Gonzo Today Publisher and Contributing Editor
“Hell, I knew the poor sap over 50 years ago as a little kid. And despite all that money and fame, I wouldn’t want to be him, at least not for the next couple months, and perhaps not for the next couple decades.” – Kyle Mann, “The Super Choke” for Gonzo Today, 2015.
Quoting oneself to start an article has an odd feel, at least to me, but it’s time to take on the chore of a follow-up to my admittedly self-serving 2015 article/blast, which is included in my 2021 anthology “The Doors and Other Articles” by Flying Trees Publishing. End of plug.
All right… that quote has stood the test of time, in my view. Pete Carroll, head coach of the professional football team the Seattle Seahawks, famously choked catastrophically in his second Super Bowl appearance and seven seasons later has failed to return to the Big Show. The 2021 Seahawks’ losing season has been his worst yet, and calls for his firing are growing in volume and intensity.
Seven seasons is a long time in the National Football League, and Carroll has stayed afloat by compiling a winning record in the regular season over that time, and hauling in a massive salary in so doing. But the gold standard in the NFL is always going to be Super Bowl wins. Choke in the playoffs, and you still suck. Which brings to this quote from Coach Carroll from yesterday, December 27, 2021, regarding the team’s current ghastly year and future prospects: “You can count on us to figure it out.”
By any reasonable standard, in my view, that goes past self-confidence and into hubris: the sin of pride. Arrogance might be a better term.
Cut to September 1961, Greenbrae Elementary School, Larkspur California, where I was the new kid and as fate would have it, Pete Carroll was my nemesis in Mrs. Taylor’s 4th grade classroom. Carroll was already used to being in control as an alpha male. Bolstered by his clique of pals, Carroll decided I was a threat to his domination, and badmouthed me at every opportunity.
So there I am, a bewildered ten year old who was formerly a popular kid at his previous school and now, thanks to Carroll’s relentless verbal bullying and propaganda, am at the bottom of the social heap.
At the organized school sport period, Pete Carroll was usually chosen by the teacher, who in my view Carroll always sucked up to, to be a team captain. What followed was the ritual of choosing team members, picked one by one. Predictably, thanks to weeks of abusive verbal bullying from Pete and his gang, I was chosen last, and by Pete’s opposing captain.
The game was kickball, a baseball variant where you kick a bouncing ball served to you by the “pitcher.” As the contest progressed, my team fell a couple runs behind. I had never played the game, and flubbed my first couple times up, much to the mockery of Carroll and Company. Hmm, I thought, watching how the other kids kicked it. OK, let’s try that again.
Last inning, and I’m up with a couple people on base. The razzing from Pete reaches a crescendo. The ball bounces to me and I give a solid kick that sails over the outfielders’ head. Home run! Game over, and my teammates greet me with the requisite backslaps and congratulations, as Pete glowers in defeat. For all of ten seconds I bask in my heroship. Then, the hateful voice of Pete Carroll shrieks.
“He was LUCKY.”
My teammates suddenly realize that I still have kooties in the Pete Carroll hierarchy, and draw back. My face falls, my triumph is negated, and kids walk away from me like I’m radioactive.
60 years later, I don’t see much difference in Pete Carroll’s approach to life. He still sucks up to authority, in this case Seahawks billionaire owner Jody Allen, who Carroll claims, with no confirmation, he’s on the “same page” with. Right. I immediately remember that 4th grade teacher Mrs. Taylor.
He still blames others, including his franchise quarterback Russell Wilson, saying of Wilson’s crucial sack in the fourth quarter of a one-point loss to a woeful Chicago Bears team in Seattle, “We gotta get rid of the football. We can’t take [a] sack there… I got to get that done… got to get Russ to pull that off. I got to get the [assistant] coaches to make sure we reminded him well enough so that didn’t happen.” He goes on, but you get the idea.
See what Pete did there?
At Pete’s website, which I just looked at for the first time, we find the following puffery: “His brand of inclusive leadership, combined with his ability to create an “atmosphere of understanding” within teams, has made him one of the most recognizable and respected figures in modern sports and beyond.”
Really? I’m laughing out loud here. But it gets better.
“He empowers his players to be the best version of themselves, with the freedom to make mistakes, speak their minds, and be truly seen and heard for who they are. His leadership approach is rooted in compassion and love…”
Really? I’m still laughing here. I have to wonder what Russell Wilson thinks about that. Wilson indicated in the 2021 offseason that he wanted out, listing four teams he’d be interested in playing for. I can’t imagine Coach Pete’s “compassion and love” as evinced by Pete’s postgame blame is going to change that.
If owner Jody Allen is smart, she will eat Pete Carroll’s remaining contract and rebuild the team by cleaning house. Carroll is increasingly desperate to erase the shame. The shame of literally throwing away a potential dynasty by choking in the Super Bowl against the team that fired him. The New England Patriots. He’ll do anything to anyone to get there, but at age 70 he’s washed up, using outdated schemes and philosophy, and duplicitous rhetoric. The game clock has run out.
And despite his “feel good” rah rah stance, he’s lost the confidence of his players and substantial numbers of Seattle fans. Recent articles from Sports Illustrated to the New York Times agree: It’s all but over. My inner ten year old reminds me again what he howled when I beat him.
“He was LUCKY.”
Hey Pete, ya know what? Karma’s a bitch!
Kyle K. Mann
December 28, 2021