This just in from the Seattle Seahawks: In a press conference early next week, head coach Pete Carroll is prepared to disavow his earlier statements and deny any personal responsibility for what many have called “the worst play call” at an absolutely critical moment in the history of major sporting events.
In short, he will perform an amazing feat — rising up and walking away from the sword he fell upon four weeks ago when he refused to blame anyone except himself for the team’s shocking last-minute loss to the New England Patriots on Super Bowl Sunday.
With the New England Patriot defenders gasping for breath and the Seattle Seahawks down on their 1-yard line with 26 seconds remaining in the game, every diehard football fan in America knew what Carroll and the Seahawks had to do to ice their second consecutive Super Bowl championship.
All they had to do was to give the football to Marshawn Lynch and let their rampaging, unstoppable “beast” of a running back take it in for the game-winning score.
And that wasn’t the only safe, almost surefire option. With second and one, they could also have created a near-impossible situation for the reeling New England’s defense by having Russell Wilson, the premier running quarterback in professional football, sprint out to one side on a pass/run option.
With three downs to get one yard, they could also try a pass to either sideline — on the assumption that the defense would be bunched up inside against the run — knowing Wilson could safely throw the ball away in the event of tight coverage.
Instead, Wilson dropped back and tossed a short, soft pass into the tightly congested battle space between the ends — targeting a wide receiver running an inside slant. Result: the disastrous (or miraculous) interception by undrafted rookie Malcolm Butler that gifted the game to the New England Patriots.
Hall of Fame running back and Dallas Cowboys great Emmitt Smith was one of those who couldn’t believe his own eyes, saying: “That was the worst play call I’ve seen in the history of football.”
Nevertheless, football coaches are programmed — yes, programmed — into taking full responsibility for the decisions that they (with the help of their assistants) make during the course of a game. Carroll followed the unwritten but well understood script in refusing to fob off any part of the blame on the quarterback Wilson or the offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell.
“There’s really nobody to blame but me,” Carroll told his team in the locker room.
“I made the decision,” he said in exonerating Wilson and Bevell. “I said, ‘Pass the ball.’”
He also had the good grace to credit Butler with “a really good play.”
No less an eminence than Rush Limbaugh credited Pete Carroll with doing the right and honorable thing in accepting full personal responsibility for a critical lapse in judgment — holding him up as an example for President Obama to follow.
But all this self-censorious behavior was in the heat of the moment — before the gum-chewing coach had a fair chance to ponder the uncharacteristic and, indeed, unfathomable foolishness of the play call that snatched defeat from the jaws of victory… this being the very moment that some of his players were getting ready to dump the traditional celebratory vat of Gatorade over his head.
Someone that wasn’t him must have gotten inside his head — or inside his headset — and spoken for him in ordering the fatal pass play. Realistically, it doesn’t make any sense to think that Pete Carroll… or any other head coach in the NFL… could have come up with such a dumb call at a critical moment.
Who could evil stand-in, or stand-ins, have been?
There’s the New England head coach Bill Belichick, widely viewed as an evil genius. Belichick stands accused of cheating the St. Louis Rams out of the 2002 Super Bowl by secretly videotaping their walk-through practice the day before the game and stealing their hand signals.
And there are other still more prominent potential conspirators, including former president George W. Bush and friends of his still active in the CIA, along with Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu and Israeli intelligence sources.
There is no shortage of candidates if you, like Pete Carroll, are of the “skeptical” mindset of someone who does not believe that Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda were responsible for the attacks on our country that killed 2,996 people on Sept. 11, 2001.
If the report given in Deadspin (a popular website that promises to provide “Sports News without Access, Favor, or Discretion”) of a sit-down meeting at Seattle Seahawks headquarters between Carroll and retired general Peter Chiarelli that took place in the spring of 2013 is accurate, Carroll “wanted to know if the September 11 attacks had been planned or faked by the United States government” and “ran through the whole 9/11 truther litany” of other possible villains besides bin Laden and al Qaeda. Neither Carroll nor Chiarelli has confirmed or denied the contents of the article.
Riki Ellison, a former NFL linebacker and founder of the Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance, who introduced Carroll to Chiarelli, told Deadspin that Carroll wasn’t crazy; just skeptical. “Pete grew up in California during Vietnam, and during Watergate. That’s just the perspective he brings to the table.”
But is he skeptical enough to doubt his own words — uttered only one month ago?
Well, why not — if he had seen Osama bin Laden’s videotape boasting about 9/11 and hadn’t believed it, or if he could seriously ask a four-star general if he knew of any real damage to the Pentagon on 9/11 (reportedly, Chiarelli was deeply offended by that question as he had lost many colleagues when American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the western side of the building)?
When he addresses reporters at next week’s press conference, I fully expect Pete Carroll to make Super Bowl history all over again when he says: “That wasn’t the real me who spoke to you guys on Feb. 1. I was brainwashed.”
It’s still a month away, but I want to be the first to wish everyone a Happy April Fool’s Day.
(Editor’s note: But there is a “real me” Pete Carroll who, as announced on Wednesday, will receive an honorary doctorate this spring from USC— yes, the same school he abandoned for the NFL as the NCAA closed in on the corruption-riddled program he headed. We wonder what “honorary” means these days. Does it include a handsome honorarium?)
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