Pete Carroll and the ‘Groceries’


In this morning’s Globe, we analyzed Pete Carroll and his new lease on life as an NFL coach, and just what went wrong in three years in New England.

One thing we left out: Groceries. Remember the famous last words of Bill Parcells, as he departed the Patriots? Carroll now knows exactly where his predecessor was coming from.

“Bill said it in his statement – ‘If you want me to cook the dinner, let me buy the groceries,’” said Carroll, paraphrasing Parcells’ words. “Famous statement, as he was leaving, and, to me, it’s the truth. If it’s done any other way, it’s magical show, if you can pull it off, because I don’t get how it would work any other way. When I went to SC, I found out. In college you’re the general manager and the head coach. … I found out how crucial it was to carry out your philosophy in everything you do. Not your philosophy in football, and this guy’s philosophy in personnel, or some owner or CEO’s philosophy.”

OK, so all that taken into account, Carroll says he actually loved his time here. Really.

“I loved representing that area of the country. They have a way about them, they have a style, and I loved the area,” he said. “It was really cool. My wife loved it. It was a fun place to be, and it was unique, there was a class and style to it. The whole thing. I loved that the fans were so into it. I learned, I don’t know, second or third year, to appreciate how much they loved it. It took me a while before I did. They just want to win, and so do I, so we’re the same really. Why would I think we’re different?

“And if we weren’t do well, well, they should be pissed, because I was. What’s the difference? I didn’t expect unconditional love in this deal and there wasn’t really a time where I felt bad about that, but I learned to appreciate that even moreso. And even watching the Red Sox and Celtics, just in general, it took me a while really to understand the fabric and the involvement. I got some really good visual on it.”

Carroll laughed, explaining that last part. And maybe he wasn’t laughing so much about all this back in 2000.

But he got over it enough to happy for the guys he coached when the Patriots started winning Super Bowls.

“I was fired up for them,” Carroll said. “Honestly, I gotta tell you, I was kinda fired up when they were 5-11 too. I didn’t want to see them turn it around that fast, and they didn’t. They struggled with the same team I was coaching. And they went into the second year, and they were struggling too until Tom (Brady) played. So it took me about a year to get over it.”


What was remarkable, really, was how good-natured Carroll was about the whole thing, and the affection he still has for the Krafts, 10 years after they fired him. But he was also frank and honest, and that led to some telling stories.

Anyway, let’s empty the notebook on this one …

On an illustration that ran in the paper contrasting he and Parcells: “He had the pearl-handled the pistols, so he was doing the Patten thing, and I was sandals and a surfboard, and cheese and a glass of wine or something. I don’t know when that happened – the day before camp started or something like that – but I was perceived as a West Coast person. I think in comparison to Bill, one of the all-time all-timers, those kinds of comparisons are warranted and all. Are they accurate? Somewhat. I am a West Coast guy, and he’s from New Jersey. That’s where it started.”

On what he learned from coaching Parcells’ players:
“I needed much more of a campaign than that to hold people at bay until we proved something. I didn’t think of it that way. That’s something I learned. I remember when Bill was there, I’d heard stories that the first day of camp, he’d always fire some kid that really didn’t have a chance, made a big demonstration out of it. He had his ways to let everybody know who he was and what he was all about, and as I look back, it was very effective. And I learned from him about that. It’s important. A lot of people, you have to let them know what’s going on and who you are all that, people in the organization. I didn’t feel like I had to teach people in the organization what my approach was at all. I do now. I do that. We’ve already had scout meetings to introduce our approach. I learned all of that stuff coming out of that experience. It wasn’t just that, it’s also things that have happened since then that make a lot more sense to me now. I don’t do things anywhere near like I did things before.”


On perception with the team: “In that setting, the scrutiny, the two newspapers and the tremendous success they’d had coming off a Super Bowl and all that, I needed to work harder than that. I needed to teach the owner where I was coming from. I needed to teach guys in the building so that they could support it. They kept asking me to be like Bill. They wanted me to be more like something I wasn’t, and that was a real problem, because I didn’t know I had to be like someone else. And I didn’t understand the importance of bringing them along so they would have answers to questions. I wasn’t worried about that. I don’t know if it was arrogance. I think it was just inexperience, looking at it now. I had that blind thought that they should trust me because I’m their coach, and it’ll all be OK. But they didn’t. They questioned things from the start, and I don’t blame them. They didn’t know anything else. They didn’t know anything else but to question it. Things were way different the way we did it than the way they had been done.”

On his year off in 2000: I did all kinds of stuff. I was looking to see what opportunities there would be outside of football. We had some grandiose ideas of some things we wanted to do, me and Pat Kirwan, got into some stuff. We got close, but it didn’t quite work out. We wanted to create our own football network. It would’ve hit pretty big, but we couldn’t get it do
ne. We had some pretty cool ideas. But after a while, as it got close to the upcoming college season, OK, I’ve tried about six, seven months of thinking about doing other things. I realized – ‘I don’t want to do it.’ The cool thing was I liked retirement. But I didn’t want to do it yet. I wasn’t ready to retire, and I’m not now either. But I do know what it’s like. That’s really what I took away from it.”


On his old players: “There’s a lot of great connections with players from there. I made a lot of great connections – Tedy Bruschi, Ted Johnson and Lawyer (Milloy) and Ty (Law) – all kinds of them. Troy Brown and Drew (Bledsoe). I don’t feel bad about any of those relationships. Terry Glenn’s relationship, which was hard, that one in itself was a really good too. Screwed me up, but it was a really good one. Those relationships, we’re establishing those now. We’re working at it.”

On what was attractive in Seattle: “Everything. An experienced quarterback, a division that was doable that didn’t have the long-standing championship club – Arizona was just getting going and their quarterback was leaving. Draft picks, right off the bat, a good chance to get that going. Great owner, extraordinary fan base, extraordinary stadium experience, maybe the best in the NFL – They support you and you haven’t even been winning. Home field. Great facility. And on and on. West Coast, which is cool for me, since I’m a West Coast person and all. I don’t have to deal with being in the middle of the country, there’s water here. There’s a million reasons.”

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