orange and white. Little did I know the head coach of the opposing team would be one I would go on to admire for a decade plus in my life.
Thank you, Coach Carroll for the last 14 seasons
When Pete Carroll was hired by the Seattle Seahawks in 2010, I was 12 years old. So, as you can imagine, I didn't really have much of an expectation because I was happy if they just won a single game. I didn't know any better. But, it's funny looking back at that season now, because it really encapsulates who Pete Carroll is and the magic that he was about to sprinkle across this franchise.
I truly don't remember much about that regular season except for the fact that Matt Hasselbeck got hurt towards the end (if I remember correctly, it was a hand injury) and the Seahawks would be on Sunday Night Football against the then St. Louis Rams in Week 17 with the winner taking the NFC West crown. Like every other Sunday growing up, I was at my grandma's house for dinner watching football. I remember being so excited to go home because the Seahawks were finally going to be on national television.
What took place from that moment on was a team that was doubted, questioned, and even ridiculed for being in the playoffs to shocking the world in the Wild Card round. Led by a passionate head coach who had returned to the NFL with a vice, the Seahawks upset the defending Super Bowl Champions, the New Orleans Saints, on the historic Marshawn Lynch run.
It's interesting thinking back to that moment. I watched that game thinking there was no way the Seahawks could lose. In essence, because I was a young fan who thought my team should win every game. But, as I got older and understood the game more, that belief never left me. It was only heightened because of what Coach Carroll continually did with the Seahawks.
At every turn when he was doubted, he didn't waver. When the Seahawks got graded an F for the 2012 Draft Class, he kept shooting hoops hoping his vision would come to fruition. He turned that group into world champions, helping the Seattle Seahawks capture their first Vince Lombardi Trophy in franchise history. Even when things didn't go his way, losing to the Patriots in Super Bowl XLIV, the Russell Wilson drama, and people saying the game passed him by, he continually found ways to win.
Sometimes as a fan, you can take a coach or player for granted. When they continually win games year after year, the expectation is Super Bowl or bust. But, when you look around at the franchises that have had sustained coaching, there aren't many. Outside of New England, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, and Seattle, there has been a lot of coaching turnover. Even those who have found success have been shown the door because it is extremely difficult to get players to buy into your message year in and year out.
But, that is where Coach Carroll is different. He was unique in his own way and understood that is what helped him accomplish great things at USC. His uniqueness allowed him to unlock the uniqueness in his own players, helping them reach their full potential. It's why he was successfully able to develop so many players over the years. There was a reason everyone wanted to play for Coach Carroll. The culture he established in Seattle will never be duplicated.
Regardless of whether I think the decision was right or not, I'd like to take this time to thank Coach Carroll for an amazing 14-year run. More importantly, to thank him for all the memories he has provided. His vibrant energy will be missed on the sidelines. My mom will no longer be able to ask me, "How many pieces of gum does he chew a game?", but I'll always watch the Seahawks with the joy and belief that he instilled in his teams.
As Coach Carroll would say, something good is about to happen. Truly, one of a kind.
Thank you, Coach.