Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said Monday night's win over Russell Wilson and the Denver Broncos was "really rewarding" to the team's former players.
Carroll pointed to the high number of Hawks icons, including Marshawn Lynch and Richard Sherman, who were in attendance for the season-opening game during an appearance Tuesday on KIRO radio (via ESPN's Brady Henderson).
"I wanted to win for all of the reasons that come along with this one," he said. "Maybe as much as anything is representing the guys that have played before. It meant a lot to those guys. I was so thrilled to be able to hug those guys up and see them and look them in the eye."
When asked to expand on why it meant so much to Wilson's former Seattle teammates, the longtime coach was reluctant to yield much information.
"Eh, you figure that out," Carroll said. "But it was really meaningful and they really wanted it and I knew we were playing for a lot more than just the regular stuff. We have a real connection with the history. ... They feel it and they love the fact that they played here and they love seeing us do well. On this night, they realized there was a big opportunity and a big statement to be made: The game isn't about an individual player here or there. It's about team. This is the ultimate team sport and it's been stated so many times before. It takes everybody."
It's become clear there was a lot of behind-the-scenes drama leading up to Wilson's departure in a March trade to the Broncos.
Although the cracks in the relationship between Wilson and the organization started to show through in early 2021, when the future Hall of Fame QB when on a media tour to air his grievances with the franchise, it seemingly dates back far longer than that.
Baldwin, another former Hawks player in attendance Monday night, previously told Henderson those on the inside knew a breakup was coming for a while.
"From my vantage point, the divorce was inevitable and was many years in the making," he said. "The reasons are multiple, but ultimately, I think it comes down to a difference of pursuits."
So while the sides enjoyed plenty of success together, highlighted by winning the Super Bowl XLVIII title at the end of the 2013 season, the partnership kept trending in the wrong direction over the past few years.
Even the Seahawks fans gave Wilson a rude welcome for his return to Lumen Field:
Perhaps it was the cleansing moment the franchise needed to wash away the drama of recent years and move toward a new era. And, even though Carroll stopped short of any juicy soundbites, his message about the win's importance wasn't shielded.
The storyline probably won't have much legs moving forward since the teams play in opposite conferences, but that doesn't mean the emotion from Monday's victory can't help propel the Seahawks in the weeks ahead. Seattle has an NFC West matchup Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers.
Meanwhile, it's clear Wilson and the Broncos have a lot of work to do if they're going to emerge as a threat amid an AFC West race jam-packed with contenders.