No need to remind Pete Carroll he is the oldest coach in the NFL.
There’s really no need to remind Carroll that his is a prime age for high risk amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“I’m no different than anybody else … whatever. I know what the stats are,” the Seattle Seahawks’ 68-year-old leader said on an online Zoom call from his team’s sheltered, unprecedented training camp Monday.
“Matter of fact, my wife (Glena) and I, we’ve dug in. We’ve spent this entire (pandemic) time studying every aspect of this thing in every way that we can, just a couple at home, knowing the responsibility that we bear. For everybody, in trying to guide and lead and make choices and decisions.
“We felt such a responsibility for the care of everybody that we’ve been really disciplined about it.
“As far as being however old I am, I’m taking it as a personal challenge,” Carroll said. “If I happen to get this stuff, I’m going to kick (butt) on this stuff. If I don’t, it’s going to be because I’ve been able to find a way to luck my way through it. Because this is a very treacherous thing that everybody is dealing with. We’ve got, hopefully have good fortune along the way, as well as having great discipline.”
On Sunday the Philadelphia Eagles announced coach Doug Pederson tested positive for COVID-19. Pederson, from Ferndale and 16 years younger than Carroll, has left the Eagles to quarantine for two weeks. He is “asymtomatic and doing well,” his team said.
Pederson’s COVID-19 case prompted some to wonder again how Carroll feels about coaching this season.
True to his sunnyside-up persona, he says he feels great — in fact, downright buoyed — about it.
It’s clear by the conviction and tone of his words that Carroll is intent on living through the COVID-19 virus the same way he is demanding his Seahawks players live during the 2020 season, in order to have one: responsibly and with self-discipline off the field.
That means not going out recklessly with large groups of people. It means strictly adhering to social-distancing requirements. It means limiting the circle of family and friends with which each player interacts. It means wearing masks in the facility, outside it, just about everywhere.
Carroll has challenged his captains, franchise cornerstones Russell Wilson and Bobby Wagner, plus veterans such as K.J. Wright, the longest-tenured Seahawk, to stress to younger players the importance of adhering to the coach’s No. 1 rule: Protect the team.
“We are not going to be able to go and do the things that we do,” Wagner said last week as training camp began.
“Luckily, we are in Seattle, so there aren’t really any clubs or things of that nature that … you know, to go out to.
“But just understanding that you need to be more conscious in your surroundings. You have to really be mindful of who you trust, as far as, what are they doing outside of the (team) building. You have to earn your trust in this situation. You have to make sure you are mindful of the guys around you, make sure you are mindful of the people that you keep around you, and understand what’s at stake.”
This NFL season, Carroll’s top rule of protecting the team means protecting yourself — from situations that increase the chance of catching the virus. That would change depth charts, game plans, and thus Seattle’s chances at winning and going to the Super Bowl.
“It’s really important for me to take it head-on, and deal with it, in a way,” Carroll said. “I am so disappointed that we weren’t tough enough, nationally. We weren’t tough enough. We were too soft on it. We couldn’t hang. We have to let up and find ways and excuses for not maintaining the discipline that it takes to beat this thing back.
“So I am hoping in our program here that we can set an example. I don’t know how it’s going to turn out, but I hope we set a great example on what it takes to do this. In six months from now we are still going to be involved. So this season, as we play it out, maybe we learn something. Maybe we can help some other people. Maybe we can inspire somebody if we are fortunate enough to do well and do right, to beat this thing that’s disrupting everything.
“So, personally, I mean, I don’t think it will surprise that I am competing my butt off to do this well, and right, and hopefully I can affect those that I can reach in the program, and we can alter this.
“Really important stuff.”