By John Boyle Herald Columnist
RENTON — A week after Jim Harbaugh accused an opposing coach of making an “incendiary comment” in order to influence officiating, the 49ers coach did pretty much the same thing when he insinuated that Seahawks cornerbacks were playing too physical in last Thursday’s game.
And wouldn’t you know it, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll was more than willing to point out the double-standard on Monday.
“Wasn’t it just a couple weeks ago when they were talking about not doing things like that?” Carroll said on 710 ESPN Seattle. “The Giants, Kevin Gilbride, or something like that? You know, I thought there was something about that, you know? Where we don’t go out and express our concerns and all.”
Now we’re talking.
This would have been more fun in the week leading up to last week’s game, but better late than never, right?
After former Pac-10 rivals Carroll and Harbaugh played nice prior to their Thursday night NFC West showdown, their old feud — Carroll famously asked Harbaugh “What’s your deal” after Harbaugh went for two late in Stanford’s blowout win over USC in 2009 — seemed to gain a bit of new life in the days following the game.
Talking to reporters Friday after his team’s victory over Seattle, Harbaugh said he wanted to seek clarity from the league about what type of contact Seattle’s physical cornerbacks, Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman, could get away with.
“Yeah, I think that’s just an important thing to address,” Harbaugh told reporters. “I mean, what is this all being defined as? Is it physical play? Is it within the rules? I think that’s the biggest question: Is it within the rules what’s happening? We have to ask that question. We have to know what the interpretation is.”
And when Harbaugh was asked about his receivers, who combined for six catches, being “locked up” he said, “I wouldn’t use the words ‘locked up.’ There’s another word I would use. But we’ll take that up with the officials in New York and get their view of it.”
Now none of those quotes are particularly controversial — coaches and players criticize officiating all the time — but it just happened that Harbaugh seemed to be pointing out what he thought was rule-bending by an opponent just a week after he criticized New York Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride for an “outrageous, irrational statement” after Gilbride said 49ers defensive end Justin Smith “gets away with murder” committing defensive holding.
Carroll saw the irony it this whole situation, and had no problem pointing it out during his Monday morning radio show. Unfortunately for anyone who likes to stir things up, Carroll was more diplomatic following an afternoon practice, but he still said he had no problem with the play of his defensive backs.
“I just looked at the film, and I heard about the comments — I just wanted to see what was the point — and I thought that it was a very normal game,” Carroll said. “I thought our guys played really hard and tough, and they did too, and that was it. I don’t really know what the reference was about. I just hope it doesn’t go any farther, like to the league. There’s no need for it to.”
And yeah, neither coach is going to help his team by taking shots at the other, and yes, the media is probably playing this up too much, but you know what? It’s entertaining, and last I checked, sports are supposed to be entertaining. So keep it up, gentlemen, it will make for a fun week leading up to the late-December rematch.
Browner, who was not penalized in the game, wasn’t all that entertained with Harbaugh’s accusation, however.
“You’re supposed to be happy that you won the football game,” said Browner, who a year ago was the most penalized player in the NFL, but has not been called for pass interference or illegal contact yet this season. “… It’s obnoxious to me to be honest. You won the football game. We play a physical sport. You guys beat us.”
But even if Browner wasn’t amused, at least one of his teammates was. Receiver Doug Baldwin, who played for Harbaugh at Stanford, wrote the following on Twitter on Saturday: “Jim said Sherm and BB were playing too rough. Hahahahahahahahahahahahahaaahahahhahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha.”
Herald Writer John Boyle: firstname.lastname@example.org