Here is a link to my Tuesday column about the failure which will haunt Pete Carroll for life. The full text runs below:
Pete Carroll used to have a good reputation. Had it most of his life. Had it until just 26 seconds remained in the Super Bowl. Goodbye, reputation.
His good reputation had nothing to do with personal morals. There was hanky-panky with the football program at USC. Did Pete do something wrong?
His good reputation was the football kind, sort of like Bill Belichick’s. Winning coach. Smart coach. Brave coach. Put the emphasis on brave. Kind of guy unfazed by the moment. Keeps his head no matter what. Keeps his head in the middle of chaos. Loves the chaos. Stays above it.
Pete lost his nerve. Lost his composure. Lost his mind. Pete faced the defining nerve moment of his football life and took a knee, shielded his eyes, lost his train of thought, cried uncle. Pete went weak and lost the Super Bowl and lost his reputation for the rest of his life. Stuff Belichick never does.
You may not like Belichick or trust him to follow the rules or enjoy looking at his constipated, scrunched-up face, but he never goes weak. He is too tough and too savvy and too ornery to go weak.
Pete Carroll experienced a profound failure of nerve. He may never be the same. Ditto for the Seattle Seahawks.
You know the deal. Seahawks down by four. At the Patriots’ 1-yard line. Second down. Twenty seconds left. You don’t get cute. You don’t get clever. You don’t get all cerebral. You give the ball to Marshawn Lynch, the best running back in the world. The most relentless. The guy who always falls forward.
One freaking yard, Pete. Give the ball to Marshawn. Just give him the damn ball. Give the world a chance to watch him win the game. Give the world that pleasure.
But no. Offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell — more on him in a moment — called a pass play to Ricardo Lockette.
Lockette was on the Niners in 2013. Do you even remember him? Did he register on your consciousness? The 49ers released him. He never caught a pass for San Francisco.
He is a nobody on the Seahawks’ wide-receiver depth chart. And they threw the ball to him in the most important play of the season. Threw it to him with Lynch revving up in the backfield.
Carroll is the football coach who didn’t give the ball to Marshawn Lynch with the Super Bowl on the line. For the rest of his life he’ll be the guy who didn’t give the ball to Marshawn Lynch.
Complete failure of nerve in the crisis moment.
Carroll didn’t make the call. Let’s be clear. Bevell did. The marbles were rattling around Bevell’s head and they hit the wrong nerve and he made the wrong call, the disaster call. Carroll, who has complete veto power, failed to exercise his veto. What was going on in his head? Did he lose his marbles?
Afterward, Carroll, in a meandering, babbling monologue, took responsibility for the bad call. Bevell did — kind of. He also said, “We could have done a better job of staying strong through the ball.”
The “we” in his quote is deceptive. Dishonest, actually. “We” refers to “him,” as in Lockette. Bevell meant Lockette didn’t fight hard enough for the ball. Wimped out.
Bevell, the real wimp, shifted the blame from his play call — an all-time bad one — to Lockette who, in fact, tried hard for the ball.
What Bevell did is called throwing his player under the bus. What Bevell did is never is right. What Bevell did is disgraceful. A few days ago, Bevell had a great reputation. Up-and-coming coordinator. Head-coach aspirations. What he said will set him back years. The play he called will set him back. He’s earned a setback.
Someone hacked into Bevell’s Wikipedia page. Here is what the hacker wrote — you want to die laughing:
“Darrell Wayne Bevell (born January 6, 1970) is an American football coach and former player. He is currently the offensive coordinator for the Seattle Seahawks of the National Football League (NFL), a position he has held since the 2011 season. In the closing seconds of Super Bowl XLIX, Bevell announced to the world he was the first clinically brain dead person to coach a professional football team.”
Who can argue with that?
Carroll, who may or may not be brain dead, and Bevell did the 49ers a favor. Did it in spite of themselves. Jim Harbaugh and his offensive coordinator Greg Roman have lived in infamy since blowing the Super Bowl with those three awful Colin Kaepernick passes to Michael Crabtree. Harbaugh and Roman never have lived down that fiasco. Ask Jed York.
But the 49ers were at the Ravens’ 5-yard line. It wasn’t an issue of to run or not to run. The three play calls were redundant and very bad. But unlike the Seahawks, the Niners had to throw. The Seahawks did not have to throw.
The 49ers never failed on the scale the Carroll-Bevell tandem failed. Carroll and Bevell made Harbaugh and Roman look good.
For 49ers fans, that’s one pleasant takeaway from Sunday’s Super Bowl.
For more on the world of sports in general and the Bay Area in particular, go to the Cohn Zohn at cohn.blogs.pressdemocrat.com. You can reach Staff Columnist Lowell Cohn at firstname.lastname@example.org.