Nearly six months after a crushing loss in Super Bowl XLIX halted the Seattle Seahawks’ quest for their second straight title, Pete Carroll hasn’t pushed the memory of the game’s waning moments out of his mind.
In fact, as the Seahawks’ head coach told Sports Illustrated’s Greg Bishop in an exclusive interview for this week’s cover story, his fateful decision to have quarterback Russell Wilson pass on second-and-goal from the New England Patriots’ 1-yard line with less than a minute remaining hasn't shaken him one bit. After grieving for all of one morning after Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler intercepted Wilson’s pass to seal a four-point New England win, the ebullient 63-year-old coach tasked himself with using the 28–24 defeat as a lesson for the upcoming season.
“It’s been thrilling to go through this,” Carroll said of the fallout from his play call. “It really is.”
Regarding the Super Bowl play call, Bishop writes, “Carroll believes he made the right call. He’s never wavered there. Where some people say ‘worst possible decision,’ he says ‘worst possible outcome.’ That’s his distinction, and he’s sticking to it. But that won’t stop the questions.”
“I know you want to find out—everybody wants to find out, the intrigue, the depth and all that,” Carroll says. “And how much it hurt.
“You’ll never know. I can’t make you understand. You pour everything in your life into something and—it goes right, it goes wrong—it’s in you. It becomes part of you. I’m not going to ignore it. I’m going to face it. And when it bubbles up, I’m going to think about it and get on with it. And use it. Use it!”
As Bishop details, Carroll has always overcome such missteps with unconventional methods. This summer, he hosted University of Pennsylvania psychology professor Angela Duckworth, whom Carroll had become aware of through a TED talk she gave, to share her findings on “how culture influences grit.” He’s also continued such easily-mocked mainstays of his time at USC such as Tell The Truth Monday or Competition Wednesday with traditionally more skeptical pro players, showing a rare devotion to his personality and his plan.
Says Carroll: “It’s much easier for me [to move forward] than most other people.”