Pete Carroll seems to have developed his own, personal language for telling NFL owners he DGAF.
The Seattle Seahawks’ head coach is the league’s only coach to have spoken directly with the blackballed Colin Kaepernick about a potential tryout–or at least the only one to have publicly acknowledged doing so. That tryout hasn’t materialized, and almost no one expects it to, but that can’t please the 32 owners who’d rather give Kaepernick a reported seven-figure settlement rather than just give him a shot.
Carroll doesn’t care, and he’s doubled down on taking NFL ownership to task over another issue that has race at the center of it: hiring head coaches. Last week, while the NFL was congratulating itself over its update of the Rooney Rule that requires teams to have at least one nonwhite or woman offensive coaching assistant, Carroll was reportedly going in on owners over the lack of diversity among people with his job description.
ESPN reports that Carroll brought up the issue on a call between NFL general managers and coaches during the league’s annual business meetings in Palm Beach last week. NFL owners have to “change themselves,” he said, if they want to get diversity right, echoing comments from Houston Texans’ head coach Lovie Smith who commented on the issue last week as well. Mike Tomlin, who has a de facto emeritus status among Black NFL head coaches, also weighed in on the issue last week, saying he doesn’t expect much change from the league’s front offices.
Carroll may be the only white head coach to have broached the issue so aggressively–or at least the only one to have had his comments become public.
The longtime Seahawks coach, though, told the group that such policies will never be enough until the owners themselves change.
“He just went off,” a source told [ESPN’s Adam] Schefter of Carroll’s comments in the meeting. “He was saying, you can do anything but until owners get to know these candidates before the actual interviews and understand that they have to hire people who are different than them, it’s not going to really change.”
Schefter also reported that owners “weren’t happy” when they learned of Carroll’s comments afterward.
It’s not the first time Carroll addressed the issue of racism. At the height of nationwide protests over racist and systemic police violence in 2020, Carroll called on the NFL’s majority white head coaches, and white people broadly, to address the issue.
The NFL is currently being sued for alleged racial discrimination in its coaching hiring practices by former Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores, who is now an an assistant coach on Tomlin’s staff in Pittsburgh.
In addition to the NFL’s new rules on hiring offensive assistants, it also called out a potentially more significant change last week, releasing a statement that vaguely endorsed the idea of diversifying its ownership ranks. Thirty-one out of the 32 NFL majority owners are white; the exception is the Jacksonville Jaguars’ Shad Khan, who is Pakistani-American.
The NFL didn’t detail how it might diversify its ownership suites, but the statement could have been a nod to how the league evaluates proposals for the one franchise currently on the market, the Denver Broncos.