BY BOB CONDOTTA
THE SEATTLE TIMES/MCT
RENTON, Wash. — Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll made clear Monday he would have preferred Richard Sherman deliver his message in a more delicate way than he did after Sunday’s NFC Championship game win over the San Francisco 49ers.
“We did sit down and talk about it because I wanted him to present himself in his best light, because he’s an incredible kid,” Carroll said. “ .. . I think he is very understanding at this point that he caused a stir that took something away from the team.”
Carroll’s comments also make it clear he views the edge and attitude in Sherman’s postgame comments one reason the Seahawks got to where they are — headed to Super Bowl XLVIII to play the Denver Broncos on Feb. 2 in New Jersey.
Carroll reflected on the road Seattle has traveled since he took over in 2010 as he met with the media Monday after Sunday’s 23-17 win over the 49ers. The victory was preserved when Sherman batted a pass into the hands of teammate Malcolm Smith in the end zone with 22 seconds left.
‘Something to prove’
Carroll insisted that from the day he arrived he believed the Seahawks could get to the Super Bowl quickly.
“It’s later than we wanted it to be,” Carroll said. “But we are still on track for something really special. We had to wait a little bit. It might be worth it.”
If there was a moment when Carroll began to see it come together, he recalled Monday, it was midway through his second season in 2011, when first- and second-year players like Sherman, Earl Thomas and safety Kam Chancellor began to emerge.
Those players, along with the likes of receiver Doug Baldwin (an undrafted rookie in 2011) and running back Marshawn Lynch (acquired midway through the 2010 season) began to show the competitiveness Carroll knew it would take to get to the top.
“I think you can see that we have really chosen guys that have a feeling that they have something to prove,” Carroll said. “I feel like that, John (general manager John Schneider) feels like that. We all kind of feel like that. A little bit of chip-on-the-shoulder mentality around here. And it’s something I recognized in the second year here. I think we had a bunch of guys that understood what that meant, and we have just kind of built on that somewhat.
“So I think we are a very, very competitive group and they understand the value of that and how that fuels us and gets us where we want to go. … It’s a powerful feeling that we have.”
A feeling that helped lead to Sherman’s tip of Colin Kaepernick’s pass. Then came Sherman’s rant, boasting and deriding intended receiver Michael Crabtree, whom Sherman felt had slighted him at a charity softball game last summer.
Carroll said he talked to Sherman on Monday, and that Sherman “didn’t feel right” about the way he presented himself and for taking away from the team’s performance.
“I told them this weekend, we don’t let them be themselves, we celebrate them being themselves, and we cheerlead for them to be themselves,” Carroll said. “And we try to bring out the very best that they have to offer. Sometimes we go overboard, sometimes the individuals get out of bounds, and then you have to step back and get back in bounds. I understand that. That’s kind of how we operate. It may sound different to you, but that’s how we do it.”
Carroll’s ability to successfully mesh disparate personas is evident in the Seahawks’ locker room — from the outspoken, outrageous Sherman to the more-scripted Russell Wilson — that some credit for the team’s march to the Super Bowl.
Carroll, though, said his open-minded approach is the best way to win football games.
“I’m trying to help our team be great and play great football and do this game the way we’re supposed to do it,” he said. “I don’t want to miss out on somebody because maybe they’re not like me. I’m OK with that. I’m just trying to figure out where they fit in, and if they can help us, they can help us.”
It’s worked out well enough to take the Seahawks a step away from their ultimate goal. And while work remains, Carroll said he also talked to the team Monday about acknowledging and being grateful for what they have done.
“I think we’re very fortunate to have come together at this time to make this happen,” he told the team, later adding, “I always thought that this was realistic. This is was the place that I was hoping that we were going to get to.”