Pete Carroll's coaching redemption complete with Seahawks' title
Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll studies his failures and achieves ultimate success with Super Bowl win.
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll celebrates with the Vince Lombardi Trophy.
Kevin C. Cox / Getty Images North America
By Jen Floyd EngelEAST RUTHERFORD, N.J.
All week, we were treated to legacy talk -- most notably, what impact winning or losing had on Peyton Manning's.
Win, and he is The GOAT.
Lose, and he is The Duck incapable of winning big games
Except Sunday's Super Butt Kicking was not about Peyton, no matter how much sports talking is devoted to convincing y'all otherwise. He is a great quarterback, probably top 10 of all time, who had a bad game.
OK, Super Bowl XLVIII was a remarkably awful game.
There were a lot of variables involved in this 43-8 blowout that Peyton had zero control over and thereby need not necessarily reflect on his legacy. Start with Seattle's defense just junk-punching this game from the jump, Denver's offensive line taking on water, Percy Harvin, punting-white flagging John Fox and, yes, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll.
I daresay mostly Pete Carroll.
This is his defense, his cast of characters, a team crafted in his image, coached in his way. And this was his moment where his redemption became permanent and final and delicious.
"For him to do it on his own terms," Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn noted, "absolutely matters."
Why I like Carroll and this victory is because he represents everyone who has been told their way is fatally flawed, their failure is final, that they are not good enough, that they have to conform, fit in, be like everybody else -- more hard-ass footbally, more pretty, or whatever more that takes for them.
Pete Carroll's story, of twice being fired by this league, has been told so many times that we have been dulled to how painful it was to be dismissed as a coaching failure. He, himself, referred to this merely as getting his butt kicked this Super Bowl week.
He had redemption, of course, at USC and in Seattle with how his team played last year and this. Carroll told me that redemption had come long before Sunday for him, and maybe it had. What the ring does is force everybody to recognize this redemptive turn.
This is not simply about him, this is about proving his way has validity too. And you are damn right that matters to him.
The lesson in Pete Carroll is how closely he studied his failure. He gleaned from his worst moments what needed tweaking and what absolutely had to stay because that was his truth. So he kept his smile, his laid-back attitude, his love of players, his unwillingness to lose his s--- on them. And this works.
"Because it's real," Seahawks general manager John Schneider said, "because it's not fake, because it's not from a book. It is him and who he is."
What his players believe is Carroll's failure helped him see value in them. They are misfits, really, guys who fell in the draft or were not drafted all. Their roster is filled with too(s) — too short, too mouthy, too young, too inexperienced. And in this, Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin believes, Carroll saw a little bit of himself.
"He applies the chips," Baldwin said.
Carroll has his fingerprints on just about everything that worked so well for Seattle on Sunday. He stayed with Harvin long after most, keeping the receiver on this roster despite a hip injury that sidelined him all season. And when Carroll had to make a decision, he went to Harvin.
PC: We need a decision.
PH: Don't give up on me.
PC: OK, then you're on our playoff roster.
And when I asked him why a couple of weeks ago, Carroll almost exactly predicted the kind of plays we saw in the Super Bowl. He has a way of doing this.
While most of the NFL saw a cantankerous bust in running back Marshawn Lynch, PC saw a unique talent. He lets him do him, and Richard Sherman be himself. Because a lot of coaches would tell Sherman to dial it back or just shut up. They would want him to act like a football player and not talk trash and not do all the things that fire him up and make him so good.
This is not to be confused with getting walked on, or being soft, which is usually viewed as a byproduct of being a players coach. He has come-to-Jesuses with his players, had one after yet another PED bust in May and with Sherman after his post-NFC Championship Game interview. But they are conversations, and he makes it clear he is being a stand for their greatness.
This is Carroll's legacy. Because if anybody's legacy changed on Sunday, it was his.