Wishing a very special 64th birthday to head coach Pete Carroll. Here's a look back at the last 12 months.
At an age where most are contemplating retirement, or are already there, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll remains as youthful as ever, running from drill to drill in practice, throwing a ball around each day, and even occasionally jumping into a drill to playfully cover a receiver.
So while the calendar says Carroll turns a year older today, to his team he remains one of the youngest coaches in football. It's why defensive end Michael Bennett playfully compared Carroll to Willy Wonka during a radio interview during the offseason, telling Portland's 750 The Game, "He's crazy. He wants to be young. He just is one of those guys who's always upbeat, wants to have a good time, and lets you be yourself."
The last part of Bennett's description, letting players be themselves, might be an even more important trait than Carroll's youthfulness, or as he once said his wife Glena describes it, his zeal. Actually, Carroll doesn't so much let players be themselves as much as he does strongly encourage it.
"It's a trust factor," is how middle linebacker Bobby Wagner described it before Super Bowl XLVIII. "You've got to earn that trust, you've got to build that trust. Once you build that trust and earn it, he allows you to be yourself and do certain things because he trusts you. So it's kind of that trust factor. He trusts us and we trust him."
Celebrating a player's individuality doesn't mean a lack of discipline, it means doing everything possible to help each player be the best he can be. By letting his players be characters, while also being one himself, Carroll has enjoyed a very successful tenure in Seattle, earning three NFC West titles, four playoff berths, two NFC championships, and most importantly, the first Super Bowl victory in franchise history.
Before coaching his first game as the Seahawks head coach, Carroll said one thing he was out to prove was that it's possible to "have fun coaching football at this level and still compete like crazy and win." In Carroll's world, fun and discipline have never been mutually exclusive ideals, and the results have been the most successful run in franchise history.
"It has become what we hoped it could become," Carroll said of his time in Seattle so far. "What we thought could happen, and the reason for coming here, was to do our system, find a bunch of guys who love to play the game, put them together and make a real team out of it, and see how far that would take us in this day and age. I couldn't be more pleased with how things have gone and the way we've been able to mix with our fans and find such an extraordinary fan base to enjoy this with us. The support they've given us has been an amazing opportunity coming alive."
Carroll's "amazing opportunity" is now in its sixth season, but Seattle's forever-young coach is as enthusiastic and full of zeal as he was on the day he was hired, so happy birthday, Coach Carroll.