On the day the day Pete Carroll turned 70, the Seahawks coach did what he has done every other day since taking over the job more than a decade ago. He ran around the practice field full of energy, coaching with a smile on his face while looking like anything but the oldest head coach in the NFL.
"When you see him on the field, he doesn't look it," linebacker Bobby Wagner said of a man who at 70 is still known to cruise the halls of the VMAC on a Razor scooter. "He has a lot of energy, always positive. It's fun to watch. Hopefully when I'm 70 I'm still running around and moving the way he's doing."
When Carroll's birthday was brought up during his usual Wednesday press conference, he first expressed gratitude for the time he has had in Seattle, but then he turned his attention to the world outside of football.
"How does (70) feel? I feel great," he said. "I'm really grateful and appreciate where we are right now in this opportunity to be here, work with this franchise for the Allen family and their support, for the fans that we love to deal with. Everything about what we are doing here is really just as good as I could hope, so I'm so grateful for that and I'm lucky to have been found here. I think I've said it to you guys, but people used to say, 'Why did you come here?' And I didn't know at the time really, but now I do know, this is an amazing place to work and to represent, and I'm very grateful for it."
While Carroll personally feels great, he is also concerned about the divisiveness he sees in the world, but always the optimist, he also sees better times ahead.
"My heart is broken in so many ways about what is going on around us," he said. "There's so much discontent with the way things are going, but I--and this isn't going to surprise you--I think it's turning. I think as hard as times have been and as difficult as it's been, we have been through so much, been exposed to so much hardship and so much discontent, I it's ready to go, I think it's ready to turn. I don't think we need to go any lower to get going again. And I'm thrilled to be here in this situation to watch it happen, contribute to it, hopefully help our guys find a way that they can help in their areas of influence to do good stuff. Because what's going to turn us in a better way is we are going to love the people around us better than we do, and we're going to appreciate the people that are different from us better than we do.
"I think it's coming, it couldn't get any darker in terms of people griping at one another and having all of the discomfort that we feel, but yet there's more people that want to do good stuff, there's more people that want to see people be taken care of and looked after until they can get on their own feet and get their own thing done. Difference is the thing that keeps coming up, and I don't see it, personally. We should love the fact that people are different and are uniquely from different backgrounds, and different outlooks, and perspectives. Let that challenge us to understand them more and appreciate the uniqueness that they bring. You've heard me talk about the uniqueness of our players for years and how we celebrate that, well that's not just football, I just hope that we are going to watch this turn and we are going to be able to contribute to it. Looking back, I'm saying this because I'm older than everybody, so I get to say what I want to say. We have a lot of good things to do right now and there's a lot of good people that are fighting their ass off to make good things happen, and there's people that fighting against it, but I think that if we keep a good thought, a good hope, and we really look after the people around us then we are going to do good stuff. I'm really excited about it. I'm appreciative, I'm grateful as hell and all of that, but I'm also jacked up about what could turn. I'm hoping we will all see this thing and it will be really obvious to us. People are going to get well, people are going to get their money back, people are going get their jobs back, get their businesses back, get their lives in order that they want, and I'm looking forward to it."
As optimistic as Carroll is about, well, everything, it might seem like a big leap for some to envision a less divided society right now, but that's not how Carroll sees things.
"I don't think that there's enough people that are trying to drag things down," he said. "I don't think there's enough of them, I think they're too many people that are trying to uplift. I think we are going to outlast them and we're going to outwait them, and it's going to make others join in, and we are going to look after people better than we are, take care of one another better than we are. People that have are going to help people that don't, and we are going to get more powerful. I think our leadership is standing for that even though it isn't always recognized. The President knows what he's doing in terms of passing the right message for the right reasons. He's looking after and he's caring for, and we are going to outlast them, and I'm looking forward to being a part of that."
For Carroll to make a long statement like Wednesday's unprompted is hardly surprising to anyone who has been paying attention in recent years. He's been outspoken for a while now on topics outside of football, particularly in the last year, most notably when he cancelled a practice last summer to let his teammates have long, heart-to-heart conversations in the wake of the murder of George Floyd, then used his press conference to deliver a long speech about racism and the place white people have in combating it.
Carroll is more outspoken now than he was earlier in his coaching career when it comes to social justice topic, but not because his beliefs have changed, but rather because he recognized that he has an obligation to use his platform to speak out against injustices in the world.
"I was always active in what I was trying to contribute to, but it just went too far, we went too far," he said. "I needed to get my act together as everybody else in their own ways can do what they want; I needed to get my act together, I just needed to step up and try to help where I can. Not everybody gets to have a chance to have the influence that they have at a press conference on their birthday. I want to see things go in the right direction, so I'm going to keep hoping and keep driving for it. It is the hope that you have that keeps you fighting. It's when you don't have hope and you're hopeless then you can't. As far as I'm concerned, something good is about to happen."
Wishing a very special 64th birthday to head coach Pete Carroll. Here's a look back at the last 12 months.