RENTON – Seahawks coach Pete Carroll allowed himself time for celebrating Seattle’s Super Bowl title this offseason. But reflecting?
That, Carroll says, will come later.
He turns 63 on Sept. 15, and has now done just about everything there is in his chosen profession — Carroll, Jimmy Johnson and Barry Switzer are the only coaches to win both a Super Bowl and a college football national title.
Carroll, though, says any feeling of redemption for having proven he can succeed in the NFL after being fired in the 1990s by both the Jets and Patriots, is drowned out by a desire to get back to the immediate task at hand.
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It’s far from easy. Only eight teams have repeated as Super Bowl champions, and none since the 2004 New England Patriots.
But from almost the minute the Seahawks won Super Bowl XLVIII at MetLife Stadium on Feb. 2, Carroll began looking to this season, which begins Thursday at 5:30 p.m. against the Green Bay Packers,
“I just can’t get away from the thought that we are right in the middle of something,’’ Carroll said. “So I’m not one to call it and say ‘we have arrived and this is Shangri La’ or something.
“It (winning the Super Bowl) was a blast. But it’s fun to be in the middle of pushing to see how far we can go with this team and this opportunity. So there’s no space to really kick back and say ‘we’ve done all this and done all that.’ ’’
He’s long moved past the day of caring what the outside perception of him is.
Carroll had no clear idea where his coaching career was headed when he was fired by the Patriots after the 1999 season at the age of 48, spending the 2000 season consulting, doing charity work and even writing a football column for CNNSI.com.
During that year his “Win Forever” philosophy crystallized, and he vowed that if he ever got another chance, he’d truly do it his way.
That opportunity came a year later at USC, though the hire was met with some initial skepticism. The Trojans made runs at then-hot-coaching names Dennis Erickson and Mike Bellotti before hiring Carroll.
Within two years, Carroll had USC back to 10-win seasons, and himself back on the coaching fast track.
Annual offers to return to the NFL soon followed. But Carroll says it was the challenge, not the desire to prove anything, that eventually led him to take the offer from the Seahawks in 2010.
“I don’t feel (redemption) at all,’’ he said. “I understand why that would be a logical thing (to think he’d feel). But if I would have had that kind of thinking, it got all washed away at USC.
“I never took it that way, the way you would think, like I was cheated or something during (his previous NFL stints). It happened as it happened, and I never really bought into (thinking) that I couldn’t coach or that I didn’t know how to do it. I just thought we needed the right opportunity and we would be able to do it.’’
Four years later, he proved it in Seattle. And if that seems fast to anyone who remembers the combined 9-23 records of the two seasons before he arrived, he insists he still thinks it should have happened more quickly.
“Because I wouldn’t allow myself to think any other way,’’ Carroll said.
Now that the Seahawks are good, how do they stay good? Carroll says it’s by doing everything the same as he always has.
“We haven’t changed anything,’’ he said.
When Carroll is reminded how difficult repeating has been historically, he thinks back to his years at USC, when the Trojans won seven straight conference titles.
He says it got to the point that winning there felt “normal for us. … So when we get back to that point it doesn’t feel brand new, one-time only, or that it may never happen again.
“It may never happen again, I don’t know. But that’s not the way we think. We are not operating that way, and we are not mentally prepared to think that way.’’
Certainly, there seems a pretty wide-open window for the Seahawks. They suffered some personnel losses in the offseason that will change the dynamic of the team. But the core of the Super Bowl team remains, and Seattle also has locked up key players. Safeties Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor and cornerback Richard Sherman signed through the 2017 season, and Seattle is expected to extend quarterback Russell Wilson’s contract after this season.
Carroll himself got a new deal after last season that takes him through the 2016 season. So did general manager John Schneider.
Carroll insists that’s no indication of how long he wants to coach. While he’s all about what’s next, he’s not worried about what’s too far down the road.
“I really don’t even think about the timeline of it,’’ he said. “I don’t even know how to. I’m not looking to the end, not looking for it to end. I’m just having fun balling. We know where we are for the next few years, and we are going to try to do everything we can to make it as cool as possible.’’