After canceling practice Saturday, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll met with players. He was clearly moved by their words, as well as the events of the week and of the last several months, not to mention the past four centuries.
He took to the Zoom podium to offer a 15-minute monologue about race in America, cajoling his national coaching cohort to stand firm with him, and most poignantly to share the fears Black players were feeling in one of the most fraught times in American history.
He took no questions. The Seahawks are scheduled to have a final training camp scrimmage at 1 p.m. Sunday.
Below is a transcript of Carroll’s thoughts, lightly edited for clarity. My column on the topic will post at 6 a.m. Sunday.
It’s just a really big day a lot of ways. So I want to talk to you guys about some stuff. It’s on my heart and because of the environment that I live in here, and work with our guys. It kind of starts here.
I’ve been coaching for a really long time. I mean, I’ve been coaching since I was 13 years old. I was coaching Pop Warner kids, so that’s over 50 years.I’ve had the the good fortune of spending a career in the midst of an environment and a culture that it isn’t normal for the outside world. We’ve been in a world of diversity forever, as far as I can go back.
So I’ve had the good fortune of different lessons from other people. With all of those years, I’ve never learned more than I’ve learned, really, in the last 20 years in particular, at SC and then here. But in particular, just the last six or so years with what we’ve gone through and what we’ve dealt with. It has been enlightening.
In so many ways, it seems like a lot of years that we spent coaching and nothing really happened, didn’t learn a whole lot. But in these last half-dozen years or so, I’ve realized how crucial it is to keep growing and to keep learning and to keep competing to figure out how you can do things better. In essence, that everybody needs to continue to be coached up. We always have a chance to get better and learn more.
I’m still curious. As I stay curious, I keep growing and learning because of the environment and the people that I’m around. There’s a lot of coaches out there, men and women in all different sports, that are in leadership positions that really have an impact on a lot of people. This is a calling today for all coaches, specifically, to take that leadership opportunity and address all of the situations that we can address with our players and the people that are around the programs. At least I can touch on the coaches and get to them.
This summer (Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr) and I did a podcast (“Flying Coach”) with the thought of, ‘Let’s see if we can get on the topics that people aren’t willing to talk about.’ Let’s see if we can we can talk about race, about diversity and inclusion, and let’s see how far we could go with the guests.
I thought, OK, this is three white guys talking to the world about what it’s like to grow up and live in a world of diversity. See if we could share some of our experiences that we had, in our awareness of what people need, and where they’re coming from, (for) other people (who) don’t have the the opportunity to be in that kind of environment and might need to know. We wanted to kind of enlighten and educate, if we could, based on the experiences that we had.
Sorry Steve. I think we didn’t go far enough. I loved the time, but we didn’t quite get as deep as we needed to, as far as we needed. Then as things just kept popping in all of the issues have come to light . . .We were on the right topic, we just didn’t get there.
Today I’m gonna try to get there.
Coming back to camp this year, we entered with so many (national) issues. So many things going on: The pandemic, George Floyd, social issues, political issues. It’s just been an incredible off-season. Now (the Seahawks) are finally together working, 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 lives of black men and women are like in America.
They’ve been compelled to to speak out more than ever. There’s been less fear and less concern of what’s gonna happen. I love our environment, such that our guys are willing to say what they want, and they’re OK about that which we need to hear, because this has been a process of truth-telling, and in reality checks.
That brings me to a point where we’re speaking about all that’s going on. This is about racism in America that white people don’t know. They don’t know enough and they need to be coached up. They need to be educated about what the heck is going on in this world.
Black people can’t scream anymore. They can’t march any more. They can’t bare their souls anymore to what they’ve lived with for hundreds of years, because white guys came over from Europe and started a new country, with a great idea and a great ideals that wrote great writings and laws (about) democracy and freedom and equality for all. And then it ain’t happened.
