Friday’s gathering at Seahawks headquarters wasn’t as much about a new contract as it was a renewal of vows.
Coach Pete Carroll got the pay bump he earned, and the Seahawks secured the kind of stability at the top that will continue to inspire players to either join the team or stay here.
But most important, it reaffirmed the importance of the stunningly productive and compatible civil union between Carroll and general manager John Schneider.
This is at the core of the Seahawks’ current success, and will be the fuel for its extension into the future.
Carroll’s contract is reportedly for three years – taking him to age 65 – and likely will make him the highest-paid coach in the NFL. He’s as deserving as anybody as he has been able to connect with his players in a way that remarkably inspires a total sharing of goals while celebrating expressions of individuality at the same time.
While Carroll is so often touted for his relationship with the players and his motivational skills, it might unfairly overshadow his abilities with the nuts and bolts of coaching strategy and scheming.
The Seahawks’ defense, one of the best in the NFL history, was coordinated by Dan Quinn this season, but it was a function of Carroll’s long-range design.
Meanwhile, many note the change in competitive culture since Carroll and Schneider arrived before the 2010 season.
But it’s not just a change in culture, but architecture, as well.
These two have constructed a blueprint for how a franchise can be both built and maintained.
Their collaboration melds materials to design, form to function. Schneider goes player shopping with an understanding of Carroll’s needs. Carroll effectively shapes the resources Schneider provides. Both operate with common purposes.
“I felt like we had an opportunity to demonstrate to professional sports how powerful and how crucial this relationship is,” Carroll said of the partnership with Schneider. “It has come with real design. I wanted to help John be the best he could possibly be. He is committed to try and help me be the best I can possibly be. With that union we put this organization in motion and we’re really proud to tell you that and proud to show you that we have been able to do that together.”
What the Seahawks have joined together, let no man put asunder.
Carroll’s easiness in the public and his high profile during his days at USC might have left him interpreted as a man with an attraction to the spotlight. But it is an absence of ego in his relationship with Schneider that is the key to making it work.
He said Friday that when he was being wooed to coach the Seahawks, he was asked if he wanted to be the general manager. He said he didn’t think he could do that. That’s a display of stunning self-awareness in the National Football League.
In fact, he had so little ego investment that he urged the hiring of Schneider, 42, and then trusted his decisions with obvious and admirable confidence.
Carroll certainly had the juice to either be the total honcho, or at least shove around some puppet he placed in that position.
But that couldn’t be further from the case.
And that’s why it works.
Both he and Schneider used the term “lovefest” after gushing about their effective relationship. You might suggest that it’s easy when the team is so successful.
Not so fast. Take a look at the rivals to the south, where the general manager and head coach of the 49ers have been the focus of stories about a dysfunctional relationship. The Niners have been to three straight NFC title games and a Super Bowl, but they can’t get along?
I wonder how much fun it was for Carroll and Schneider to engage in such public expressions of professional admiration Friday as stories that hint of an unraveling in San Francisco keep seeping out.
I think it’s fair to assume the Seahawks’ window of competitiveness at the highest level will remain open with both Carroll and Schneider having been locked up.
It’s also fair to assume that neither is going to be satisfied with what they’ve already accomplished.
Asked of his youthful energy, Carroll said his wife, Glena, credits his “zeal.”
“I don’t know what that means, though,” Carroll said.
Well, coach, we’ll give you a hand: “Zeal, n: A strong feeling of interest and enthusiasm that makes someone very eager or determined to do something.”
Yeah, coach, zeal is the word for it.