By John Boyle
With Pete Carroll leading his current team against the one that fired him more than a decade ago, a lot has been written about how he has changed as a coach after reinventing himself at USC (and even more will be written about it in Sunday’s Herald if you’re interested. Subtle plug, I know).
Well today we were fortunate enough to chat with somebody who has unique insight on that topic, retired Pro Bowl safety Lawyer Milloy, who played for Carroll in New England early in his career, and ended his career playing for the Carroll-led Seahawks.
Milloy happened to be in the Seahawks locker room after Friday’s practice catching up with former teammates, and when the topic of Carroll came up, Milloy said he definitely saw a change in the coach.
“Definitely,” Carroll. “When he came to New England, he got the job and I don’t think he had too much control. Obviously he lasted three years. The thing about it is, we went to the playoffs two out of the three years. As we were going into the fourth year, obviously Belichick was available, and the organization shot the gun and went a different direction.”
“Every coach, every organization is trying to find the recipe for winning, and sometimes you need something like that to happen to you, then you go to, like a USC, and you find that.
“He had an aha moment. I think he found that USC. Without USC, I don’t think, even if he got another shot in the NFL, I don’t think he would be as successful as he is. Finding his recipe played a crucial role in what he’s doing now.”
Milloy said Carroll’s personality didn’t change between NFL gigs, but rather than his approach and his ability to control a roster has created a different scenario in Seattle.
“Him as a person, he’s pretty much the same guy, a guy that loves football, that would get out there and interact with the players, all of that,” He said. “But just a little bit more business oriented right now. (Carroll) likes the atmosphere nice and loose, but now guys know that, if they don’t get the job done, he’s not afraid to move in a different direction.”
Carroll taking over the Seahawks job having accomplished so much at USC also gave him plenty of credibility even though he was coming from the college ranks.
“He had our respect in New England. But from a national standpoint, people didn’t know who he was then… Everybody knew him coming in this time. When the Patriots hired him after a big name like (Bill) Parcells left, it was like, ‘OK, who’s Pete (Carroll)?’ Now they knew who he was, that’s the difference. When he came to the Seahawks, guys already respected him. He commanded the room when he came in. It was a little different.”
Milloy of course was also asked who he was pulling for this week having played for both teams. He took the diplomatic approach, though he said he likes the Seahawks’ chances playing at home.
“I’m very neutral because of my personal relationships,” he said. “… This is the home team, so I always lean more towards the home team. That’s the thing about being retired, I’m nondenominational. I’m just an NFL fan. I can’t get fined for the things I say, but I also don’t want to lose relationships and friendships. It’s going to be a great game. Both teams match up well against each other. The Seahawks always got a chance at home, and I think that’s the reason why I’m swinging towards the Seahawks, at home I put my money on them at all times.
Oh, and Milloy also has the Seahawks defense on his fantasy team, so that may sway his rooting interest.
And finally, I’m not positive, but I’m pretty certain that the “aha moment” Milloy referred to went something like this: