A Love Letter to Coach Carroll

He saw it in me before anyone else—the ability to be a shutdown corner—when I was still in high school. But even though I didn't wind up playing for Pete Carroll at USC, I'm sure glad I am now. If you're looking for reasons the Seahawks are in the Super Bowl, start with him. And it's not just his game plans, either

By
Richard Sherman
· More from Richard·
(Charles Rex Arbogast/AP)
(Charles Rex Arbogast/AP)

I was a high school junior when I first met him. I got pulled out of class unexpectedly to see him waiting in the hallway—Pete Carroll, national championship-winning head coach. We stood and talked there by the lockers for a few minutes. I’ll never forget that—USC’s head coach coming to recruit me at Dominguez High School in Compton in 2004. At the time, it was one of the coolest experiences of my life. 

He said, “you’ve got the perfect size to be a lock-up corner.” I’d never heard that before: “lock-up” corner. I made ‘lockup2006’ my email address and used it until I got to college. I didn’t end up going to USC, because my mind was already made up to go to Stanford, and there was no way I was passing up the opportunity to get a Stanford education, but I could tell then there was something that separated Carroll from others coaches who recruited me. You could feel the positive energy, how upbeat he was and how much he believed in what he was saying. He had a different aura to him.

He had some football smarts too. He knew I’d end up being a corner even though I went to Stanford to play wide receiver. Years later, after a position switch halfway through my career, he drafted me in the fifth round in 2011 as part of his second draft class. At Stanford we’d beaten USC before he left for Seattle, and one of the first things he told me was, “you’ve got one strike against you already.”

I can’t imagine what life in the NFL would be like for me if he hadn’t used a third-day pick on a still-raw cornerback. I get texts from guys across the league which remind me how good we’ve got it in Seattle. They ask, “Is he really as cool as he seems?” and “I hear you guys have fun at practice?” Yes and yes. All he asks is that we be ourselves and protect the team’s reputation by not saying anything controversial.

I haven’t exactly earned straight A’s in the latter department lately, but he sees it as a learning experience, just like the games. He finds the positives when we lose, in addition to the things we can improve on. I’ve never been on a team where the coaching staff was so positive. There isn’t a lot of yelling and cursing at players. There’s no talking down to players. It’s about conversations, not aggression.

That’s why he can roll into the worst neighborhoods in Los Angeles with his foundation and actually negotiate peace between rival gangs. That actually happens, because Pete Carroll can go anywhere he wants in Southern California. In the offseason he spends a large amount of time and energy into providing a way out of gang life for the children of inner-city L.A.

Why? Why would he continue philanthropy in Los Angeles while he has no professional ties to the city? It’s not like it’s helping him recruit anymore. Whatever his motivation, it’s pure.

But he’s not coaching in the Super Bowl because he’s a nice guy. He’s here because he’s pulling off the most unique philosophy in football. Think about it. We use a power running game and press coverage—the oldest of the old school. Yet we have specialized doctors who monitor us for concussion symptoms and wrist wear that helps the team track our sleep patterns. The same coach who shows us clips of Lester Hayes and Mike Haynes playing press-man 30 years ago wants to know if we’re getting our proper REM sleep (and, in case you’re wondering, the sleep science has paid off for several guys). 

Here’s a guy who’s been through everything, even getting fired twice as an NFL head coach, and he has a sense of humor about it. He’ll tell self-deprecating stories that begin, “I coached for the Jets a million years ago and they kicked me out of there before I could even get the shirt on.” And you’re thinking, Man, I don’t know if I would be able tell that story

But that’s coach. He never changes. Even this week, practice is just like it was back home because we’ve been playing championship football for him for 22 weeks now. And before that, when he finished 7-9 two seasons in a row in 2010 and 2011, coach Carroll stayed true to himself and the things he believed in, because it was finally his chance to do things his way. For a guy to come up with a philosophy and stick by it through good and bad, you’ve got to tip your hat to that.

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271 comments
ScottYoung2
ScottYoung2

So exactly what violations did the NCAA charge Pete Carroll with or find him responsible for? No, please, list them for me. And if you answer Reggie Bush you are completely ignorant of the entire topic. The truth is there wasn't anything Carroll or USC could have done regarding what happened with Bush. Even the lunch mob that is sports media is recognizing that fact now. You all are just parroting misinformation.

peterbuilt
peterbuilt

USC?  PED's?  Super Bowl Champions; 43 to 8 and it wasn't that close.  Losers point out the flaws in people they don't know and blame those people for being successful.  All men fall short, they are but men.  The petty man, relishes a winners mistakes and miscues, refuses to give credit where credit is due and argues to have the winner stripped of victory or at the very least besmirch the accomplishments with scorn and smug attitudes.  Not one of the people writing in this forum knows the facts but we try to tear Pete down or defend him with our words.  Whiners; if Pete was YOUR coach and Sherman was YOUR Cornerback, a Super Bowl victory would have you singing a different tune.  No 'if''s, and's or but's.'  Just sour grapes.

VIPOD
VIPOD

The same coach who shows us clips of Lester Hayes and Mike Haynes playing press-man 30 years ago" - Sherman


Al Davis was right, and will always be right about DB coverage. LOB = LOD Raiders circa '76-'83

BillRobinson
BillRobinson

There are a lot of haters who are looking really stupid right now. Enjoy your feast of crow. Pete has always been a classy coach who has these crazy ideas that football should be fun, players should be treated with respect, and the team is all important. The same leadership qualities that work so well in all fields of endeavor. He tries to build on the unique strengths of his players?

USC's sanctions are more a statement of the incompetence and vindictiveness of the NCAA than a measure of Pete Carroll. Pete got tarred with the brush of an out of control basketball program and an extremely arrogant Director of Athletics, Garrett.

Sicko123
Sicko123

Outstanding Stuff Sherman!

ArgentoPinciati
ArgentoPinciati

Nice writing Sherman!  We are with you as you play Denver.  Go Hawks!


HazelMcGuireMarston
HazelMcGuireMarston

Pete Carroll certainly knew his "recruiting practices "  would come to light and he certainly knew that he would 


skate free and the student athletes he left behind would suffer. That's the action of a Caring person ?  Do what 


ever it takes to build a great team, that's your chance back to the NFL. 




pirate
pirate

It's impossible to run a big time college football program without cheating, as SI's series on Oklahoma State showed. The question isn't "Should college players get paid," it's "Should college players get paid openly or continue to get paid under the table?" And should they have the right to sell their services to the program that will pay the most? And finally, why do colleges even HAVE big time sports programs? They obviously have nothing to do with the mission of the college. Except in Alabama and Texas, where football appears to BE the reason for having a college.


But that's neither here nor there. The story shows why Pete Carroll is a successful coach. If I was young and talented (as opposed to old, out of shape) I'd want to play for him. Damn straight.

dannycummins
dannycummins

My take on Pete Carroll is this: College football is a scam. It's minor league pro football.  Carroll was no worse than any of the hundreds of cheating coaches, players, institutions, leagues, or hypocritical college presidents or NCAA and league overseers. It's way dirty and should be scaled back in favor of tiered pro football leagues. But it is good to see Carroll proving himself at the highest level of the game, where anything goes, everybody is an adult and the cards are turned up. 

MarkTyeTurner
MarkTyeTurner

I can envision Pete and Richard hoisting the Lombardi tomorrow night. Haters be damned. 

bobdevo
bobdevo

Thanks for the look inside at Pete Carroll, and the look inside Richard Sherman.

EdgarMartinez
EdgarMartinez

Man, the haters really hate this article. Nice, Sherman.

adamblake1
adamblake1

Gives me some new respect for Pete Carroll, who I did not care for at all when he was at USC.  I still don't like that he was responsible for many of the NCAA infractions that occurred while he was at USC, but only the school was penalized ... not Carrol, who had run off to Seattle.  But reading this essay from Richard Sherman makes me realize there is a positive side to him as well.  Go Seahawks !!!

FOOLKILLER
FOOLKILLER

God hates seahawks fans. Manning & the class act Broncos are gonna curb stomp Seattle something ferocious.

EricHuttinger
EricHuttinger

This Carroll sounds like a class act. I wish he would come coach at our school and clean up the mess the previous coaches have left.

Signed, USC Trojans.

Mike26
Mike26

@BillRobinson  LOL!

1.  Carroll cheated at USC with improper benefits = proven and undeniable (blaming GARRETT for the out of control environment and the NCAA for being vindictive?  LOLOLOL!)

2.  Seattle leads the league in PED and drug suspensions = proven and undeniable


Most coaches treat their players with respect and build upon their players' talents in an effort to be successful.  Carroll happened to do it better this year than other coaches, but certainly not unique.  So if you're still proud of #1 and #2 and feel that Pete is special otherwise, that's your choice.  Many fans still, with good evidence, take a much more realistic view of Carroll and the Seahawks.

Buck2185
Buck2185

@Sicko123 He forgot to mention that another reason he loves Carroll is that Pete supplies him his "questionable" medications (you know, the ones that make you speak like a punk at interviews

MyronBernard
MyronBernard

@HazelMcGuireMarston  You realize that USC sanctions had absolutely nothing to do with recruiting right? Reggie Bush took an internship from an agent (not illegal). The agent paid him too much money and gifts for too little work (is illegal) hoping that he would be the person Bush signs with when moving on to the NFL. When Bush went with a different agent, the first guy got pissed and blew a whistle of Bush. This caused the whole program to get jacked. Not really the coaches fault my friend.

davidhd
davidhd

Am I wrong, or did most or all of the infractions at USC center around one player, Reggie Bush? If not, let me know so I can understand why everyone calls Pete Carroll a cheater. It seems to me that Reggie Bush is the one who cheated and got away with it, not Pete. Afterall, Pete still had to attend all of the hearings, defend himself in court and in the court of public opinion, and get a bad rep for taking an NFL job when the punishments were handed down. What was Pete supposed to do? Turn down the Seahawks offer so he could appear more virtuous while spending a couple of years in college football purgatory? What good would that do, and aren't the real villains the boosters at USC and Reggie Bush? 

MrArlington
MrArlington

@dannycummins The "I know he did wrong, but others were doing it too, therefore it isn't that bad" argument never holds water. We could use this mitigating factor to give A Rod the same pass you're giving Carroll.

pirate
pirate

@MarkTyeTurner I can't wait to watch the haters choke on their own bile when that happens!

EssJ
EssJ

@FOOLKILLER  How'd that workout? I missed the game. Please let me kow.

pirate
pirate

@FOOLKILLER   Wow. This is just silly. I suspect God has better things to worry about. And, let's just say I think you're wrong, but that's why they play the games.

kingfisher1234
kingfisher1234

@FOOLKILLER . Has Manning become a Tebow?  I know he is half way there.  I am niner fan, but I love Hawks to win just so the god lovers lose. :-)

nutz4golf
nutz4golf

@EricHuttinger OJ has a lot of free time and needs some money. Maybe you could contract him as a consultant.

adamblake1
adamblake1

@EricHuttinger  Don't forget that Carroll was largely responsible for that mess, like all the NCAA infractions that occurred on his watch.  Only the school paid the penalties for these infractions, not Carroll, who ran off to Seattle.

maxdotcom13
maxdotcom13

@Buck2185 oh Bucky. What "medication" makes someone "speak like a punk" and how long have you been taking it?

el80ne
el80ne

@Buck2185 @HazelMcGuireMarston LOL. So why would Pete be leaving? Just because you secretly want him to coach YOUR favorite team doesn't mean he'll do it, even if you had the money to pay his salary.


