When 69-year-old Tom Coughlin was forced out by the New York Giants last week, 64-year-old Pete Carroll became the oldest coach in the league.
Asked about that distinction on KIRO Radio on Friday, the Seattle coach cracked that he has been lobbying for 67-year-old Mike Holmgren, who coached the Seahawks for 10 years, to get another job so Carroll wouldn’t be the oldest.
But age certainly hasn’t slowed Carroll, who is as energized this season as he has ever been.
“I’m having a blast,” he told KIRO’s Dori Monson. “I’ve never had more fun.”
That certainly bodes well for Carroll re-upping after this season. His contract runs through 2016, and — fortunately for Seattle fans — he doesn’t seem inclined to leave any time soon.
As the Seahawks prepare to play the Vikings in frigid Minnesota in a wild-card game, Carroll is seeking his eighth playoff win as coach of the Hawks. He already owns half the franchise’s 14 postseason wins over its 40-year history, plus the only Super Bowl title.
Of course, pretty much everyone thinks he should have one more — and that loss in Super Bowl XLIX surely drives him even more than he was driven before. He said last week that the biggest challenge to this season was coming back from that loss.
“We had to get through last year. We had to get through the finish to the season,” he said. “There was no question it had a big impact.
“There was a lot of stuff that happened in this offseason that had an impact. It’s no different than what happened the year before, when we won the whole thing and we had all of the stuff that went on and all the hullabaloo and the parades and everything.
“Every season it’s something,” he added. “It could be personnel losses, coaches, players, quarterbacks leave, whatever. Things happen. You have to deal with it. That’s just a microcosm of life. You have to deal with stuff and then you move ahead. You have to deal with it properly and put it in the right place and then get on. It just took us some time. I think we had some hangover from it.
“Look at the history of the teams coming out of the Super Bowl. How well are they doing the next year? It’s a most challenging event to endure for a program and staff and players and fans. I’m proud to say we’re still fighting, and here we go again.”
That’s what drives Carroll — adapting and overcoming the challenges each season to get to the point where the Seahawks are now, with a chance to win it all again.
His theme is Win Forever, and his team-record four straight seasons with at least 10 wins is a good start. But he clearly wants more.
He revealed the source of that theme last week: It sprouted from his first game as coach of the Jets, back in 1994, when his team beat the four-time AFC champion Buffalo Bills.
After the game, before boarding the bus home, Carroll walked back into the stadium to take in the moment, and he noticed all of the AFC championship banners on the wall.
“That was the moment that it hit me (and) that has affected me ever since — that to be really good at something is not to just get there and do it one time,” he said. “To be really good at something, what really meant something to me was to do it over and over and over and over again so that you can prove who you are and prove what you’re worth and prove that you can withstand the changes and adaptations that are there.
“That’s where winning for a long period of time became the essence of what I’m working to achieve,” Carroll said. “That’s why a record that you make in one year, you get the ring and all that stuff, that’s great, it’s awesome, it’s fun. But coming back and doing it again, coming back and showing you’re worthy again, is the great challenge. That’s where I find my greatest inspiration …”
Carroll also has said his goal is “to do it better than it has ever been done.” Because he messed up his chance to win consecutive Super Bowls and thus be going for an unprecedented third straight, the Seahawks are not in position to be the best team in history — yet. But he finally has his best team — the best in franchise history (won-lost record notwithstanding) — and surely looks forward to replicating it the next few years as he strives to accomplish his goal.
So, after this season concludes — hopefully with a Super Bowl title — you can expect the league’s oldest coach to sign a new contract that goes for another three or four years. Marv Levy coached the Bills until he was 72 — and Carroll is a young 64 — so it is even possible Carroll will go past 2020 with the Seahawks.
And you can expect them to continue to be in position to win the Super Bowl every year at this time for as long as Carroll has the drive and inspiration to Win Forever.