NFL teams have twice fired Pete Carroll as their head coach based upon wins and losses. In reflecting upon those personal setbacks, the Seattle Seahawks coach arrived at a moment of clarity: There are many ways to lose a job, but no one should behave timidly when tackling an important subject like fighting racism.
“No more, you know, ‘I might lose my job over this because I’ve taken a stand here,’” Carroll said over the weekend. “Screw it.”
Pete Carroll canceled the Seattle Seahawks’ practice Saturday
Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll held a news conference over the weekend during which he called for an end to racism. He urged NFL players and coaches to use their visibility to denounce what he termed as “a system of slavery” that has endured beyond the end of the Civil War and passage of the 13th Amendment.
Carroll, fired by the New York Jets after the 1994 season and the New England Patriots in 1999, went on to say white people need to be “educated about what the heck is going on in this world.”
Now beginning his 11th season in charge in Seattle, Carroll joined the ranks of other coaches who have taken time away from preparation for the 2020 season. Rather than practicing on Saturday, Seahawks players registered to vote, according to the team’s website.
“Well, why not take these 60 days and make a commitment to vote and march together to get everybody in this country to vote,” Carroll said during a video conference with reporters, “so that everybody has the voice, and everybody that needs to speak out gets heard, and we don’t let anybody squelch any aspect of the voting potential, not one fricking vote.”
White people ‘need to be coached up,’ Pete Carroll says
The 32 NFL teams are conducting training camp during a chaotic time – arguably more tumultuous than 1968, when the war in Vietnam, the civil rights movement, and assassinations converged. The COVID-19 pandemic alone qualifies 2020 as an extraordinary time because of disruptions to the economy and freedoms that most Americans had taken for granted.
The May 25 killing of George Floyd while being detained by Minneapolis police added a racial issue in the midst of political bickering that hasn’t dissipated since the 2016 and ’18 elections.
“It’s just been an incredible offseason and camp, and now we’re finally together, working,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. “But never before this year has it been so deep and so rich in the exchanges with our players, in how they’ve taken this opportunity to teach us more and deeper about what the life of a black man is like in America.”
Carroll, 68, characterized it as a time for all the country to become educated on the underlying issues that weren’t necessarily simmering below the surface but rather may have been ignored.
White people, according to the coach, “don’t know enough, and they need to be coached up, and they need to be educated about what the heck is going on in this world.”
The coach says this has been educational for him, too
Black players held 70 of the 90 spots on the Seattle Seahawks’ roster at the beginning of the summer, according to the News Tribune in Tacoma, Washington. That approximates what many NFL rosters look like.
Carroll credited his players for helping him learn about the pervasiveness and effects of racism in the country.
“This has been a process of truth telling and reality checks,” he said.
He added: “We’ve been unwilling to accept the real history. We’ve been taught a false history of what happened in this country, we’ve been basing things on false premises, and it has not been about equality for all, it has not been about freedom for all, it has not been opportunity for all, and it needs to be.”