Seahawks’ Cliff Avril, Michael Bennett explain why Pete Carroll is a great coach for black players

May 18, 2016, 12:24 PM

Seahawks DE Cliff Avril on Pete Carroll: "I think Coach Carroll allows guys to be themselves." (AP)...

Seahawks DE Cliff Avril on Pete Carroll: "I think Coach Carroll allows guys to be themselves." (AP)


LISTEN: Rapid fire Blue 42 with Seahawks DE Cliff Avril

Enigmatic Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett is known for his willingness to entertain and dispense outlandish comments. But when he said Tuesday on 710 ESPN Seattle’s “Brock and Salk” that Seattle head coach Pete Carroll “definitely understands the black athlete more than any coach out there,” he might not have been speaking in hyperbole.

Seahawks defensive end Cliff Avril told “Brock and Salk” Wednesday that he agrees with Bennett’s assessment of Seattle’s coach, saying Carroll allows athletes to be themselves, which is surprisingly uncommon.

“I think sometimes with coaches, they want to mold you … they think this is the way you have to coach certain players,” Avril said. “I think Coach Carroll allows guys to be themselves, which allows us to play fast on Sundays and enjoy the game. Everybody is different, everybody has different backgrounds. Me, compared to Marshawn (Lynch), to Mike (Bennett), we’ve all kind of had our own different experiences growing up but he allows us to be ourselves and not have to … fake the funk, in a sense.”

Related: Michael Bennett invokes Fifth Amendment on contract concerns

Carroll has certainly coached some characters during a coaching career that started in 1973 as a graduate assistant at Pacific University and has spanned the nation – from the East Coast as head coach of the New York Jets and New England Patriots, to the Midwest as secondary coach for Iowa State to his highly successful tenure leading Southern California. Bennett specifically mentioned how Carroll seems to understand personalities from differing communities, having dealt with USC players from South Central and other areas with gang problems.

Carroll is known for his affinity for reading books written by inspirational coaches and authors, such as John Wooden and Angela Duckworth, over the offseason. Carroll told “Brock and Salk” on May 10 that “The Road to Character” by New York times columnist David Brooks recently helped give him some “clarity” about the team.

“We’re in the position in this program to grow out of the chase and the climb and we need to grow with great depth,” Carroll said. “There is something to the character to the young guys as they grow and the character of our team that we’re developing and I think it gives us a chance to take us to another level of understanding and appreciation for one another so that we can play as a great team.”

ESPN NFL expert John Clayton told “Brock and Salk” that Carroll’s willingness to learn and the relationship he’s built with his players make him one of the top two coaches in the NFL.

“I agree with (Bennett) 100 percent: (Carroll) probably is the best coach in dealing with black athletes,” Clayton said. “… He’s able to get into the minds of guys that are 40 years younger and get the most out of them, and he’s always learning on the job, too, which I think is great.”

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