Pete Carroll’s No. 1 rule is “Protect the team.” While Russell Wilson “challenged” that rule earlier this offseason with his public complaints (which actually violated Carroll’s Rule No. 2), Carroll followed Rule No. 1 to the letter Wednesday as he spoke to reporters for the first time this offseason.
While Wilson and his camp clearly were the ones who drove the drama train, playing the victim card against Carroll himself, the coach stood up for his quarterback and blamed it all on media speculation that the coach declined to end.
Carroll made it clear he was not happy about the “uncomfortable” drama, especially the part Wilson’s agent played, but he has made peace with his quarterback and was not about to give it up in this press conference. So he shot the messengers while taking a credibility bullet himself.
Let’s look back at the facts of this case and remind everyone what really happened and how we got from there to here:
On Feb. 8, Jason La Canfora passed along word that “Wilson’s camp” was “frustrated” over protection issues.
The next day, Wilson confirmed those thoughts in interviews with Dan Patrick and Seattle reporters. Patrick kind of goaded him into giving real answers; Wilson eventually relented and then remained candid when he talked to local writers a short time later. His key statement: “I’m frustrated with getting hit too much.”
That displeased Carroll, whose top two rules involve protecting the team and not complaining or whining. He said he talked to Wilson about his inflammatory comments. “There was some stuff that was said that had to be dealt with, and it has been.”
But it was far from over. Wilson’s agent, Mark Rodgers, and other mouthpieces then piled on, basically trying to wage a PR battle against Carroll and seemingly thinking they could usurp his authority via the airwaves. They painted Wilson as the victim of an old-school sports despot.
This drama really blew up when Rodgers gave Adam Schefter the infamous list of four teams. That came across as a passive-aggressive trade request, and the Chicago Bears answered Rodgers’ dog whistle. John Schneider rebuffed the Bears and went about restocking Seattle’s roster over the next month, and that took things from “frosty” to a “tenuous peace,” to use NFL insider Mike Silver’s words.
Carroll was clearly unhappy with Rodgers over that list though, and Schneider talked to the agent about it while telling teams he was not trading Wilson. “When that came out, it opened up other conversations,” Carroll said. “It was so meaningless because it had nothing to do with what was going on. … I wish we could have avoided that.”
That list was reported Feb. 25, the same day The Athletic published its expose on the supposed broken relationship between the franchise and its QB. That daily double rip reportedly made things tense between the sides for a couple of weeks as the aforementioned conversations were had.
Once free agency began in mid-March, right after Schneider declined the Bears’ offer, Wilson was very engaged — helping recruit players in some cases and offering public approval of many moves.
Carlos Dunlap assuaged a lot of fan fears in early April when he said he had talked to Wilson before re-signing and the QB had said he was “here to stay.” One of Wilson’s mouthpieces, Brandon Marshall, flipped his stance that week as well, saying, “Russ and Pete Carroll are on the same page. I think their relationship is probably better than it’s ever been.”
Carroll, for his part, says he and Wilson have “a long future ahead of us.”
But Wilson has made it very clear the future depends on whether they take the next step, back to the Super Bowl.
So, as much as Positive Pete wants to paint a picture of renewed kumbaya and team solidarity, we’ll just have to wait and see what the Seahawks do in the 2021 season – and then what Wilson says next February.