No, Pete Carroll says, Michael Bennett never was so overtly disrespectful in his reading habits inside Seahawks headquarters.
"Mike never brought a book to a meeting, I'll tell you that," the Seahawks' coach said Monday.
That was when Carroll was asked about Sports Illustrated's Greg Bishop relating to Seattle's KIRO-AM radio last week what he said Bennett told him about the Pro Bowl defensive end's 2017 with the team.
Bishop told 710 ESPN Seattle that Bennett said "he read books during team meetings last year because he’d heard Carroll say the same thing over and over for seven years."
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On Monday, Carroll was asked during a ore-draft press conference at team headquarters about Bennett allegedly reading a book in meetings, and about also-gone Richard Sherman being defiant towards coaches on the sidelines during games in previous seasons.
"The thing I would tell you about that is that we’ve been through a lot around here, we’ve grown tremendously together and all of that, and changes are inevitable," Carroll said. "Sometimes, guys can’t hang with what’s expected, for one reason or another—their growth, their development and all of that.
"And the best thing I can tell you is, that they’re not here.”
It was a veiled yet still unusual rebuke from the sunny coach. He no doubt didn't appreciate Bennett and Sherman saying Carroll's messages and ways with the Seahawks had gotten stale last season, his eighth leading the team.
Last year was Seattle's first without a playoff appearance since 2011.
Bishop's description of what Bennett told him jibes with what Sherman said after the Seahawks waived him in March, and over the past year.
It sheds light on what may be other, inside-the-locker-room reasons why two cornerstones of the Seahawks' most successful era ever are gone. Reasons besides the team's salary-cap savings of $2.2 million for Bennett this year and $11 million for Sherman.
Carroll rebuilt a college football champion at USC with his unique ways before arriving to lead the Seahawks in 2010. In mid-March, days after the three-time All-Pro cornerback left Seattle following seven hugely successfuly years, Sherman said on the Uninterrupted podcast "The Tomahawk Show": "A lot of us have been there six, seven, eight years, and his philosophy is more built for college. Four years. Guys rotate in, rotate out.
"And so we had kind of heard all his stories. We had kind of heard every story, every funny anecdote that he had. And, honestly, because he just recycles them.
"And they're cool stories," Sherman said. "They're great for team chemistry and building, etcetera, etcetera. But we had literally heard them all. We could recite them before he even started to say them."
In December 2016 Sherman berated Carroll and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell over calling a pass play from the 1-yard line in a win over the Los Angeles Rams. Sherman then talked dismissively about a team meeting Carroll called after that Rams incident.
Sherman described the meeting as yet another “Kumbaya” one by his sunny coach.
"It was good. We just talked about the mood of the team and guys coming together,” Sherman said in December 2016. "We have a Kumbaya meeting just about every year. So it was just the same thing. We don’t sing the song. But we just sit Indian style; Kumbaya."
So this sense of stale has been with Sherman for at least two-plus years.
Carroll, 66 and the NFL's oldest coach (by seven months over New England's Bill Belichick), has two years remaining on his Seahawks contract. He has been aware the shelf lives of his message and ways could fade with his older, accomplished veterans. He has acknowledged during these last few seasons it's an ongoing challenge to keep his message fresh and therefore effective.
Of course, winning almost always solves and soothes everything. That's a concurrent factor here.
Carroll's ways were by all accounts cool and chic while Sherman, Bennett and the Seahawks were going to consecutive Super Bowls in the 2013 and '14 seasons.
Judging by what Bennett and Sherman have said, at least, those methods and messages were stale in 2017—during what became the Seahawks' first non-playoff season in six years.
The coach has used unusual ways and surprises galore to keep his approach engaging for players over his eight years leading the franchise. He's held free-throw shooting contests before meetings and blared music during practices since he got here. Carroll also has continued to bring in surprise guests to talk to his players. The Seahawks reveled in a visit by rap star and Pulitzer Prize-winner Kendrick Lamar at a practice last year. Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson, the astrophysicist and host of television’s Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, broke down the players in their post-practice huddle in the middle of the field in training camp in 2016—while telling the Seahawks about the universe.
And there was last season's zany, Techno Thursday movement tight end Luke Willson championed and Carroll supported.
In 2015 Carroll spiced up the Saturday-night motivational video he shows players at their hotel on the eve of each game by showing each Seahawk's college highlights before a game at Minnesota. The next day they smacked the host Vikings 38-7.
“You have to get your players to respond. You have to keep them motivated,” three-time All-Pro safety Earl Thomas said in the locker room in Minneapolis after that blowout win and the new motivational video the previous night.
“I’ve been in this system for (then) six years. Some of the philosophy gets boring. But when it comes to games and what he brings to the table, it’s always interesting.”