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Seahawks Coach Pete Carroll: Playing Multiple Sports Is "Vitally Important" For NFL Hopefuls

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll explains why he so strongly values multi-sport athletes.


INDIANAPOLIS—When the Seahawks interview draft prospects at the NFL scouting combine, Pete Carroll loves one topic above just about any other.

Xs and Ox? He'll get to that eventually, or let one of his assistant coaches cover that. The ups and downs of that player's college career? Sure, they'll cover that too. But often times before any of that comes up, what the winningest coach in Seahawks history really wants to know is this: what sports did you play other than football, and how did you do in that sport?

"It's one of the first things I'm interested in," Carroll said Tuesday, lighting up when a reporter asked about the importance of playing multiple sports. "I want to hear the guy's story, where he came from through his sports experience. And I'm just always asking those questions and digging into that."

Sure, those stats you put up in college were impressive, but if you really want to wow Carroll, tell him about your best high jump mark or 100-meter dash time, or explain to him how you led your team in rebounds as a senior. For Carroll, and plenty of other people with similar views on playing multiple sports—and on the negatives of specializing early in one sport—the value of those different experiences vastly outweighs whatever might be gained by focusing on football year round. For starters, there are athletic traits that can translate well to football. A basketball or soccer player will likely have better footwork than someone who never played either sport. A baseball player, and an outfielder in particular, probably tracks the ball very well, a big plus for receivers and defensive backs. Or an accomplished wrestler will have an extra skillset and whole different level of toughness when it comes to playing in the trenches.

"I feel like it gives me an insight to the makeup and the background and the expanse of his experience and what that might bring to us," Carroll said. "So it's always been crucially important to me. I don't hear other guys asking all those questions as much as I know I do. Maybe guys get worn out by it, but I want to know what position he played in Little League, and what happened, and how's that go. What kind of a guard were you in when you're playing hoops? Or were you a slasher or an assists guy. I want to know all that stuff. Did you play center field or not? I want to know those things, because they give me insights to guys. It's one of the reasons that I despise the fact that guys don't play multiple sports in high school. So many of our guys will say, 'Hey, what'd you play?' 'I played basketball until ninth grade.'"

The way Carroll sees it, missing that extra time on the basketball court or baseball diamond or on the track is costly not just for the athletic development, but also because all of those games or track meets or wrestling matches are more chances for a competitor to hone that skill.

"It kills me—they stopped playing and missed all of those competitive opportunities," Carroll said. "Those locker rooms and those meetings and those challenges, and those last minutes, and all of those things that make up the character of what a competitor is. So it's vitally important to me."

The Pacific Northwest's finest athletes gathered at Seattle's Westin Hotel for the 88th Annual Seattle Sports Star of the Year Awards, where Seahawks Legends Doug Baldwin Jr. and K.J. Wright, as well as Seahawks sideline reporter Jen Mueller, took home honors.

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