Pete Carroll and I Make a Phone Call

February 1, 2024 at 12:00 a.m.
The call that Margaret and Pete Carroll made to her son, "a massive fan of the Seahawks" who was away at college at the time, was memorialized in this photo taken backstage at "New Day Northwest"
The call that Margaret and Pete Carroll made to her son, "a massive fan of the Seahawks" who was away at college at the time, was memorialized in this photo taken backstage at "New Day Northwest" Margaret Larson

As we close in on the 2024 Super Bowl, I’m reminded that it’s also the tenth anniversary of the Seattle Seahawks’ only Super Bowl win, a giant red-letter sports day in my house and probably yours too. I still have a baggie of green and blue confetti that a friend who attended the game brought home for me.

Man, that team had everything—an explosive offense, a punishing defense, and an unmatched, well-earned swagger. When I think of it, I immediately envision Head Coach Pete Carroll sprinting up and down the sidelines, punching his fists into the air, and jawing wads of gum like his life depended on it.

On nearly every national broadcast of a Seahawks game, his age was mentioned since he epitomized an ageless bundle of energy and a ceaseless positivity, and at the time was the oldest (yet seemingly youngest) head coach in the NFL.

He was a marvel. So, as a fan, I was both caught off guard and saddened when his tenure ended so abruptly last month, obviously before he wanted it to, with only a year left on his contract. He’d made no secret of wanting to stay, putting himself on the line. Whether it’s a good football decision or not, it hurts to be turned out, especially at age 72 when you wholeheartedly believe you have so much more to give. Coach Carroll likely doesn’t need my empathy, but he has it. These things hit differently as you get older.

After fourteen seasons in Seattle, he’ll be missed. It’s a new era now and I suspect it’ll be weird to see someone else in command. But there’s one personal story I want to share with you as the Carroll coaching chapter ends. At the beginning of the 2013 season (yes, the Super Bowl season), Pete Carroll appeared on New Day Northwest on KING-TV, the show I hosted for a decade.

Everyone was excited to meet him, and, as expected, he was enthusiastic and ready, bouncing on his toes as he walked. When I greeted him backstage, I told him that my son was a massive fan of the Seahawks, a student of the salary cap, and preparing for the NFL draft as though he was personally in charge. Without a pause, Pete said, ‘Let’s call him!”

I was a little flummoxed and stammered that he was away at college and probably in class, but Pete just replied, “Ring him up,” in what I interpreted as his coach voice. Somebody kindly took a picture as all this was happening.

Out in New York, when his phone rang, Kyle thought maybe…MAYBE the call had to do with my interview with Coach Carroll. He later described nearly chucking his laptop into the wall as he ran out of class to answer his phone. And then, they chatted, like friends. About the draft, about a couple of particular players, about what the Hawks were looking for. My 20-year-old son was ecstatic, over the moon, way over the moon. It was an instinctual act of kindness from Coach Carroll which neither Kyle nor I will ever forget.

When I posted this story on Facebook (, it was liked and shared more than 34,000 times, with people adding their own stories of Carroll’s kindnesses, small and large. Some folks had complaints about his controversial exit at USC, but seemingly no one had a bad word to say about the fourteen years in Seattle.

It seems to me that Coach Carroll, at heart, is a teacher. He wants the best for and out of people and he gets it with a blend of high expectations and high support. He’s managed to nurture and maintain relationships with all kinds of players long after their football years. And along the way, he’s seized on the opportunities to make a difference in the lives of ordinary fans.

I have no idea what he’ll do next, but I imagine there’s another mission afoot. Either way, what a mountain of a legacy he’s left in Seattle. What a difference he’s made in so many unforgettable ways just by treating people as we’d all like to be treated. It’s a very high bar, but an incredibly worthy one to reach for.

As grateful as I am for the football, I’m even more grateful for the lesson.

Margaret Larson retired as host of KING 5‘s "New Day Northwest" in 2020. Her impressive 35-year career included stints as a London-based foreign correspondent for NBC News and as a news anchor for the Today show, as well as a reporter for Dateline NBC and anchor at KING 5. Photo courtesy KING 5.

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