Russell Wilson and Bobby Wagner have been with him for 10 seasons. Kam Chancellor saw him eight times, Richard Sherman seven times and Marshawn Lynch five times.
Pete Carroll has coached a host of All-Pros and future Hall of Famers during his tenure with the Seahawks, but perhaps the most compelling testimony that speaks of the culture he’s built came from a man who was there a month .
Adrian Peterson, the best running back of his generation, signed with the Seahawks on December 1 and played just one game before being sidelined with injury. He spent the rest of the season mentoring younger running backs and appeared to have a significant influence on budding star Rashaad Penny. But the day after the Seahawks’ final game, Peterson, who has played for seven NFL teams over his 15 years, gave the franchise heartfelt praise.
“I’ve been fortunate to play with many different organizations. I can say that this is definitely, probably the best experience I’ve ever had,” said Peterson. “I experienced a different mentality when I came into this building. With the team that has the record that they had, just kind of seeing the coaches and the players progressing each week, just really focusing on one week at a time and looking at it as another challenge, one another chance, I mean, to get better. So it was an incredible experience for me.”
Peterson didn’t single out Carroll here, but he did praise the mindset he conveys. And if there’s something about the Seahawks that strikes you, it’s that players rarely want to leave.
The aforementioned penny will make free agency worth significantly more than it did before it exploded in the last five games of the season, when he rushed for at least 135 yards in four of them. When asked if he would like to return to Seattle, the California native and San Diego state product beamed and said, “This is my home. I will gladly come again.”
You hear that quite often – and you’d think Pete had a lot to do with it. Think of a few times he could have spoken out to players but would have bitten his tongue. In 2016, Sherman twice blasted his coaches on the touchline, and after the second instance (against the Rams) he smacked Carroll for throwing the ball to the 1-yard line — a clear dig at the infamous Super Bowl mishap .
Carroll never publicly chastised him, which may have prompted Sherman to reach out to the Seahawks to see if they would match the deal the 49ers offered two years later.
In 2015, Lynch chose to rehab his abdominal injury outside of the Seahawks’ coaches and notoriously declared himself eliminated just before the team’s playoff game against the Vikings that postseason. Carroll never publicly criticized him, and four years later, Lynch returned to the team for the final game of the regular season and two playoff games.
In 2018, safety Earl Thomas regularly denounced the Seahawks for not signing him for a renewal two years before his contract expired. He turned the bird over to Pete after breaking his leg in Arizona, but once again Carroll Earl gave his full support.
And of course, when Wilson came up with a list of four teams he’d be willing to trade into the final offseason — putting Seahawks fans into a rotating cycle — Carroll downplayed the drama and showed his deference to Russ. Since then, Wilson has repeatedly said he wants to return to Seattle (but who can really be sure).
Relationships are often just as important as success. This not only applies to players and coaches, but also to coaches and owners. Two examples in San Diego support this.
In his senior year with the Chargers, coach Marty Schottenheimer led the Chargers to a 14-2 record. But his ailing relationship with owner Dean Spanos cost him his job. Meanwhile, Padres manager Bud Black – possibly the nicest man in the sport – never led the club to the playoffs, only ending a successful season once. He still has nine seasons left in SD and is nearing his sixth season with the Rockies, who have just one playoff appearance under Black’s supervision.
Carroll’s Seahawks may have gone 7-10 this season, but he’s earned the benefit of the doubt given his past successes. Given the relationships he’s built, it’s also unlikely that people above him would want to see him go.