The NFL announced Monday that the Seattle Seahawks will be disciplined for "violating NFL-NFLPA work rules that prohibit excessive contact in all offseason workouts."
The incident in question happened in a June 6 session of Organized Team Activities in which two players "banged heads" in a helmetless practice, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. The Seahawks and Carroll were both fined by the league, the Seahawks forfeit the first week of OTAs next offseason, and the Seahawks also lose their fifth-round pick in the 2017 draft.
Carroll said he was disappointed his team is in this position because he and the coaching staff have worked hard to try to make sure the team was compliant with league and NFLPA rules after offseason workout violations that occurred in previous years.
"I'm really disappointed, because we've worked really hard to try to do a great job," Carroll said. "We have kind of been through this with the league over the years, and after the second time, we made some real big changes in what we did two years ago. As a matter of fact, we went to the point, to control the tempo the way we thought would be really fitting, we took helmets off of our guys. We didn't practice in helmets the entire OTA season, and we learned a lot about how to do that. We had a really good offseason, had no issues at all. We practiced eight or nine weeks last year without helmets on, because we had learned how to do that well.
"We went into this year with all of the alerts to do it well again, and we had an unfortunate day—guys banged heads, and that brought an issue, and the league came and checked it out, and they felt like we were in violation. We're trying to do this really well and trying to be great at it, and I was really disappointed that it came to this, but they have to do what they have to do. We're going to continue to work really hard to do this really well. We practice hard around here and we always have, and we have to do it right. We've made strong efforts to do that, but we're still working at it."
High-tempo, high-energy practices have been the norm for the Seahawks under Carroll, so while the intent was never to break any rules, Carroll says the Seahawks have had issues with finding the right balance between practicing hard and working within the boundaries put in place under the current collective bargaining agreement.
"We always practice really hard around here," Carroll said. "That's something we've done for years, and we try to practice better than anybody else is practicing, so in trying to figure out what the limits of that are, we've gotten in trouble over time."
The league and players' association can randomly send observers to check on teams' offseason workouts, Carroll said, and they can also request video of any practice. The changes Seattle has put in place in recent years, including the removal of helmets to try to control the tempo, have been effective, Carroll said, other than the incident in June for which the team was penalized.
"Those guys have been coming out for the last couple of years and we've had no issues at all," Carroll said. "It's just unfortunate. I've got to do a better job. I've got to make sure we're toeing the line within the standards. It was hard, because we had such a good year last year, and we did it the same way, just with more alerts. We've gone through a lot. At times when a guy has seemed to be overzealous, we've taken him out of practice, we suspended a guy from a practice because of efforts we thought were out of line, stuff like that. But still, we didn't quite meet the standard that they want, so this is what happened… I just have to make sure I do a better job of this. We have to work harder to understand what everybody else is doing and just stay within the lines they think are right."
The Seahawks fall 9-3 in their first road game of the 2016 season against the Los Angeles Rams.