MMQB Explains Seahawks Collapse Amid Unrest over Pete Carroll, Russell Wilson

Kyle Newport@@KyleNewportFeatured ColumnistSeptember 7, 2018

FILE - In this Dec. 17, 2017, file photo, Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, right, stands with quarterback Russell Wilson before the team's NFL football game against the Los Angeles Rams in Seattle. Carroll was among the top five in voting for the NFL's top coach by an Associated Press panel released Friday, Dec. 29. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)
Elaine Thompson/Associated Press

The Seattle Seahawks looked like a dynasty in the making after their 43-8 thrashing of the Denver Broncos in 2014's Super Bowl XLVIII, but they have not hoisted the Lombardi Trophy since.

As a result, the Legion of Boom era of the team's defense has come to an end sooner than expected.

Sports Illustrated's Greg Bishop and Robert Klemko reported on the fall of the Seahawks on Friday, detailing how head coach Pete Carroll and Russell Wilson played a role in the team's demise. And yes, the controversial Super Bowl XLIX loss to the New England Patriots came up once again.

Seattle has undergone a dramatic roster overhaul since winning the Super Bowl in 2014. As Bishop and Klemko pointed out, only five players remain from that team, including Wilson and receiver Doug Baldwin.

Meanwhile, key contributors Marshawn Lynch, Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor and Cliff Avril have all moved on. Although Pro Bowl safety Earl Thomas remains a Seahawk, he is unhappy with his current contract status, telling the team on Instagram this summer to either extend him or trade him.

With all of those changes, one player dubbed the Seahawks the "dynasty that never was." Avril even went on the record to express his surprise at the way things played out in Seattle.

"I would never have thought this would unravel the way it has unraveled," Avril told Sports Illustrated. "Pretty much everyone who left was a Pro Bowler, if you think about it."

It's been well-documented through the years that the Seahawks' decision to throw the football at the goal line rather than hand the ball off to Lynch did not sit well with many players. The intercepted pass cost Seattle not only a title, but a chance at a repeat—and a chance to go down as one of the greatest teams in history.

But as devastating as that blow may have been, there was apparently no shortage of drama beforehand.

Back in May 2017, ESPN's Seth Wickersham revealed Sherman once told Wilson, "You f--king suck!" after picking off a pass during a 2014 practice. According to Bishop and Klemko, that type of trash talk did not sit well with Carroll.

Carroll allegedly told players not to badmouth the franchise quarterback. When the players responded by saying that was their way of helping him fit in, Carroll disagreed. 

"He protected him," an unnamed Seahawks player told Sports Illustrated. "And we hated that. Any time he f--ked up, Pete would never say anything. Not in a team meeting, not publicly, never. If Russ had a terrible game, he would always talk about how resilient he was. We're like, what the f--k are you talking about?"

One former Seattle player said Carroll views Wilson as "too emotionally fragile." About half of the locker room reportedly had some sort of problem with the quarterback due to perceived preferential treatment by the organization, Wilson's behavior or other reasons.

Multiple players said they were suspicious Wilson would tell Carroll details of players-only conversations, leading some to think before they spoke.

"When guys would talk candidly in front of Russell, somehow all that stuff got up to Pete," one player told Sports Illustrated. "And after a while, after a few instances, everyone started noticing that, and everyone made sure not to talk about anything that could be misconstrued near Russell."

Wilson and the Legion of Boom brought a Super Bowl to Seattle, but given how dominant the defense was, only winning one championship is clearly a disappointment to some.

The 2018 Seahawks will begin their attempt to get back to the Super Bowl on Sunday against the Denver Broncos.

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