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Danny O'Neil covers the Seahawks for The Seattle Times.



March 9, 2010 at 10:36 AM

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Pete Carroll's breakfast talk provides words to chew on

Posted by Danny O'Neil

Pumped and jacked.

Those have become the two oft-repeated elements of any imitation of Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, who speaks at a breakneck speed and is prone to using the phrase, "kick butt."

His energy came across in his two press conferences. He is so lively in fact that he jumps from topic to topic so quickly that at times he's jumping from one 75-percent-completed sentence to another.

Well, Tuesday morning was different.

Carroll spoke in a ballroom at the Fairmount Olympic Hotel at a breakfast put on by the Puget Sound Business Journal.

Once any footage is posted on Seahawks.com, it is worth watching for the insights it provided into his general philosophy and just his demeanor. He did talk about kicking butt. Twice actually, but he came across as both engaging, humorous and inspiring.

It wasn't a speech, but a Q-and-A session first with publisher Emory Thomas and later attendees. Thomas asked Carroll that with all the success he has had, how he dealt with setbacks, jobs he didn't get, games he didn't win.

"Where's this going," Carroll asked, deadpan. "First time I get to speak in Seattle?"

Self-deprecating is not a description applied to many NFL coaches, but Carroll pulled it off brilliantly. It took the edge off the room and set the tone for the session.

"I've been fired a number of times, and I'm done with that," Carroll said.

As far as nuts-and-bolts information about Carroll's plan for Seattle, there wasn't all that much, but here's a thumbnail sketch.

• Linebacker Aaron Curry is an example he cited of someone who could excel with an adjustment to his play and his role.

• Left tackle is a question going forward, though he pointed out there is no final resolution with regard to Walter Jones' retirement so the door remains open to Jones coming back.

• "You look at our strengths," Carroll said, "we have good kickers." That drew laughs, but Carroll wasn't slagging on everyone else. He complimented the caliber of the linebackers and praised Matt Hasselbeck's experience, but he also cited the need for playmakers. "We need to bring in some firepower," he said, "Players who will be scoring touchdowns."

• Seattle has a yoga coach, and yes, that's a first. Her name is Tanya, though the spelling might be off there so apologies if it's another spelling like Tania. This came up with a question about the effort a coach puts into players off the field.

But what was most enlightening was the way Carroll spoke about the underyling philosophy: "The central theme in our program is competing. We're competing with everything."

So he's not exactly setting the bar low, "We want to do things better than they've been done before with everything we do."

That quote now seems hokey kind of like the title for his book, "Win Forever" that will be published later this year. But Carroll had the room captivated. A full ballroom stood and clapped when it was over, no small feat at a breakfast where registration began before 7 a.m.

"Leadership is finding a comfort level with the people around you," Carroll said. "They'll go where you want to go."

How do you become that leader?

"Be it," he said. "Be the philosophy, be the approach, be the way."

Other notes: Willie Mays was a childhood hero of Carroll, and he got the chance to talk to Mays after USC beat Boston College in the Emerald Bowl in San Francisco … Bud Grant, former Vikings coach, was also one of the formative influences Carroll cited … He mentioned that when he finished with the event, he would head back to franchise headquarters for free-agent visits. The only name he mentioned was tight end Ben Watson. "Big Ben Watson," Carroll said.

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