Carroll credits Irvin for setting Seattle straight

JERSEY CITY, N.J. (AP) Pete Carroll said Wednesday it was the suspension of linebacker Bruce Irvin last spring that finally got the attention of the rest of the Seattle Seahawks that they needed to be taking their commitment to the team more seriously.

Seattle’s past problems with drug suspensions – both performance-enhancing and substance abuse – were brought up again and Carroll was expansive, going back to Irvin’s PED suspension last May as a turning point for the team.

”When that came to light, and the way Bruce addressed it and handled it with us and our football team, it set us in a new mode, in a new mentality,” Carroll said. ”I found that we were a very young team, with young minds, and guys that needed to formulate the plan, how it all fits together, and the best way we could do that is to gather the power that they represent us – everybody represents the Seahawks.”

Born out of the situation with Irvin was the motto ”Seahawks 24/7” that became a team slogan and was plastered on t-shirts worn around the locker room all season. It was a nod to Carroll’s young team realizing they had to be responsible and accountable off the field as much as they are in the confines of the locker room.

”We realized that we had a tremendous commitment to what we were doing on the field, and that we needed to embrace that we needed that commitment to extend off the field as well, in all areas,” Carroll said. ”Like any team comes together on different issues, this was an issue, and I think Bruce was a great starter to the new mentality that we’ve developed, about taking care of business, about always representing, about having a conscious that never leaves us, whether we’re on the field, off the field, in-season, or out of season.”

Seattle drew attention in recent seasons for the number of suspensions, most of them for performance-enhancing substances. In total, seven Seattle players have been suspended for PED or substance violations since 2011. That total does not include All-Pro Richard Sherman, who was suspended late in the 2012 season but had his suspension overturned on an appeal.

Even with the new focus, the Seahawks still had problems this season. Cornerback Walter Thurmond was suspended for four games in late November for violating the substance abuse policy and cornerback Brandon Browner was given a one-year suspension for a substance abuse violation in December.

”When we’ve had anybody who has strayed, or had an issue, or whatever, it came to the point where we really felt compassion for the guys that couldn’t hang with us in the commitment that we made,” Carroll said. ”So, I think it’s become very strong from inside-out, from inside right in the middle of the locker room on out, and I think that we’re on a really good path. I think it’s a good illustration of what it takes to get everybody committed and everybody on the same page, and I think the commitment to our football and the commitment to the Seahawks is pretty clear right now.”

AP NFL website: