Carroll knew Seahawks were taking a risk with Harvin

RENTON — The Seattle Seahawks were taking a risk when they acquired Percy Harvin in a trade last year, no one knew that more than head coach Pete Carroll.

Because he recruited Harvin when the receiver was still a star at Landstown High School in Virginia Beach, Virginia, Carroll had a lot of background both with Harvin’s talents, as well as the potential for trouble.

So when Carroll was asked Monday how long he had known that Harvin, who was traded to the New York Jets on Friday, could potentially be an issue for his team, the coach’s answer was very telling.

“I’ve known Percy since he was in high school,” Carroll said. “We recruited him in high school — didn’t get very close to getting him — but I’ve followed him for a long time.”

It’s possible that Carroll either misunderstood or misheard the question, but it certainly sounded like he was saying that he knew all along that bringing Harvin to Seattle was a risky proposition. Carroll said Monday morning on his weekly radio show on 710 ESPN Seattle that he was disappointed Harvin’s tenure in Seattle didn’t work out, “because I told (general manager John Schneider) I’d get this done, I thought I could, when we made the decision.”

Harvin, of course, isn’t the first high-profile player with potential character red flags to play under Carroll in Seattle. And some have worked out very well for the Seahawks, most notably running back Marshawn Lynch, while others haven’t, like former USC standout running back LenDale White or receiver Terrell Owens, who both had very brief stays in Seattle.

Carroll sees himself as a coach who can reach players and help them be their best, while also being flexible enough himself to understand that not all players can be handled the same. So for Carroll, the Harvin trade not working out felt like something of a failure. Carroll is one of the most optimistic people you’ll ever meet, so when he can’t make something work out the way he wants it to, it’s a letdown.

“Forever in my recruiting days, and being in the league, I’ve coached all kinds of different guys — and this isn’t going to surprise you — but I’ve always felt like it was going to work out, that I’m going to be able to figure out a way to make it work,” Carroll said. “With everybody that we decide to bring into this program, we do it for a specific reason with great consideration, and we have a plan, we have a vision for how it’s going to go, and we didn’t quite get there.”

Because the trade happened just before the team left for St. Louis on Friday, Carroll was in the odd position of having to announce it to his team while in transit.

Carroll said he went around the plane from player to player, and that “We had a really good talk about it. I talked with guys from across the board on our team. And I think it was pretty clear that it was accepted as the next thing we had to do and we did the right thing and on we go. It was a team decision.”

Carroll said his players were not upset about the trade, but acknowledged it was natural for some players to react in different ways to the news.

“I think they handled it really well,” he said. “They took it in stride, I think they trust our decision making; they’ve stood by us throughout. I don’t think there’s any fallout at all. Obviously you’re human, you react, you have a response to it, but I don’t think anybody had any problem. Everybody was getting to the business of playing football, so I think it was fine.”

The Seahawks lost to the Rams on Sunday, but they also had one of their better halves of the season on offense, scoring on three long touchdown drives to nearly come back from an 18-point deficit.

Asked if that performance was most representative of what he wants the offense to be, Carroll said, “I think so, yeah. That’s why we’re encouraged by it. We saw the whole run mechanism work together. Marshawn drew a lot of attention. Marshawn had a couple of runs called back that would have given him significant yardage in the game. His factor allowed (quarterback) Russell (Wilson) to get out a little bit on the edge. Then the third down situation in the second half, we were four out of five, it was very sharp, and that’s the way we like to look and much more in the direction we were hoping to go.”

Finally, at the end of the press conference, Carroll was asked about something reported by The Herald and many other news outlets Friday, which was that Harvin took himself out of the game against Dallas late in the fourth quarter. Carroll only responded, “He’s a Jet.”

Harvin is indeed a Jet, because as much as Carroll thought he could make things work with an athlete he has known for years, Harvin, for all of his physical gifts, just wasn’t a fit in Seattle.

Herald Writer John Boyle: jboyle@heraldnet.com

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