Monday night’s win was big for the current Seahawks players. It was also big, apparently, for certain former Seahawks players who attended Russell Wilson’s return.
Appearing Tuesday on 710 ESPN Radio in Seattle, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll was asked whether the 17-16 victory was “validating.” Via Brady Henderson of ESPN.com, Carroll instead called the win “really rewarding,” especially for former players who attended the game. That group included cornerback Richard Sherman, running back Marshawn Lynch, receiver Doug Baldwin, defensive end Cliff Avril, and linebacker KJ Wright. They raised the 12 flag before the game started.
“I didn’t need the validation,” Carroll said. “I just wanted to win. I wanted to win for all of the reasons that come along with this one. Maybe as much as anything is representing the guys that have played before. It meant a lot to those guys. I was so thrilled to be able to hug those guys up and see them and look them in the eye.”
Carroll was asked why the win meant so much to the former players.
“You figure that out,” Carroll said. “It was really meaningful and they really wanted it and I knew we were playing for a lot more than just the regular stuff. We have a real connection with the history. . . . They feel it and they love the fact that they played here and they love seeing us do well. On this night, they realized there was a big opportunity and a big statement to be made. The game isn’t about an individual player here or there. It’s about team. This is the ultimate team sport and it’s been stated so many times before. It takes everybody.
“Sometimes when so much focus goes, it just rubs guys wrong I guess, or whatever. But I’m thrilled that we won that game. It was significant for a lot of reasons beyond just it’s the first game of the year and all that.”
Since Carroll invited others to figure it out, we will. Other players on the team resented Wilson, for a variety of reasons. Beyond being regarded by some players as a goody-two-shoes company man (some used to mock him with a high-pitched “Go Hawks!”) Wilson became bigger than the team, with his salary and his persona.
The resentment grew after Super Bowl XLIX, when in lieu of letting Lynch beastmode his way to the end zone the Seahawks called a pass from Wilson, which was intercepted. Eventually, Carroll and GM John Schneider could turn the page only by moving on from any and all anti-Russ players in the locker room.
And, as Carroll possibly would say if he were being candid, Wilson showed his gratitude by wanting more and, eventually, wanting out. He finally got what he wanted. And now Carroll has reverted to proving that “team” wins over “me.” In so doing, he has re-embraced various players on whom Carroll had to turn his back in order to properly support Wilson.
Now that Wilson is gone, Carroll can run his team the way he wants. As a team.