Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll is no stranger when it comes to advocacy, but Saturday afternoon Carroll took his advocacy to another level as he spoke candidly about racism during a 15-minute press briefing after a lengthy team meeting at the VMAC.
In his address, Carroll called on fellow coaches to come together and use their influence to create change and promote conversations and understanding of racial issues in America.
“I’m calling on you, all coaches. Let’s step up,” said Carroll. “No more being quiet, no more being afraid to talk to topics, no more 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 that stands out, and maybe others will follow us.”
After his passionate address, Carroll walked away from the podium without taking any questions from the media.
Here is the full transcript of Carroll’s address to the media:
This is a really big day around the country. It happens to be Jackie Robinson day. Happens to be the day after Chadwick Boseman passed away, who portrayed and taught all of our young people about Jackie Robinson and the story in the new movie that they put out, which has been extraordinary. And it’s just a really big day in a lot of ways. And so I want to talk to you guys about some stuff that’s on my heart. And because of the environment that I live in, here, and work with our guys, it kind of starts here.
I’ve been coaching for a really long time. I mean, I’ve been coaching for … since I was 13 years old, I was coaching Pop Warner kids. So that’s over 50 years, and I’ve had the good fortune of spending a career in the midst of an environment and a culture that isn’t normal for the outside world.
We’ve been in a world of diversity forever and as far as I can go back. And so I’ve had the good fortune of different lessons than other people have had. And, with all of those years, I’ve never learned more than I’ve learned, really, in the last 20 years, in particular, at SC and then here. But, in particular, in just the last six or so years, with what we’ve gone through and what we’ve dealt with, has been just enlightening in so many ways. And it seemed like a lot of the years that we spent coaching, nothing really happened, didn’t learn a whole lot, but in this last half dozen years or so, I’ve realized how crucial it is to keep growing and to keep learning and to keep competing, to figure out how you can do things better, and, in essence, that everybody needs to continue. Everybody needs to be coached up, ongoing. We don’t ever have it. We always have a chance to get better and to learn more and represent more, specifically, and all of that. And so 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.
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. And 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.
And, this summer, we did a podcast, Steve Kerr and I did, really with the thought of let’s see if we can get on the topics that people aren’t willing to talk about. Let’s see if we can talk about race, and we can talk about diversity, and we can talk about inclusion, and let’s see how far we could go with the guests that we had. And we had a whole array of guests. And there was one day that it was Steve and Gregg Popovich and myself, I thought, okay, this is three white guys talking to the world about what it’s like to grow up and live in a world of diversity and see if we couldn’t share some of our experiences that we’ve had, in our awareness of what people need and where they’re coming from, and that other people that don’t have the opportunity to be in that kind of environment might need to know. And, in essence, we wanted to kind of enlighten and educate, if we could, based on the experiences that we had. And sorry, Steve, but I don’t think we went far enough. I loved the time, but we didn’t quite get as deep as we needed to, as far as we needed to, and then as things just kept popping and all of the issues have come to light, we were on the right topic. We just didn’t get there. And, today, I want to try to get there.
Coming back to camp, this year, we entered with so many issues, so many things going on. COVID, the pandemic, George Floyd, social issues, political issues, so many things were at hand. It’s just been an incredible offseason and camp, and now we’re finally together, working. But never before this year has it been so deep and so rich in the exchanges with our players, in how they’ve taken this opportunity to teach us more and deeper about what the life of a black man is like in America, black men and women. And they’ve been compelled to speak out, more than ever. There has been less fear and less concern of what’s going to happen. I love our environment is such that our guys are willing to say what they can say. And they’re okay about that, which we need to hear, because this has been a process of truth telling and reality checks, that just brings me to a point where, as we’re speaking about all that’s going on, and this is about racism in America, that white people don’t know. They don’t know enough, and they need to be coached up, and they need to be educated about what the heck is going on in this world.
The black people can’t scream any more. They can’t march any more. They can’t bear their souls any more to what they’ve lived with for hundreds of years because white guys came over from Europe and started a new country with a great idea and a great ideals and wrote down great writings and laws and all of that, about democracy and freedom and equality for all. And then it ain’t happened. That’s not what happened because we went down this other road, here. We followed economics and which white guy’s making money, and they put together a system of slavery. And we’ve never left it, really. It’s never gone away.
And the really amazing thing that I’ve learned is black people know the truth. They know exactly what’s going on. It’s white people that don’t know. And it’s not that they’re not telling us. They’ve been telling us the stories, and we know what’s right and what’s wrong. We just have not been open to listen to it. We’ve been unwilling to accept the real history. We’ve been taught a false history of what happened in this country. We’ve been basing things on false premises, and it has not been about equality for all. It has not been about freedom for all. It has not been for opportunity for all.
