What better way for the Seahawks’ San Francisco-born coach to celebrate his 62nd birthday than to roam the sideline at CenturyLink Field on Sunday night during his team’s home-opener against the NFCWest rival 49ers.
If ever there was a poster boy for the adage that your age is just a number, it’s Pete Carroll.
The energetic, enthusiastic and ever-optimistic coach of the Seahawks turns 62 on Sunday, and you’re invited to his “birthday bash” that evening when his team hosts the NFC West rival San Francisco 49ers in its nationally televised home opener at CenturyLink Field.
That’s the 49ers who hail from the city where Carroll was born on Sept. 15, 1951. The 49ers he rooted for, and dreamed of playing for, while growing up in Marin County. The 49ers Carroll worked for as their defensive coordinator in 1995-96. And, yes, the 49ers who stand in the path of the Seahawks regaining the division title they won in their first season under Carroll.
In just his fourth season with the Seahawks, Carroll’s words to play by – and live by – are the indelible brand he has put on every possible aspect of the talented collection of players he and general manager John Schneider have compiled. From the “I’m In” signs hanging above the doorways that lead to the practice fields at Virginia Mason Athletic Center, to the guests he brings in to speak to his players, to the infectiousness that is Pete just being Pete.
How to describe the way he whirls around the practice field? Or the joy he gets from joking with reporters during news conferences? Or the way his beyond-upbeat personality impacts players who are young enough to be his children – no, younger than his own children?
“Glena has always said it’s zeal,” Carroll said with a smile, referring to the way his wife describes whatever it is that effervesces from within.
Zeal: “Eager interest and enthusiasm; ardent endeavor or devotion; ardor; fervor.”
That’s Carroll, in 10 words or less. So zeal it is.
And it’s his zeal that is the seal this team is stamped with. It’s difficult to talk with one of the players for more than a few minutes before the first “As coach always says …” is inserted into the conversation.
Call it the zeal of approval.
“If you look around this locker room, we’re a reflection of the head coach,” wide receiver Golden Tate said. “You have a well-groomed group. I think we’re very close-knit. And we want to see each other succeed.
“And I think that speaks for the entire coaching staff, and really the whole organization. And Pete has a huge impact on how everyone around this organization carries themselves.”
Offered Russell Okung, the Seahawks’ Pro Bowl left tackle and Carroll’s first draft choice in 2010, “Pete, he’s a real positive guy. High enthusiasm every day. He really just relishes in life and the opportunity it brings. That’s how this team is. We have a lot of hungry guys and people who are really positive, too.”