Pete Carroll Had It in Him All Along

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jpegGrowing up, I knew guys with the name Pete. They were unique and peculiar in their own way. There was a kid name Pete, who had a pet dragon, spreading nothing but love and showing generosity. There were Little Pete and Big Pete, two goofy, red-headed brothers who lived in a strange world.

And today, we know a guy who guided his team to Super Bowl XLVIII. His name is Pete Carroll, a 62-year-old who is the second-oldest among NFL head coaches. Quite honestly, after the Seahawks finished the 2013 regular season with a splendid 13-3 record, he’s the architect of a resurgent franchise that was never once favored to capture an NFC West title.

He wasn’t even supposed to last in Seattle. He was supposed to be a head coach who’d virtually miss the playoffs and fail for a third time. He wasn’t supposed to make in the NFL, and critics had the perception that he was mediocre, let alone someone superior who’d make it to the Super Bowl for the first time in his NFL coaching career. He was supposed to go back to college, build a distinctive culture and turn a school into a national power.

But you know what’s truly amazing about all of this? For what it is, Carroll has changed the culture for a pro franchise, and now he is the frontrunner for Coach of the Year honors and will cement his place in Seahawks history with a win on Sunday. For those who doubted Carroll, he is one victory away from claiming a first Lombardi Trophy, and now we’re going to see what these ferocious, stalwart Seahawks are really made of.

For those who doubted this guy, he certainly has a brilliant coaching style and metamorphosed into a true genesis, on the cusp of moving to the next level among NFL coaches if the Seahawks win a Super Bowl four days from now. The Seahawks have developed great chemistry and a congenial locker room, piling up wins and riding an improbable playoff run.

Carroll is an enthusiastic hipster, a winner and a loyalist who has the personality and knack for turning a middling franchise into a perennial NFC West contender. The guy is unquestionably one of the greatest coaches in the history of the franchise, probably of any coach before him if the Seahawks beat the Broncos.

No matter how abominable everyone said he was as an NFL head coach, Carroll’s vast knowledge and coaching strategy has helped the Seahawks return to prominence. The players respect him because he treats them like men, and they admire a lot about him.

He’s cool, laid-back and extremely likable, a man better known for his exuberant, rah-rah coaching style. Quite fittingly, he’s a good friend with Macklemore, winner of four Grammys. Carroll is cool with weed, he’s cool with stoners and potheads. That’s not to say it’s okay to abuse it. What he was getting at was that it is a good idea the league looks into marijuana use to help treat head injuries.

There’s no disputing that Carroll is a freewheeling, fun-loving dude who made Seattle relevant and then came back to the Meadowlands, nearly two decades later, with a chance to celebrate in a town where he failed to reach a level of success. Fired after one season with the Jets in 1994, Carroll lost his final five games to finish 6-10, took a hiatus from football, and then went to Southern California where he built a national power. He won two national titles during an astonishing nine-year run at the university and became an ambassador, then left when he saw the opportunity to coach in the NFL again.

When he arrived to Seattle, shortly before the NCAA imposed sanctions on USC, Carroll revolutionized and turned the Seahawks around by rebuilding the team his way and getting rid of old players who were taking up much salary cap. And now, after watching Carroll every game clap endlessly, cheer frantically and fire up his players, he’s showing that he can translate greatness to the pros.

As we’ve heard continuously, he blasts music during practices, challenges his players to a basketball shoot-around and tells practical jokes in the locker room. This moment had been a long time coming, and when he finally came back to coach in the NFL, he flourished and won game after game. Much hasn’t changed, even when he’s donning blue and green Seahawks sweatshirts. From what I see, he still looks like a cheerleader and knows how to motivate his players.

NFC Championship - San Francisco 49ers v Seattle Seahawks

Maybe now that he’s in the Super Bowl, Carroll will join Jimmy Johnson and Barry Switzer as the only head coaches to win both a Super Bowl and the college national championship. By Carroll’s design, the Seahawks have a team that is better suited to win the Lombardi Trophy. These Seahawks have a secondary that plays with speed, vigor and physicality, a top-ranked defense that demands respect from the minds of disbelievers.

Carroll can prove that once and for all against the Broncos that he belongs among the elite of NFL coaches. He made strides since he’s taken over in Seattle, learned from his failures in the past and succeeded beyond all expectations. There’s not one player who wouldn’t mind playing for him, and why not? He knows his Xs and Os, and greater than ever, he’s a winner and a master builder. He set the standards and expects his players to give it their best effort and work diligently on every single play in practice.

This Seahawks team, like never before, is menacing and explosive, and Carroll’s methods are stable and innovative. In four seasons with the Seahawks, Carroll has gone from seven wins (twice), to 13 wins and the Super Bowl. And yes, everyone was quick to say he was a failure. He’s not a failure. He was never given a chance to prove that he could evolve into a big-time coach.

It is cool to play for a coach who builds confidence and uplifts the mood. It is cool to see Carroll try it again, and finally make it this far. It is cool to see a guy in his 60s going on 30.

For all of Carroll’s greatness, here’s hoping he comes out on top when it’s all said and done. He knows a Super Bowl victory reflects on his greatness. So now, he’s stoked and fired up, after finally proving each and every one wrong.

Whoever thought?

It’s not a mirage, folks. Carroll and his Seahawks are in New Jersey for Sunday’s championship.

The first couple of times he didn’t succeed, so he tried, tried again.

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