EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Seahawks center Max Unger has gone up to his coach's office and been stunned by what he hears. Snoop Dogg. Or The Doors. Or James Brown.
Pete Carroll is 62 years old. And as hip as his 22-year-old ballplayers.
“He's just out there,” said Unger. “He's awesome. A very positive coach. Obviously the emphasis on competition is first and foremost, but he does an awesome job.”
Here's how awesome. With a victory Sunday night against the Broncos in Super Bowl 48, Carroll can join Jimmy Johnson and Barry Switzer as the only head coaches with both a college national championship and a Super Bowl title.
Carroll revived the Southern Cal program into a national power and hasn't changed his stripes since going to the Seahawks. He's still a player's coach deluxe. Carroll has had the likes of Will Farrell and rap star Macklemore speak to the Seahawks.
“It's really fun playing for Coach Carroll because he's a players' coach,” said Seattle receiver Golden Tate. “He wants to cater to his players. It's kind of hard to have a bad day with Coach Carroll because every day you show up he's going to bring something new to the table, whether it's a funny video ... you get out on the field, he's 62, 63 years old with receiver gloves on the whole practice, throwing the ball 50, 60 yards. You never know, he might be standing next to you in the huddle as you're calling the play. He's totally in the loop.”
And from where did Carroll learn to be so cool? Would you believe Bud Grant?
Perhaps the most stoic coach in NFL history, Grant led the Vikings from 1967-83, plus 1985, with a reputation as a stern, cold, calculating coach. But on his last Minnesota staff, in 1985, was a young Pete Carroll.
“Bud is an amazing man,” Carroll said. “His confidence that he exudes going with what he believes in his gut was extraordinary to me, to see the calm and the commitment that he had to do what he felt was right in his mind. He didn't care what anybody else thought and he was really clear about how he expressed that.
“I thought it was empowering to know that when you get to a certain part in your life and in your coaching career you can have a really strong, solid opinion whether everybody agrees with it or not or if they like your choices. What's right is what you know is right at the time. He talked that way and he taught me that. He lived that way.”
So Carroll holds strong to his beliefs, be it coaching the glamour of Southern Cal in college or the tucked-in-the-corner-of-the-country Seahawks in the NFL. And it's working famously. The Seahawks are 42-28 in four seasons under Carroll.
“We have fun,” said Seattle fullback Michael Robinson. “It's fun. With the facts of salary caps and things like that, you understand that everybody can't get paid, everybody can't get the big mega deals that they want, so I think the Seahawks, Pete and John (Schneider, general manager) understand that there has to be more there to attract the player. It's almost like recruiting again.
“When players come and visit the Seattle Seahawks, they see how much fun we have and how much we just enjoy competing and enjoy our work. You can see the philosophy in all facets all over the building. You don't mind taking a little less to come here so you can be a part of something special.”