RENTON — A day after an emotional team meeting led to a decision to cancel practice — and then a roughly 15-minute statement by coach Pete Carroll to the media — the Seahawks got back to normal Sunday.
Or, as close to normal can be these days, anyway.
The team returned to the field for the last of their three mock games of training camp, which ended with Russell Wilson scrambling out of pressure to hit DK Metcalf in the back of the end zone to win the day for the offense, though only after Carroll waved off a possible sack and allowed the play to continue — a ruling the defense protested vehemently.
“Russ has eluded a lot of pass rushers in critical situations and I thought maybe he ducked out of there,” Carroll said later when he talked to the media via Zoom. “So I gave him that second chance to throw the ball. So they were really mad at me. That’s part of the job, you know. Comes along with the territory. They’re gonna be mad at you sometimes.”
But in the bigger picture, though, Carroll’s standing with his players might never have been higher.
Carroll’s decision to cancel practice and his subsequent statement came after a lengthy meeting on the grass berm that overlooks the team’s practice field in which he asked players to speak on their feelings about social injustice and police brutality.
In Carroll’s statement, he said every player would be registered to vote by the end of the day (players who weren’t already were given time Saturday to get that done) and said Black players on his team both fear for their lives and the ramifications for speaking out.
“You don’t have to be real bold to say what I said,” Carroll said Sunday. “… I don’t think that was anything courageous or anything. It was just stuff that needed to be said. And there’s a whole lot more that needs to be said.”
But to one of the team’s marquee players — safety Jamal Adams — Carroll’s actions spoke volumes.
It was Adams whom Carroll asked Saturday to speak first in the meeting.
Adams relayed a story of an incident when he was on a college recruiting visit (he didn’t want to say where) and with a few other players and recruits when three cop cars suddenly pulled up.
Adams said, “I did nothing,” but that a gun was pulled on him, anyway.
“I’ll never forget when the guy put us on the ground and found out who we were and said, ‘This is how we treat our players. You don’t want to come here,’ ” Adams said.
And the overall theme of Adams’ talk?
“I’m afraid,” Adams said Sunday. “I fear for my life as a Black man, and I shouldn’t fear for my life. … When I take off my Seahawks gear, I’m just another Black guy in the community, another Black guy in the street.”
Adams took to Twitter on Saturday to thank Carroll, general manager John Schneider and the organization “for really hearing us as Black athletes.”
Sunday, he revealed he also texted Carroll and Schneider to relay the same message.
“He has our back, I have his back,” said Adams, who was acquired by Seattle in a trade with the Jets last month. “I texted him last night and I thanked him. I thanked him and I thanked John. I thanked all of them, because they understand. They give us a voice. They give us a platform to use our voice. They let us be ourselves. They don’t judge us. And you can’t ask for that as a Black man, anymore, like you really cannot ask for (that). And for Pete and so many guys on the staff to understand our pain and understand our anger and sit there and listen and educate, that’s what it’s about.”
Adams might not have seemed the most obvious choice to speak first Saturday given that he has been with the team for only about a month.
Which, to Adams, made it even more meaningful.
“I thought that was really very powerful coming from him to me and him having the trust for me to start it off, you know with so many high-caliber guys here (like) Russ (Russell Wilson), Bobby (Wagner), K.J. (Wright),” Adams said. “So I didn’t take that lightly, man, and I think I set the tone. I think we had a great talk. And we’re going to continue to educate and continue to learn.”
The Seahawks called off practice not only for the tangible reason of giving players time to get registered, but also to continue drawing attention to police mistreatment of Black Americans and other social-justice issues.
“Does a top athlete have to go down for people to really listen and understand why?” Adams said. “… Wrong is wrong and right is right. As simple as that.”
That was the essence of Carroll’s message Saturday, as well.
Carroll said he’s gotten “a lot of positive response” from others in the coaching community after he also used his statement to say that coaches have a unique platform to try to effect change and more than ever need to not be afraid to use it.
And as Adams’ comments indicated, his players liked his statement, too.
“I’ve heard from some of our guys — quite a few,” Carroll said. “And, you know, we’ve been through a lot together in our time here and our discussions and the revelations that we’ve all had to work to come to in all. And so, the things that I said I don’t think surprised them at all. But they were happy to hear somebody say the things that were said.
“And really, I was speaking for everybody here. That wasn’t just a personal statement. I was speaking for where we have come to as an organization, really, and certainly as a team in this locker room. And so, they were just like, the things that were said were really things that I think, and they think, too, were things that needed to be said. So that was received OK by our guys.”