How one woman who lives in a big Football city found the same relationship between herself and a coach that many feel between themselves and a player.
Okay, I've gone on record as kind of hating the NFL. My relationship with the game, for the last 40-plus years has been, "I don't get it," at best. I have gone on the record complaining about the callous treatment of player's bodies, the appalling treatment of cheerleaders, the offensive fact that the NFL is a non-profit, and the hero-worship of football players that has often allowed them to get away with all sorts of illegal behavior because we cast them as demi-gods and their will is more important than laws or the rights of others, mostly women, who they act upon.
But I live in Seattle. And it's hard to live here and not feel "it." Mind you, I'm stubborn as hell, I held out a long time, but... they wore me down. And by "they," I mean Pete Carroll.
Okay, first Richard Sherman, and I'll admit that was largely hormone driven. He is, well, very, very pretty. (Sigh.) But pretty isn't enough for me, never has been, never will be. I did what I always do, researched the dude. Smart as hell. Smart does it for me. Wise, well-spoken, willing to stand-up for what's right, gives back to the community, and but for some foul language (which is something I like to think that I do with equal fucking flare) he's a great guy. BOOM. Sherm.
Then, Marshawn Lynch. I mean... just as smart, and ironically, just as well spoken. In that, he
doesn't feel the need to speak unless he really has something to say, or wants to. No need to put on a show. I mean, a man who knows his mind and sticks to it... rare, and awesome.
I mean, this team is something special.
This team is the NFL being very un NFL-like. They talk about how positive Carroll is, about how supportive. There's nothing of the histrionics of Belichick, the macho bravado verging on violent rage. There's meditation, thoughtfulness, togetherness.
Carroll values the same things that I value as a human, as a mother, as a business owner. Community, respect, peace, safety -- both emotional and physical. It's not "win at all costs." It's "be the best you can be, and trust that it works."
Oh, it works.
When the team traded Percy Harvin, I pretty much fell in fake-love with Carroll.
Harvin was an excellent receiver (which I know only because people keep saying so,) and an integral part of that last big win. And Harvin is not Seahawks material. Not because he doesn't bring home wins, but because he's not, by all reports, a good fit, personality-wise.
Stealing Warren Moon's explanation:
"One thing ... Pete is really, really big on is chemistry and everybody feeling comfortable with one another. And I think that's what this team has been so successful with the last three years. They've really had a great camaraderie, and they didn't want to do anything to disrupt that."
To me, that means establishing rules of community in which everyone is treated with respect, feels safe emotionally and physically, feels protected, feels like they have what they need to explore their whole potential.
That, right there, is baseline what we need as a society. Pete Carroll, in his Seahawks, is creating the rules of a civilized society.
And it would be hard to say it isn't working. He's not just going for the win, he's going for the win that comes out of a civilized society.
I live in Seattle. But specifically, in 98118, which is the most diverse zip code in the U.S. I drive by a billboard almost daily in which Pete Carroll's face is seen over a huddle of men, saying that friends don't let friends bully.
I live in a zip code in which there is often no common language spoken on the street corners, but people will wear Seahawks shirts and smile to each other.
I live in a city that has a hard time expressing emotion, we are as known for "The Seattle Freeze" as we are Starbucks and Microsoft. And people are talking to each other about this team. Not just this game, this team. The streets are electric.
I still can't pretend that I know anything about the game. Not much. (More than this time last year, though, that's for sure.) But I know what I feel around me. I feel a thaw.
And I hear people talking about Carroll. Not just Sherman, Wilson, Baldwin, Chancellor, Lynch and "who was that guy, I mean, he's special teams..." People are talking about Carroll.
Carroll should be the league MVP. Because what he has done is fundamentally change the way the game is played. He has changed, for the better, the behavior in and perception of the NFL.
We know that he did this. We know how he did this. And it's changing us.
If he has his way -- which he'd never ask for, he'd just lead by example and watch it spread -- the NFL will change. What is acceptable behavior for an NFL player will no longer be different than what is acceptable behavior for any other human being. If his way spreads, the NFL will have to think about how their behavior, and the behavior of their player-ambassadors, impacts the world around them.
For better or worse (and I dare say, usually far worse) NFL players are role models for future generations. And sadly, it is those who start with the greatest disadvantages in life who seem to cling most to the heroic rise of these players. They model their lives and behavior after them.
Pete Carroll has brought out the best in a roster of amazing men. He, with them, has set a new standard.
He has turned a die-hard hater of the NFL into an almost-fan. Oh, who are we kidding, I'm counting down the days until the Super Bowl. And I am no longer afraid to watch it with my three daughters. I'm fine with these men being set up as examples. For all of us.
Perfectly imperfect, and striving to do, and be, good. Yeah.
And yes, this normally catastrophically uptight and emotionless city is on fire. It feels awesome. I hope this fever never ends.
Re-Pete. Re-Pete. Re-Pete.
I am forever grateful, Mr. Carroll, for what you have done for Seattle. For football. For the men on your team and the people who look up to them.
And, whether you meant to or not, for the world at large. Your gentle leadership around issues that matter is a win for us all.
And I REALLY WANT A PETE CARROLL JERSEY! I guess I'm going to have to make my own!
By Alyssa Royse
Photo Credit: Flickr/Anthony Quintano
This post was previously posted on The Good Men Project.
For more from The Good Men Project Sports, join their Facebook Page!