Pete Carroll is beginning to understand how Matt Hasselbeck felt after the Seahawks' abrupt exit from the playoffs after the 2003 season.
Everywhere Carroll has gone since the oh-so-close loss to the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLIX last month, the Seahawks' sixth-year coach is asked about moving on from his team coming up a yard shy of winning the NFL title for the second consecutive season.
"Those kinds of occurrences? They don't go away. They don't go away," Carroll told the NFL Network on Monday during an interview at the NFL owners meetings in Arizona – site of the Seahawks' 28-24 loss to the Patriots on Feb. 1.
"You just put them somewhere so you can manage them properly. It's back there."
Hasselbeck knows the feeling. It was in a wild-card playoff game against the Packers in Green Bay after the 2003 season that the Seahawks won the coin toss before the overtime period and the team's quarterback uttered his now-infamous line: "We want the ball, we're going to score."
The Seahawks didn't, as a Hasselbeck pass was intercepted and returned for the game-winning touchdown. And Hasselbeck didn't, either – escape the fallout from that game and how it ended, that is.
That was never more apparent than during his flight to Honolulu for the Pro Bowl a few weeks later.
"That's all I get, 'Oh, you're that guy,' " Hasselbeck told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer after a Pro Bowl practice in 2004. "I'm on the flight over here and people are saying that to me and giving me that look. It's been crazy."
Now, it's Carroll's turn to experience the craziness. But, as Hasselbeck did in picking up himself and his team after that pick six, Carroll will survive and thrive.
"I'm fueled by it and I always have been, and there's a big part of me that doesn't want to let it go," Carroll said. "I want to make sure that I'm always with it, I always know what happened so I can learn from it."
Quarterback Russell Wilson, whose second-down pass from the 1-yard line was intercepted by Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler, also is using the play as motivation.
"He thinks of it every day. He told me that: Every day it comes to mind," Carroll said. "The impact of these games are lifelong, one way or the other. I can only imagine what it was like to be the Buffalo Bills (who lost four consecutive Super Bowls in the early 1990s). I don't know how that would have been for them. Not just once, but four times in a row, for years and years and years and years to have to deal with that. I can't even fathom that and I'm not going to – that's not going to happen.
"Russell has taken it extremely hard, just because of the competitor he is, and I would expect nothing less."
And Wilson has to look no farther than Hasselbeck after his 2003 disappointment for motivation. In 2005, Hasselbeck quarterbacked the Seahawks to their first postseason victory since 1984 in leading them to the franchise's first Super Bowl appearance.
"If I could change anything, we would have scored," Hasselbeck said at the time. "Would I do it again? Probably not. But do I believe it 100 percent, and do I believe in our ability to score on pretty much anybody now? I do."