I first learned that Pete Carroll was being replaced as the Seahawks head coach from my oldest daughter. Kristin posted team owner Jody Allen’s memo on our family text thread. Getting that kind of news from our daughter was not a surprise. In addition to being our clan’s NFL insider, Kristin is the consummate 12. Daughter #1 is always in-the-know when it comes to everything that relates to the Seahawks. Even though she lives and works at a large church in Southern California, Kristin remains devoted to her hometown team. Understandably, my daughter was devastated by the news of Pete’s departure. And Kristin’s sadness was shared by our entire family.
For fourteen years Coach Carroll’s upbeat positive personality had provided us an example of how to view a glass half-full. His youthful presence and upbeat leadership was optimism personified. I couldn’t imagine not seeing Pete on the sidelines on Sundays in the fall. I felt the need to process my grief. And as I often do (when something of significance occurs), I grabbed my laptop and proceeded to express my feelings with words.
Since the news about Pete broke as we were packing up our holiday decorations, songs of the season were still playing in my mind. I couldn’t help but thinking of Pete Carroll as just another one of the carols that I love this time of year. As I thought about “this friend I’d never met,” the following phrases from popular Christmas carols came to mind and I wrote…
On many a bleak midwinter
Pete brought joy to our world.
But on this silent night,
not even Good King Wenceslas
has a smile on his face.
O come all ye faithful 12s.
Acknowledge your sorrow.
Voice your gratitude.
A much-loved Carroll has been deleted from our playlist.
And the soundtrack that has been such an indispensable part
of our season of celebration is missing.
Nonetheless, I’m grateful for this timeless Carroll
who will remain in our hearts even as we continue to sing his praises!
Much like the carols we sing in church or hear on the radio, Pete Carroll was an earworm. The sound of his voice triggered joy. He endeared himself to our community. His presence prompted us to want to “sing along” and embrace his enthusiasm for life. Even though this beloved coach is six months older than I am, his energy leaves me envious (And I’m a fairly energetic seventy-one-year-old).
Seeing how Coach Pete has been praised by players and fans alike, got me to thinking about what will be said about me when I leave “the locker room of life.” What will I be known for? What will be remembered? Will my name be an earworm that brings joy to the world I leave behind?
Do you ever think about such things? Do you wonder what the person who will one day give your eulogy will say? With that in mind, I’m reminded of a book on my bedstead written by New York Times columnist David Brooks. In “The Road to Character,” the author makes a case for the importance of eulogy virtues over resume virtues. As you might expect, the latter is far more important than the former.
Pete Carroll’s involvement in the community, as well as on the practice field, demonstrated his determined desire to put others first. His sensitivity to those with whom he came in contact was reflected in his willingness to take the be “present” with them. Both in college football and in the pros, Pete was building his eulogy virtues by not being deterred by delayed gratification or unexpected setbacks.
As I contemplate Pete Carroll’s success, I’m reminded what Jesus said about loving your neighbor as you love yourself. As I reflect on the coach’s contagious personality, I realize this Carroll really is like a Christmas carol. It starts to play several weeks before the holiday season. It’s largely upbeat. It’s memorable. It triggers happy thoughts. And it calls to mind memorable messages.
Observing Pete’s influence as a coach, I’m reminded of the following axiom. “People will not remember what you did as much as they will remember how you made them feel.”
Guest columnist Greg Asimakoupoulos is a former chaplain at Covenant Living at the Shores in Mercer Island.