The Seattle Seahawks were scheduled to be on the practice field at 1 p.m. on a temperate Saturday afternoon at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center. Instead, head coach Pete Carroll was delivering a nearly 15-minute message to reporters at 1 p.m. on topics of racism, voting rights and the need for more understanding in society.
The team officially canceled practice on Saturday after a lengthy team meeting held prior to the scheduled practice. The discussions among the team come in the wake of the shooting of Jacob Blake by police officers in Kenosha, Wisc. that served as the latest flash point over racial treatment by police officers.
Three players were initially scheduled to meet with reporters prior to Saturday's practice. Those plans were revised to Carroll and possibly players to follow instead. Then 11:20 a.m. passed with the team meeting continuing longer and longer. Carroll finally came to speak with reporters just prior to 1 p.m. and spoke for 14 minutes and 26 seconds about several topics on the minds of his players that led to the decision to cancel practice for the day.
"Our players are screaming at us. 'Can you feel me? Can you see me? Can you hear me?' They just want to be respected," Carroll said. "They just want to be accepted. Just like all of our white children and families and want to be. It's no different because we're all the same. And there's a lot of people that don't see it that way, but there's a lot of people that do. And I'm hoping that from this point forward, maybe 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.
"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. And law enforcement is a huge issue to our guys because they're frightened for their lives. They're frightened 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."
Carroll was passionate in remarks and spoke with a purpose about the subject at hand. He wants to be a part of the action to move things forward. One area where he spoke about was in using the right to vote to amplify the voices of the players. With the day off from practice, he said that they will get all of their players that aren't already set up to do so registered to vote.
"There's the March on Washington was all about commitment. Well, why not take these 60 days and make a commitment to vote and march together to get everybody in this country to vote so that everybody has the voice and everybody that needs to speak out gets heard and we don't let anybody squelch any aspect of the voting potential. Not one frickin' vote. And we need to start now. We need to start voting, start the process register, get voted. All of our players will be officially registered today. That's a start," Carroll said.
Carroll understands that all of society isn't going to change because he, or his players, ask for it. But he wanted to speak to coaches who may listen to his words to get them to use their positions to help lead.
"I'm still curious and as I stay curious I keep growing and learning because of the environment and the people that I'm around," Carroll said. "And I know in this world of coaching, there's a lot of coaches out there, men's and women's coaches 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 there. At least I can touch on coaches and get to them, I think.
"We all know it's out there, we got to do the right thing and we got to do the right thing by caring for people and loving people because they deserve it. Simple as that. It's that simple. So coaches I'm calling on you. All coaches. Let's step up. No more being quiet. No more being afraid to talk the 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, a leadership group that stands out. And maybe others will follow us."
Carroll said he's learned a lot from his players and the stories they've told. It's helped him understand that there's more to the history of the country and the ongoing disparities the Black population continues to face than is generally taught.
"Finally I would say it's the inspiration from the players. We need to listen to them," Carroll said. "They've got wisdom and they've got power and they're just sensing what they're able to do and capable of doing. And we need to hear them. And when we do that, we'll follow the right lead and good things will happen."
Photo Credit: Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll does his daily football toss as the Seattle Seahawks hold training camp at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center in Renton, Wash. on Friday August 28, 2020. (pool photo by Bettina Hansen / The Seattle Times)