Reading between the lines: Seahawks’ Pete Carroll on holdouts
Editor’s note: Football coaches usually mean what they say. They don’t, however, always say what they mean. Sometimes you need to read between the lines, and translating Pete Carroll’s unique brand of speech, which is filled with equal parts superlatives and run-on sentences, takes a little extra effort. So here’s a transcript of what Seattle’s coach said after Saturday’s practice followed by a best-guess interpretation of what was meant. Keep in mind that no translation is perfect and that this translator specifically has been working with Carrollese only since 2010.
Q: What did you see from Michael Bennett and what does it mean for him to be here?
What Pete Carroll said: “He brought a bunch of juice today. He was in great spirits, he had a great attitude about it. He’s just being the Michael Bennett that he is. Mike is a tremendous team player, and he has always been that not to mention about his ability and that kind of stuff. He’s a great factor on this club. That’s why we want him to be here. We want to figure out to make him a Seahawk until he’s finished playing football so we’ll see what happens.”
What Pete Carroll meant: Well, it’s not like I want to hand out participation ribbons for guys who show up for work, but yeah, it was important. He’s only our best defensive lineman, a guy coming off the best year of his career while playing on a toe so sore that the first thing he does after a game is shove his foot into a five-gallon bucket filled with ice. Not only that, but he’s signed to a deal that’s half the going rate for a top-tier defensive lineman. Did you see the cash that Malik Jackson and Olivier Vernon pulled in as free agents? Well, I’m sure that Michael did so to see him out there leading the fans in chants and swinging his hips after a big play, well that put a smile on my face.
Q: This is the first time in a few years that there hasn’t been a holdout when training camp started. How much of a difference does that make?
What Carroll said: “It is important. It’s really important. There’s a real strong messaging in our locker room. These guys want to be part of this thing. They don’t want to be the guy that disrupts it. They don’t want to be part of that. We went through a really a real learning process last year with one of our great players and great competitors in Kam. I think he has helped people understand what that’s all about. He has been a big inspiration to anybody who would think that way. I think it also shows that they trust that we’re going to work like crazy to get things done and help these guys for their specific situations which we’re going to try to do always. We always have.”
What Carroll meant: It stunk that Kam Chancellor missed seven weeks of work last year. It stunk for the player, who lost more than a million dollars. It stunk for the team, which lost two regular-season games. It stunk for absolutely everyone because we lost some of that camaraderie that had been such a big part of our success. Everyone recognizes that. No one wants it to happen again. And it should go without saying that we’ve also shown that we’re not going to bend on our approach to extending contracts. We don’t do it if there’s more than a year remaining. We didn’t do it with Marshawn Lynch in 2014. We didn’t do it with Chancellor a year ago. So if you want to fight us on that, we’re all going to lose.
Q: When you say Chancellor’s helped. Did he kind of reflect on last year and talk about what happened?
What Carroll said: “He’s here. He’s here every day working. He’s just around. He is a leader. He is the leader and so he’s available for guys. I think whether he sat down and talked one-on-one, I think his message is very clear with these guys right now.
What Carroll meant: He didn’t need to say a word. Everyone saw him hold out last year. Everyone knows his contract hasn’t changed. Everyone saw him back at work now and throughout this offseason, which kind of speaks for itself. He doesn’t need to sit everyone down and explain it. Everyone sees it.
Q: Was there any concern about whether Michael Bennett would report?
What Carroll said: “Of course. There’s 90 guys that could have stayed at home. So you’re always concerned about it. His is a little more out in the public.”
What Carroll meant: I may be a positive person, but I have ears which means I’ve heard the same things you have. The guy’s openly discussed his belief that he’s underpaid for more than a year now, and his performance last season only deepens that resolve. A player can always choose to stage a one-man sit-down strike as we’ve seen first-hand. So while we didn’t expect him to be absent, we aren’t naïve, either. I’m just happy that big hunka-hunka burning love is out there practicing.