He’s almost 65, but Carroll knows this is a team with the talent to get back to the Super Bowl. And he can’t imagine retiring. “I have no end to this,” he said.
It’s the first day of Seahawks training camp, and Pete Carroll is jacked up.
You know he’s jacked because after the workout, he says so, twice, and it’s the breathless voice of a truly jacked man. You also know because he has a grass stain on the right knee of his white khakis, the result of some exuberant hands-on coaching.
You know because you’ve watched Carroll throughout the two-hour workout, exuding energy and enthusiasm. As players warm up, he’s firing 30-yard spirals, running here and there, greeting and encouraging, bouncing around like a kid at his birthday party.
“I’ve got to be careful, or I might be a little out of control here,’’ he says afterward.
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Yeah, Carroll always acts like he OD’d on Mountain Dew. It’s part of his DNA. But he says he can’t remember ever approaching a season with the excitement and anticipation of this one.
Maybe he says that every year, but there are some reasons for Carroll to have an extra bounce in his step. He knows this is a team with the talent to get back to the Super Bowl. And he believes they have just a little extra motivation from having missed out on that last year. Everyone is here, too, even Michael Bennett. No holdouts, which makes Carroll’s heart even gladder.
“They’re very determined, very tuned in to what the opportunity is, and they don’t want to miss it,’’ he said.
Carroll certainly doesn’t want to miss any of it, ever. That’s why he won’t even entertain the “r” word — retirement. He enters this season with the security of a three-year contract extension signed last week. That brings him through the 2019 season, but Carroll makes it clear that you’re looking at it the wrong way if it’s through the prism of a conclusion, an end point.
“That’s just the next stop along the way,’’ he said. “I know you guys are wanting to know, how long is he going to coach or whatever. I have no end to this. I don’t see it. I’m just going for it. I’m going to go as long as it’s fun and it’s good and we’re winning games and all of that.”
Carroll is now the oldest coach in the league at 64. If he makes it to 72, he’d tie Marv Levy and George Halas as the oldest coaches in NFL history. That’s provided Carroll is really 64, which defies all logic. His birth certificate says yes, but our eyeballs say, that’s impossible. No one can have this much vitality at 64.
They used to call the eternally-youthful Dick Clark “America’s oldest teenager.” Carroll has assumed that title.
“I don’t feel any different than I’ve felt,’’ he said. “As a matter of fact, I feel better. I’m under my playing weight. I’m in great shape. I’m ready to go.”
Carroll’s extension came a few days after Seattle general manager John Schneider landed a five-year extension through 2021. Carroll stressed that it was important for Schneider to get his deal done first.
“I didn’t want to do this without John,’’ he said, “and I wanted to make sure there were no issues with that. … He’s a tremendous partner, he’s a great general manager, and he’s doing nothing but great stuff. We needed to do this together. I knew I wasn’t going anywhere; I wanted to make sure we couldn’t get him out of here.”
Carroll was asked what it meant that Schneider is signed for two years longer than him.
“That he’s a younger man,’’ he said. “I guess he wants more security. I didn’t care about that. Didn’t matter to me.”
Carroll realizes it still might not be clear to all how he’s viewing this stage of his career, and he strives to clarify. It’s not some sort of countdown to the finish line. He won’t even acknowledge the existence of a finish line.
“I don’t even want to think THAT,’’ he said. “There ain’t no last stop. Just keep going. I know you guys are wondering, if this is what 65 gets you. I’m jacked up, I’m ready to go. I don’t have any other thought about that.
“If you guys are worried about being 65, OK, well, look at me. It’s not bad. I think it’s pretty fun. If I could help you out some, I’d be happy to.”
Carroll, mind you, doesn’t actually turn 65 until September, but at the feverish pace he runs through life, maybe he arrived early. After the workout, he was still flying high, generously tossing out accolades in the direction of virtually every player he was asked about.
Mike Morgan is “as rock-solid as we can hope for.” Bennett is “a tremendous team player,” and Kam Chancellor “has been a big inspiration.” Christine Michael looked “fantastic.” Frank Clark is “going to be really special.” Brandon Browner is “a monster of a football player … he just jumps out. I’m excited because I love unique players, and he’s one of a kind.”
And so on, and so forth. At one point, Carroll was asked if this was a big year for the oft-injured Jordan Hill.
“It’s a huge year,’’ he answered quickly. “It’s a huge year for everybody.”
I now know what 65 feels like, at least in the guise of Pete Carroll. It feels like a jacked-up man, perennially at home on the football field and absolutely itching to get another year going.