It’s not what happened, because we went down this this other road here, followed economics in which white guys made money, and they put together a system of slavery. And we’ve never left it. Really, it’s never gone away. The really amazing thing that I’ve learned is black people know the truth. They know exactly what’s going on. It’s white people that don’t know. It’s not that (Black people) aren’t telling us; they’ve been telling us the stories that we know what’s right and what’s wrong. We just have not been open to listen to it. 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 we’ve been basing things on false premises. It has not been about equality for all. It has not been about freedom for all, not been for opportunity for all. And it needs to be, because this this is a humanity issue that we’re dealing with. This is a white people’s issue, to get over it and learn what’s going on. To figure it out, and start loving everybody that is part of our country, and that want to come to our country, wherever they want to come from.
Our players are screaming at us: Can you feel me? Can you see me? Can you hear me? They just want to be respected. They just want to be accepted, just like all of our white children and families want to be.
There’s no difference, because we’re all the same. There’s a lot of people that don’t see it that way, but there’s a lot of people that do. I’m hoping that from this point forward, maybe there’s a there’s a new door to open for us, and we can we can walk through it together with the thought of doing what’s right.
Let’s try treating people equally. We know that our forefathers knew it. They wrote it all down, they just didn’t do it. They got caught up in making money and they figured out a way to do it. It meant persecuting and abusing an entire race of people.
So with the media as it is, with all of the exposure, it ain’t like 1860s, it’s not like 1960s when civil rights came through, we had three channels to watch. Well the media is on it. Nothing happens that we don’t know and don’t see now. Everybody has a voice and we all are seeing the truth of how black people are being treated in our streets.
Law enforcement is a huge issue to our guys, because they’re frightened for their lives, they’re fighting for the lives of their loved ones and their children. They’re frightened, because they don’t know what’s going to happen, because of what we continue to see.
So they’re crying out again, calling for us white people to figure it out and to listen and and to fix all of the obvious problems that we know. We all know it’s it’s out there. We got to do the right thing by caring for people, and loving people because they deserve it, simple as that.
So I’m calling on all you coaches: Let’s step up. No more being quiet. No more being afraid to talk to topics. No more, you know, I’m a little bit uncomfortable, I might lose my job over this, because I’ve taken a stand here or there.
Screw it. We can’t do that anymore.
And maybe if we do, we can be a leadership group that stands out. Maybe others will follow us.
“But it’s not just for coaches. I just know that I might have a better ear listening to me when I’m talking to coaches. It’s about education. It really is. Education. It’s not about education in the book so much anymore. We all know the history was screwed up. We all know that. It’s we have to learn really what’s going on so we can feel our people, so that we can respond.
“We know all the issues that we need to address. So what do we do about it? How do we act on it? How do we help?
Can you imagine how long black people have hung together with the faith, in the hope that something’s gonna change, it’s gonna be better? Unbelievable endurance, unbelievable competitiveness, to just keep hanging. I don’t know. I mean, I’m so moved by all of that. I can’t even imagine how they have been able to do things under these circumstances that have been terrible. But they’re still hanging and they’re still hoping.
Racism’s going out the door. It’s got to be gone. It’s got to be out the frickin’ door, and get rid of it. It’s got to go. We have to figure out the way to get that done. It needs to be spoken, to all the different issues, whether it’s education, whether it’s health considerations, whether it’s a voting rights, whatever. All of the different elements that are so screwed up, we need to go attack every one. We know what they are. They’re out there. We got to stop the people that are getting in the way.
Here’s one point on what can we do.
We got 60 days. There’s the March on Washington that was all about commitment. Well, why not take these 60 days and make a commitment to get everybody in this country to vote, so that everybody has the voice and everybody that that needs to speak out is heard. We don’t let anybody squelch any aspect of the voting, of potentially not one frickin’ vote (lost). We need to start now. We need to start the process of registering to vote.
All of our players will be officially registered today. That’s a start. Sixty days to march, a commitment to vote. Can we get that done? We can. We can do that. At least that’s proactive right now because the hardest part is what do you do? How do you help?
