RENTON, Wash. — Coach Pete Carroll and quarterback Russell Wilson denied Friday that a divide exists in the Seattle Seahawks locker room and insisted the team is in a good place going into the 2017 season.
Many of the questions posed to Carroll and Wilson stemmed from an ESPN The Magazine story published last week that focused largely on Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman‘s inability to let go of the team’s loss in Super Bowl XLIX when Wilson was intercepted by New England Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler.
“We’re living as a family in this situation,” Carroll said. “These guys have grown up with us as football players. And in that, we go through a lot of changes, and there are a lot of things that happen. There’s a lot of challenges in all directions — not just for one guy, but for all of our guys.
“And in that, I know I’m dedicated. I’m dedicated to making progress as we go. That doesn’t mean everything’s always going ahead exactly as you planned. Sometimes there’s setbacks and challenges. As a matter of fact, if you don’t count on that, you don’t understand. So we’re in great shape. This locker room’s in great shape.”
Wilson was asked how divided the locker room has been since the Super Bowl loss.
“I wouldn’t say it’s divided,” he said. “I don’t know that. From my perspective, I believe we’re a team that’s been in the playoffs. We’re a team that keeps winning. I don’t think teams do that if they’re truly divided.”
Asked specifically about his relationship with Sherman, Wilson added, “I think Richard Sherman’s one of the best teammates I could ever ask for. I think that in terms of his work ethic, I don’t know if he’s ever missed a practice. His timely nature in games obviously, making big plays. His mentality. He’s a good dad too as well. To be able to watch him from a distance and see how he is with his kids and stuff like that, that matters. So those are the things I look forward to. Those are the things I know. He’s a great teammate. I think he’s going to be a Hall of Fame cornerback as well. And so I’m glad he’s on our team.”
Carroll called the ESPN The Magazine article an “old story” and said that he did not address it with the team.
In Week 15 of last season, Sherman got into a shouting match with Seahawks coaches after they called a pass play from the Los Angeles Rams‘ 1-yard line. He later pointed to the Super Bowl XLIX interception as the source of his dismay.
Carroll admitted that the Super Bowl XLIX loss still affects him.
“I’m putting myself in trouble by saying this. It ain’t never going away from me,” Carroll said. “The first one’s never going away for me. It’s affecting me for the rest of my life. And the next one will affect me for the rest of my life. I’m OK with that. I’ve just got to keep going. I’ve got to manage my way so that I can keep moving forward. I don’t say that it affected me in a negative way. It’s a big experience. It’s a lot you go through. It’s a lot that you deal with. And you’ve got to put it in the right place so that the next step you take can be the best step that you’re taking. And that’s what we’re working at doing.”
This offseason, the Seahawks very publicly announced that they were accepting trade offers for Sherman, but a deal never got done, and he has been back practicing with the team.
The ESPN The Magazine article reported that certain players feel that Carroll and the coaching staff show favoritism towards Wilson and don’t hold the quarterback accountable when the offense struggles.
“I show favoritism towards every one of these guys,” Carroll said. “Every one of them. I’m trying to figure each guy out and help them out as best I can. And I think we’re doing ok at doing that. Each person is different — where as they have to fit into the team. They’ve got to maintain the team expectations and standards. And I’ve got to make sure I hold them to all of that. Individually, I treat those guys as well as I can to what they need and how it fits them.”
Wilson denied that the Super Bowl loss is still hanging over the team as it prepares for the 2017 season.
“If it’s hanging, I don’t think we’d be as far as we’ve gotten,” Wilson said. “I think we’ve been too good the past two years since. And the best part is we can get better.
“I don’t think it’s the same for everybody. I don’t know. I can’t speak for everybody, but I do know that for us as an entire group, that’s definitely in the past. We have to leave that in the past because like I said, when you win one, you leave it back there. And unfortunately if you ever lose one, you leave it back there. Because you have to look forward to the next year. There’s too many tough things to get to where you want to go. And if you’re looking back in the rear view mirror, you’ll never see ahead. So for us, I think we’re looking straight ahead.”