Pete Carroll: Super Bowl champion. This are words I never thought would go together, but they do. When he coached the New England Patriots from 1997 to 1999, it was right as I was starting to follow sports religiously, and after Bill Parcells took my hometown Pats to the Super Bowl in 1996, Carroll had tough shoes to fill. He took a young team on the rise, and ran them into the ground. Only one player drafted by the Pats during that time, running back/kick returner Kevin Faulk, had any impact on the Belichick Era Patriots that would win three Super Bowls and reach (at least) two more. Pete Carroll was the first coach I ever second guessed as a fan in any sport. He’s clearly learned from his failures in New England, though.
Carroll has built a great program in Seattle. The Seahawks won this year, but they’re still a young team on the rise. The could be good for a long time. Carroll has drafted a defense that is the right combination of big, physical, and fast. The Seahawks have found success outside of the 1st round, too. They got a franchise QB in Russell Wilson in the 3rd round, two of the very best defensive backs in football in Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor in the 5th round, and Super Bowl MVP linebacker Malcolm Smith in the 7th round. I was predicting that Seattle would win a close game, but the 43-8 massacre of the record setting Denver Broncos proved to the world that the Seahawks were ready for primetime.
Pete Carroll may be unconventional, and he may be the perfect college coach, and he may be a 9/11 truther, but he’s a people person, and communication is essential to winning football games. He gets players. and he gets defense, and his team reflects his personality. I spent most of my life doubting Carroll’s ability to win at the NFL level, but he’s proven me wrong.
This game is as much about how good the Seahawks are as it is about how badly Peyton Manning and the Broncos played. Peyton Manning had a record setting season. He threw for more touchdowns and quarterbacked an offense that scored more points than any in history. A quarterback who led the NFL in passing yards in the regular season has never gone on to win the Super Bowl, and Manning’s choke job in the most important game of the year in his little brother’s home stadium has preserved that streak.
As it turns out, the real Super Bowl was played two weeks ago in Seattle, when the Seahawks hosted the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship Game. The Hawks and Niners were the two best teams in football this year, but they will never get to play in the real Super Bowl. It’s turned into one of the best rivalries in the NFL, and it’s only going to heat up more now that Richard Sherman has a ring to back up the big game he talks.
For Seattle, it means the city’s first championship since the 1979 Seattle Supersonics, and it means a first championship for software pioneer owner Paul Allen, whose Portland Trail Blazers also have a decent chance at a championship this spring. Allen, who co-founded Microsoft with childhood friend Bill Gates in 1975, has had a greater impact on daily life for the average American than any other owner in major professional sports, by my estimation.
For the rest of the fans in the NFL, pitchers and catchers will be arriving shortly, and the Draft is a few months away. Next year is almost here!