“Well, first we get educated, we start working on ourselves and try to understand really what’s happening. My guys, it’s unequivocal. There’s no question what’s happened — they’re living scared to death. And it’s no longer – it never was — OK. It’s just now that we see so vividly what is going on we have to get it stopped now.
I hope somebody’s listening, because we have to create the change. We got to be the change. Coaches let’s us be the ones leading your communities. We’re in communities everywhere across this country, all over the place, and all the different sports. Hear me — let’s go let’s get this done.
And at least get our people to activate. Then there’s so many more things to do. There’s so many important things. Follow your heart, and do what you can. Like our players talked about today, they they live in fear of speaking their piece. I’ve reminded them that not everybody’s the same; not everybody’s as bold as the next person. But if you are bold, and you want to speak out. go ahead. If you aren’t, and you want to do something else, go ahead do your thing.
It’ll help all of us. It’ll help all people of color. It’ll help all people that want to come to our country. It’ll help the poor people in our country that aren’t black or brown. It’ll help all of us if we start doing the right thing.
I’ll finish with this thought.
There’s only one way to do this. Really, you got to do it by caring. You have to care so much, and show the love for the people that deserve every bit of the rights to be treated equally and treated fairly and treated straight up in honestly; so they can get in their car and go to the store and feel safe getting out from the parking lot and going in. Because they don’t feel like that right now.
That’s the truth and white people don’t understand that.
Keep listening and watching. They are not able to be fearless, they’re not able to be like you are. They just want to have the freedom and the comfort and the security of living a good life and loving through all of their family exchanges and opportunities.
I really want to thank the the people that continue to influence and do so many great things. There’s so much great work being done, and the personal friends that I have that have helped me understand, help me work at it.
Our coaching world is different than everybody else’s world. We’re fortunate, but that doesn’t mean we all act right and doesn’t mean we all know everything. But I appreciate the inspiration that was received from so many.
Finally, I would say it’s the inspiration from the players. We need to listen to them. They’ve got wisdom, and they’ve got power, and they’re just sensing what they’re capable of doing.
We need to hear them. When we do that, we’ll follow the right lead and good things will happen.
Thanks. I’m out.
I agree wholeheartedly about the “false” history taught in schools. I loved history and was a firm believer in all of the U.S. accomplishments from our inception. Things like Manifest Destiny and how we settled the west with no mention of what we did to people who already lived on the lands. No mention of how many treaties we broke and continue to do so to this very day. How every time we go to war it is for a righteous cause (27 years Air Force here). We always do right, never wrong which is why God blesses Us and no other country in the world.
The history-textbook writers post-WWII generally told a generation of kids all about the winning side, with a big dollop of communist fear. It wasn’t all misleading, but there were lots of blank pages that were filled by teachers with nervous coughs.
Awesome to hear Coach Carroll acknowledging the problems with racism that is rampant in America today. Typically he’s like Russell Wilson and by and large sticks to football. I’m not sure he’s going as far as Gregg Poppovich of the Spurs has, he would have come right out and say the problem is POTUS, but the Seahawks coach was lightly going in that direction. The fact that college and professional sports is a billion dollar industry in the US shows that those in sports are in a position of influence, most especially with coaches since they guide the players. The days until the upcoming election will be an opportunity to guide others to make informed choices and most especially to register to vote if they haven’t already. Something that the Seahawks implored their players to do today. These are divided times and being the head coach Coach Carroll has to find ways to unite players when division is within the team. Maybe he can impart some of that wisdom to the public. If the problem cannot be resolved then the Seahawks will get rid of that problem player. So what does that say about America? When the lines of division have worsened since Barack Obama left office?
There are political and racial divisions on every team, but players and coaches are paid lots of money to subsume them for the greater good. Real life doesn’t work that way. I don’t think Carroll or any sports figure can force enlightenment on the other side. The best sports can do is be a place where athletes can learn acceptance of differences, setting an example for others. Racism is a fundamental global human trait that can’t be overcome while we’re sliding back.