Former USC and NFL running back Joe McKnight was shot and killed in New Orleans on Thursday, a tragedy that hit close to home for Seahawks coach Pete Carroll who recruited McKnight to USC and coached him for three seasons.
"It's a real tragedy for a young man," Carroll said Friday. "All of us that knew Joey and brought him on when we recruited him and had him through the program, and all the things we did together, he was a very special kid. He had some special difficulties coming along, growing up and all that we all knew about it. We just regarded the guy that he was, knowing the course that he went, that he had traveled. For us to lose Joe, it just hurts everybody. I talked to a lot of people, and it heard from all kinds of people, and everybody felt exactly the same, they just felt so bad. He had a great heart, he was a great kid, he was fun to be around, fun loving, but you just knew he had a lot of stuff to overcome and he was making it. He was overcoming stuff and he had a bit of a pro career and all that, and unfortunately this happens. We're going to miss him greatly."
Carroll had talked to McKnight on the phone recently while McKnight was back in Southern California.
"I talked to Joey about three weeks ago, trying to help him with something," Carroll said. "I just felt terrible with this news that I wasn't able to do something that might have kept him in California. He was in Pasadena at the time, and it just personally hit me that I wasn't able to do something that might have made a difference to keep him away from where he was. I know a couple other guys I heard from were also working with Joe and doing some stuff with him, trying to helping him with a job and things like that that he was looking forward to. Just none of us were able to pull it off. I just feel an extra connection to it."
Seahawks linebacker Mike Morgan was teammates with McKnight for three seasons at USC.
"It's a tough situation, man," Morgan said. "I'm just praying for his family and his son—he has a kid. It's just a senseless act. I can't understand how someone would want to take somebody else's life. I don't know what happened, but it's just unfortunate. It's tough. Our whole Trojan family is mourning."
The Seahawks and the Panthers have faced off 12 times, including three postseason matchups. The Seahawks currently own eight wins in the series and will play the Panthers again this Sunday in Week 12 of the 2018 NFL season.