And it needs to be because this is a humanity issue that we’re dealing with. This is a white people’s issue to get over it and learn what’s going on in to figure it out and start loving everybody that is part of our country and that want to come to our country, wherever they want to come from.
Our players are screaming at us, “Can you feel me? Can you see me? Can you hear me?” They just want to be respected. They just want to be accepted, just like all of our white children and families 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 is a new door to open for us, and we can walk through it together with the thought of doing what’s right. What’s right is treating people equally. We know that. Forefathers knew it. They wrote it all down. They just didn’t do it. They got caught up in making money, and they figured out a way to do it. And it meant persecuting and abusing an entire race of people.
So with the media as it is, with all of the exposure, it ain’t like 1860s. It’s not like 1960s. When civil rights came through, we had three channels to watch. Well, the media is on it. 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, really, 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. So they’re crying out, again, and calling for us white people to figure it out and to listen and to fix all of the obvious problems that we know.
I don’t need to listen for you, you guys. We all know it’s out there. We’ve 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 to topics, no more 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 that stands out, and maybe others will follow us.
But it’s not just for coaches. I just know that I might have a better ear listening to me when I’m talking to coaches. It’s about education. It really is. It’s not about education in the books so much, anymore. We all know that history was screwed up. We all know that. It’s we have to learn really what’s going on, so we can feel our people, so that we can respond. We know all the issues that we need to address. Yeah. Okay. So what do we do about it? How do we act on it? How do we help?
Can you imagine how long black people have hung together, with the faith and the hope that something’s going to change, and it’s going to be better? Unbelievable endurance, unbelievable competitiveness to just keep hanging. I don’t know. I mean, I’m so moved by all of that. I can’t even imagine how they’ve been able to do it under these circumstances. They’ve been terrible. But they’re still hanging, and they’re still hoping. And racism’s going out the door. It’s got to be gone. It’s got to be out the freaking door and get rid of it. It’s got to go. And we’ve got to figure out the way to get that done. And it needs to be spoken to all the different issues, whether it’s education, whether it’s health considerations, whether it’s voting rights, whatever. All of the different elements that are so screwed up, we need to go attack every one of them.
We know what they are. They’re out there. We’ve got to stop the people that are getting in the way. And here’s one point. What can we do? Well, we’ve got 60 days. 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 fricking 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. 60 days to march, a commitment to vote. Can we get that done? We can. We can do that. At least that’s proactive, right now, because the hardest part is what do you do? How do you help? Well, first we get educated. We start working on ourselves and try to understand really what’s happening. My guys have taught … It’s unequivocal. There’s no question what’s happened. They’re living scared to death, and it never was okay. It’s just now that we see so vividly what is going on, we have to get it stopped, now. So I hope somebody’s listening because we have to create the change, and we got to be the change to get that done. And, coaches, let’s let us be the ones. Lead in your communities. We’re in communities everywhere across this country. We’re all over the place, in all the different sports. Hear me. Let’s go. Let’s get this done.
And at least get our people to activate. And then there’s so many more things to do. There’s so many more things. And follow your heart and do what you can do. And, like our players talked about today, they live in fear of speaking their piece. Well, and I reminded them that not everybody’s the same. Not everybody is as bold as the next person. But if you are bold, and you want to speak out, go ahead. If you aren’t, and you want to do something else, go ahead, do your thing.
It’ll help all people. It’ll help all of us. It’ll help all people of color. It’ll help all people that want to come to our country. It’ll help the poor people in our country that aren’t black or brown. It’ll help all of us if we start doing the right thing. And I will finish with this thought. There’s only one way to do this, really. You got to do it by caring. You have to care so much and show the love for the people that deserve every bit of the rights to be treated equally and treated fairly and treated straight up honestly. So they can get in their car and go to the store and feel safe, getting out from the parking lot and going in. Because they don’t feel like that right now. That’s not the truth.
And white people don’t understand that. Keep listening then whites. They are not able to be fearless. They’re not able to be like you are. And they just want to be like you. They just want to have the freedom and the comfort and the security of living a good life and loving through all of their family exchanges and opportunities.
I really want to thank the people that continue to influence and do so many great things. There’s so much great work being done. And the personal friends that I have, that have helped me understand, helped me work at it, our coaching world is different than everybody else’s world, and we’re fortunate. But that doesn’t mean we all act right, and it doesn’t mean we all know. But I appreciate the inspiration that we’ve received from so many. And then, finally, I would say, it’s the inspiration from the players. We need to listen to them. 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. Thanks. I’m out.