As humanity approaches the limit of its own horizon, before it disappears into the boundless void of its own self-destructive hubris, it can be worthwhile to pause and consider what we want out of all of this. I do not think it is (essentially) what we need, or what we think is right, or what serves us best at any given moment. While we spin around together on this little dot; living alongside, smashing into, creating, and destroying each other, we need one thing that offers us succor and safety. We need belief.
For years, I have believed in the Seahawks with Pete Carroll. They have rarely been the smartest team in the sport. If they were ever on the cutting edge of any tactical ideology, they’ve long since abandoned it for familiar, well worn philosophical surrounds. It’s all but impossible to parse if the talent that forged their generational defense was brought about through genius or butterfly effect. But what I know is I believed in the Seahawks because of one sole attribute they appeared to possess more in than any other team.
They believed in themselves.
That sounds a bit like something you’d listen to Tony Robbins say while you spend the weekend burning your soles on hot coals, and maybe it is. The Carroll Seahawks have always been the world’s most thrilling self actualization seminar only slightly less than they have been one of the best football teams in the world. At its core, the organization believes in convincing 50-75 men in the world’s least humane, most harmful sport that their pursuit of the best life for them and their families is not divergent from what is best for the team. That is, logically, and very easily noted, bullshit.
The bullshit, though, is what defines these Seahawks to me, and always has been. More than Super Bowls, divisions, comebacks, and Mary’s both hailed and failed, the essence of this team was in the pregames, when Earl Thomas would stretch next to Richard Sherman and say the dumbest, hokiest, most needlessly vulnerable thing a millionaire professional can say to another: “I love you boy.”
That feeling, one of purpose and brotherhood that transcends paychecks, scores, or down and distance is the mountaintop of the Pete Carroll philosophy, and one that this team had for an incredibly long time. I believed in it utterly until this past season. The reason I stopped is not because of any run/pass philosophical style, injury, age, win or loss. I stopped believing in it because it was clear that they had too. Whenever we lose something we love the instinct is to find cause and assign blame, but the simplest answer to the death of the LOB Seahawks is the true one, and the same for almost all loss, and that is that every single thing ends, and every one of us will eventually lose absolutely everything we cherish and hold dear.
For myself, a man with limited analytical knowledge of the sport, the 2018 Seahawks were never a question of how many times they ran the ball, formation counts, hip turn, get off, or coverage schemes. I wanted to see if Pete Carroll, here at the end of his career, could create one more team worth believing in. Could he convince all these men, most of whom could lose their life’s work in this profession with one snap of bad fortune, to believe in him, and themselves? Could he sell them the team’s offensive philosophy, recently voted 1992’s fourth most innovative offense? Could he lose Earl Thomas, the wellspring from which the very lifeblood of the LOB flowed, in the most publicly painful way, and convince young, largely unknown defensive players they could not only survive without him but thrive? Could he show us all that, with Russell Wilson back to living his games in bullet time, we could once again spend our Sundays with these men looking forward, instead of back?
I will leave you with one small statistical note before I close and let all the far smarter and more knowledgeable people I share this space with resume their work. We are in year seven (!) of Russell Wilson, Pete Carroll, and John Schneider together in Seattle. Here is the team’s 7-game record during that time:
It would be nice if the Seahawks were 6-1, or 7-0. The Rams are problematic. The schedule looming is difficult. We have, though, seen all this before. Many of the names are different, but the style, the process, the intent is all the same. Whatever merit or harm there is to the way this team sees as best for itself on Sundays, the men charged with giving that vision life seem fully and wholly unconcerned. They look, in their glorious, ferocious, often bafflingly stupid way, exactly like the Seahawks . For me, that’s all the evidence I need.
I believe, Pete. I’m in.