Nonsense. No reason for Pete to leave when the dynasty has just begun with him as the titular head.

PhillyPenn
PhillyPenn

@MyronBernard minor quibble:  what Bush did was illicit, not illegal. My apologies, it's not you, it's me.  

Mike26
Mike26

@davidhd  No, there were a litany of other infractions.  Bush was certainly the centerpiece that drew the investigation though.

Mike26
Mike26

@MrArlington @dannycummins  Spot on - but no doubt there's more "fans" of win-at-all-costs than ever before, especially when it come to the former hometown of the Supersonics.

Kenny2Thorough
Kenny2Thorough

@MrArlington @dannycumminsI agree that the everyone does it defense doesn't excuse a behavior.

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"Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again." - - Nelson Mandela

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Carroll has fell down and got back up again.

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"Why? Why would he[Carroll] continue philanthropy in Los Angeles while he has no professional ties to the city? It’s not like it’s helping him recruit anymore. Whatever his motivation, it’s pure." - - Richard Sherman

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Carroll isn't afraid to go to the toughest neighborhoods amongst people who some may view as racially inferior. I have no way of knowing Carroll's true motivation but he seems to have empathy for people who are in tough situations as well as a desire to give people a hand up rather than a handout. 

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Some people are unwilling to give up the traditional social constructions that have evolved in order to morally justify slavery and the racially based cast systems that have developed. I think Rush Limbaugh sometimes try to do what he can to highlight this in a way that doesn't offend those in conservative circles. But I think Limbaugh sees Sherman as a man who can bridge some of the racial barriers of modern American society.

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"I frankly think as I go out on a limb here, I don't want to put pressure on people that they perhaps don't want themselves.  He[Sherman] would be an ideal role model for young people of all races, simply because of his work ethic, because of his achievements and accomplishments." - - Rush Limbaugh

Ilovemesomeme
Ilovemesomeme

@pk_sea @Mike26@BillRobinson Eh, in all fairness he's right.  I don't blame Seattle fans for sticking up for him, or being happy about the Super Bowl win.  But winning the Super Bowl doesn't change the fact that he has at times displayed questionable (to say the least) morals and ethics. 


Seperating the two really isn't that difficult. 

ewilly737
ewilly737

@Mike26 @maxdotcom13 @Buck2185  wow, sum up a persons character in a 30 second sound bite!!! There goes the neighborhood!! 

There is a fine line between arrogance and confidence and it's obvious Sherman is in control because he's got you haters still belly-aching 2 weeks later over a 30 second sound bite!! Ha, Ha!

CGGymDog
CGGymDog

@Mike26 @ArgentoPinciati @davidhd  Really? Fans of the other 31 teams would trade places with Seahawks fans any day of the week, and the drug suspensions wouldn't matter to them. Sure, it sucks, but people make mistakes. That does nothing to take away from the fact that Seattle had the league's best defense, and that they shut down what was the most prolific offense in NFL history. But people who hate always try to find a way to pick at the success of others.

Mike26
Mike26

@ArgentoPinciati @davidhd  I don't know that folks are really jealous of a team that leads the league in defense and drug/PED suspensions, even with a Super Bowl victory.

CGGymDog
CGGymDog

@Mike26 @MrArlington @dannycummins  You're rather bitter that Seattle is successful, aren't you? To cast aspersions at fans for liking their team, even if players aren't perfect? So tell us how you've lived a perfect life, and never made a mistake or done anything to get into trouble, because it will make an interesting story. Fans love their teams, it would be newsworthy if a fan turned away from a team because a few players made poor choices. Should Denver fans hate the Broncos because Von Miller cheated on a urinalysis? Not just cheated, but colluded with the sample collector? In 2013, three St Louis players were suspended, but you don't care because the Rams weren't winners. It's sad that you think you have to try to cast a cloud on other fans happiness. 

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