Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Is Pete Carroll God?

or at least the best person ever?

Two recent "profiles" suggest so. First ESPN's "Trojan Force" and then a few days later from LA Magazine "23 Reasons Why A Profile of Pete Carroll Does Not Appear in This Space"
Some highlights (and there were many.)

From "23 Reasons" (underlying #1 reason? because the author loooooves him. I feel if I was skilled this would be the kind of piece I would probably write, but of course I would sleep with him)

  • Carroll’s normal gait is what others might call a wind sprint.
  • [Carroll and staffer] make late-night journeys through the dicey precincts of Los Angeles. Alone, unarmed, they cruise the desolate, impoverished, crime-ridden streets, meeting as many people (mostly young men) as possible. The mission: Let them know that someone busy, someone famous, someone well known for winning, is thinking about them, rooting for them. The young men have hard stories, grim stories, about their everyday lives, and at the very least Carroll’s visit gives them a different story to tell tomorrow. Carroll says: “Somebody they would never think would come to them and care about them and worry about them—did. I think it gives them hope.”
  • A car pulls up. Someone’s mother, back from the store. She freezes when she sees who’s outside her house. Carroll waves, then helps her with the groceries. He makes several trips, multiple bags in each hand, and the woman yelps with laughter.
  • A young man stops Carroll, takes the coach aside and becomes emotional while explaining how much this visit has meant to him. He gives Carroll a bracelet, something he made, a symbol of brotherhood and solidarity. Carroll accepts the bracelet as if it were a Rolex. He’ll wear it for days, often pushing back his sleeve to admire and play with it. He gives several young men his cell phone number—something he’s never offered me—and tells them to call if they ever need to talk. One, an ex-con, will call early the next morning and confide in Carroll about his struggles feeding his family. Carroll will vow to help find him a job. (So far, Taylor says, Carroll has found part-time jobs for 40 young men.)
  • He says Carroll is more complicated than I suspected: “When we talk, we sometimes turn to sports, but more often to philosophy and the amazing possibilities of human nature. For awhile we worked together with Russian coaches and athletes and talked about ending the Cold War…. We’ve discussed Indian philosophy, religious mysticism, parapsychology as a scientific discipline, and various social causes. I’ve probably forgotten more topics we’ve explored than the ones I can remember.”
  • But Carroll is a Hollywood fever dream, a hybrid of Knute Rockne and a rock star. (Folk rock.) He looks like a man who spends his days in the sun. Not the bad sun, the sun of Marlboro Men and aging soap opera actors, but the good sun, the sun of tennis pros and yachtsmen. He’s not leathery, just burnished. His eyes are bright Caribbean blue, and the browner his skin gets, the bluer his eyes turn. His nose is slightly zigzag. It breaks left, then right, a runner in the open field, and his chin is jutting, prominent, always pointing the way forward.
  • His hair, however, might be his signature feature. A puffy palette of white, silver, and gray, it reminds you sometimes of Bill Clinton, other times of Dick Van Dyke. Now you see follicular intimations of Richard Gere, now you see flashes of Phil Donahue, now a fleck or two of Jack Kemp.
  • He’s taller in person than on TV. Stalking a sideline, he’s always dwarfed by that phalanx of giants in his private Praetorian Guard, but walking the campus he’s taller than most students he passes. He’s also in better shape. He dresses in concealing layers—a blousy polo shirt over a white body shirt, khaki pants— but when he changes in his office, when he’s standing there shirtless, you notice the definition. A USC strength coach says Carroll is a workout fiend, always looking for new ways to get the heart rate up and the body fat down. He lifts weights, [and] boogie-boards under the pier at Hermosa Beach.
  • one scene comes quickly to mind. It’s late. He’s pacing outside his office, glancing at a game on TV, tossing a football to himself, talking to me and several assistant coaches all at once. Suddenly and unaccountably he leans against a leather chair and starts doing pushups. Slumped in a chair, eyelids heavy, I can’t help wondering if he might secretly be using crystal meth.
  • Carroll’s wife says that when he does sleep, he sometimes shoots awake in the middle of the night, seized by inspiration. A new play, a new solution to some Xs and Os problem. Carroll likens his mental state to the movie Phenomenon. He says he feels something like that John Travolta character, whose mind is racing with ideas and flashes of insight.
  • His father was a liquor wholesaler, his mother “the life of the party,”
  • had a meeting with players and coaches, and I was telling them about this Iroquois concept. Connection of the tribe. They live together, they hunt together. They become one. So I’m telling them about this concept—this is really far out—and I say, ‘As we go through this camp, go through this season, we’re going to get so close, we’re going to connect in this true fashion. Long Body. It’s going to take us to places we’ve never been before.’ And at the end of my talk I say, ‘As we get through it, I’ll explain it more to you, and I know this to be true so much right now that thunder will strike—’” At that moment, Carroll says, he struck a table with his fist and a clap of thunder shook the building.
and from Trojan Force comes a great piece of advice/ divine wisdom
  • We're talking about what Carroll didn't know when he was with the Patriots in 1997-99, what he has learned since, about finding and refining a philosophy. he's done and he pushes back, puts his hands behind his head, fingers laced, and looks at me. "At some point -- maybe after your parents have died and you're not trying to please them anymore -- at some point you have to decide what truly matters to you and what you believe in. And then you have to have the balls to commit to it.

[UPDATE: And I was thinking about the title Trojan Force and it bothered me for some reason that I couldn't put my finger on until this morning. Is Trojan Force supposed to be a take off of Trojan Horse? Because when I first heard it I think I thought of Magnum Force, which as my mind works made me remember that I think Magnum is a condom size, and as I'm sure everyone knows Trojan is also a brand of condoms. Is that headline suggesting a little more than originally thought? Should the title of this post been "Is Pete Carroll Huge?" Oh how I do love witty headline writers (and my spiraling mind)]

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