Pete Carroll was a bit later than usual arriving to his postgame press conference following the Seahawks' Week 8 win over the New York Giants.
Carroll had a valid excuse however for his tardiness; he was on the phone with legendary Vikings coach Bud Grant, the Hall of Fame coach who hired Carroll back in 1985 following Carroll's one season in Buffalo that ended with an overhaul of the defensive coaching staff. Carroll would go on to spend five seasons in Minnesota, then become the defensive coordinator for the Jets, which in turn led to his first head-coaching gig.
Throughout his career, Carroll has downplayed individual accomplishments, such as when he passed Mike Holmgren to become the winningest coach in Seahawks history in 2018. But following Sunday's 27-13 win over the Giants, Carroll acknowledged that this particular milestone—matching Bud Grant on the all-time wins list with 168, postseason included—was special because it puts his name next to his mentor on that list.
"I did get him on the phone and talk to him here just to kick it around, because I had to try to make it real," Carroll said. "I can't tell you how much I love the guy and how much I've respected him throughout my career and the opportunity that he gave me to get me back in the league—I'd been in the league one year, got fired, got thrown out of it, and he gave me a chance to come back. I don't know why he saw it, but he did. And from that point forward, the relationship that we've had has just been meaningful to me in everything that I've done. It doesn't even make sense to me. I said, 'Could this possibly be?' He said, 'Yeah, it is, it is.' Neither one of us thinks it's that big a deal, but to me it is just because it's Bud."
While Carroll deserves a tremendous amount of credit for leading the Seahawks to their first Super Bowl title and through sustained success that is incredibly rare in the NFL, he also pointed out that it takes great ownership and a great partner in general manager John Schneider to have the kind of longevity he's had in Seattle.
"One of the things that it does state, though, that I'm really proud of is being in this organization for so many years and to have the consistency that we've had to give us a chance to keep coming back—a lot of coaches don't get as many chances as I've had," he said. "To be able to stay in this organization, it's because of the ownership. It goes right back to Paul and Jody (Allen) and what they've done and how they've structured this thing to give us for the consistency and the expectations of the excellence and the standards that we operate by. Jody is doing a magnificent job. I always say this, you don't know well enough what she's like and what she's all about, but she is so, so clear and so powerfully grounded in what it takes to be great for our fans, and that's what she cares about. She wants us to win for the people in the Northwest. She's tough, she's firm, she's having a blast, she's everything. Without that kind of security and support, they'd have thrown me out of here a long time ago. So I feel very indebted to the family and their confidence in Johnny and us having this chance to do this. Everything we did here was with John. Pete and John, right next to each other on this whole thing."
Carroll moves into a tie with his mentor in a season that has seen him do one of the best coaching jobs of his career relative to external expectations about the team. After the Seahawks released Bobby Wagner and traded Russell Wilson, two of the best players in franchise history, most people outside of the organization thought the Seahawks were a rebuilding team that would struggle to win in 2022. Coaches and players never saw it that way, however, and instead of struggling, the Seahawks are 5-3 and in first place in the NFC West. With Geno Smith playing at a Pro-Bowl level to lead one of the NFL's most explosive offenses, a rookie class making massive contributions, and a defense that has turned things around drastically in the past three weeks, the Seahawks are one of the surprises of the NFL this season, and Carroll and Schneider have done some of their best work to get Seattle in this position.
"This is really special," Carroll said. "This is a very special opportunity right now. It's been because of all of the hype and the circumstances and all that and the challenge of it and the doubting and all that kind of stuff. Yeah, I like this challenge. I like this whole thing, I've liked it from the start. We wouldn't be here. But the fact the guys are coming through, it's because of the way they've worked and how they're bringing themselves to work every day and how much they care about it. It's a coach's thrill, it really is. That's all we can hope for. I hate that we were crappy early in the year and we weren't doing stuff right, but we held on to it and we felt like we knew where we could go, and we're getting going. All the people that doubt, like you're losing it—we run the ball too much, you don't understand football and you can't stay up with the new game and all that kind of stuff, that's a bunch of crap, I'm telling you. Look, we're doing fine. We're all right. I don't mind proving it day in and day out."
The next coach on the list for Carroll to try to catch is another Hall of Fame coach, Joe Gibbs, who has 171 total victories. After that is Seahawks Ring of Honor member—and a coach who deserves to be in the Hall of Fame—Mike Holmgren with 174.
Check out the best sights from the sideline and locker room following a 27-13 win over the New York Giants at Lumen Field.