KIRO NEWSRADIO OPINION

Gee: Is Pete Carroll the real life Ted Lasso?

May 25, 2023, 1:21 PM | Updated: Jun 5, 2023, 1:10 pm

I just finished five episodes of Season 1 of Ted Lasso, and I can’t believe how late I am to the party. There was something about the name of the show and the mustache of the main character that had me in doubt. Now that I’m here, I can’t believe how familiar this is going all the way back to 2010 when Pete Carroll became head coach of the Seattle Seahawks.

The Seahawks just came off a 5-11 season and were looking for their next head coach. On a January evening, I was with Rob Sims, an offensive lineman for the Seahawks at the time, at the home of former linebacker Lofa Tatupu. We were hanging out downstairs when the news came through that Carroll would be named the new head coach.

I’ll never forget what Lofa said: “Get ready, this franchise is getting ready to change.”

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I didn’t really understand if he meant for good or for bad, but I assumed he meant for the better, considering the Seahawks were coming off a five win season.

So, for the next couple of months, there was a lot of talk amongst the players, and of course, the entire city, on what this team would be like with Pete as the coach.

Then, in early April 2010, the person that I’m living with, the person that gave me a place to stay when I was unhoused, gets traded. Yep, my mind was made up, I don’t like this Pete guy at all! Selfishly speaking, I’m also wondering where I’m going to live.

Well, let me answer that part first. Sims made sure I stayed there for another year. Crazy right?! Yeah, I can never repay him for what he did for me. Plus, he goes on to start for the Detroit Lions and has a 10-year career.

Oh, and one last thing. The Seahawks traded Sims and a 7th-round pick for defensive end Robert Henderson and a 5th-round pick in the upcoming draft. As for what the Seahawks did with that 5th-round pick, they spent it on some guy named Kam Chancellor, maybe you’ve heard of him.

So, Ted Lasso is about a successful American football collegiate coach who was hired to coach a fútbol club in England’s Premier League. The catch is he has no experience coaching soccer, and a lot of folks think he’ll fail.

As soon as I figured out the plot of the show, all I kept thinking is how this is 2010 all over again. Yes, Pete had success in college, but it wasn’t like that when he last coached in the pros. So, there were a lot of people that didn’t think he’d be successful with the Seahawks, including myself.

I don’t remember exactly when it was, but I remember the first time hearing some of the guys talk about music at practice. While music during practice is as commonplace today as cleats and pop-up dummies, back in 2010, not so much. As a matter of fact, some of the guys were saying how they didn’t believe this “college stuff” would work in the pros.

Then I’d overhear talk about how all this “positive stuff” might not be real. If you’ve ever been around Pete or heard him talk, then you’ve probably caught on to how positive he is. Well, there were some non-believers at first. I’m sure not many would admit it. Don’t worry, let’s just say I’ve forgotten the names.

Former President Teddy Roosevelt once said, “nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care.”

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Ted Lasso is a coach that nobody thinks will succeed, but continued to do things that nobody has ever seen before. Lasso created an environment for everyone that helps create a willingness to succeed, genuinely caring that you are a better person on and off the field. He actually cares about the entire staff, and not just the players — even wanting to know the name of Nathan Shelly (Nate the Great), who, at the time, was the “kit man” and was very surprised that the new head coach even cares to know his name.

That part in Episode 1 made me think about my first interaction with Pete.

I was at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center cleaning vehicles that day when I took a break. I was heading in to use the restroom when I saw Pete outside by the basketball hoop.

We exchanged names, and then he asked if I wanted to play a game of “PIG,” an abbreviated version of the basketball game HORSE. Well, he beat me in the first game. Then he beat me in the second game. After, he said we would do it again someday. (Yo, Pete, when can I get that rematch? You’ve been ducking me.)

That time spent with Pete really changed how I felt about him. It made me feel seen. I felt like I had more purpose. It’s kind of how “Nate the Great” felt when Lasso wanted to know his name.

The first time I cleaned his vehicle, he told me to make sure the keys got put back on his desk. Well afterward, I dropped the keys off with a pile of other keys as I would always do. So, the next time he’s about to hand me his keys to clean his vehicle, he says, “Okay now, make sure the keys get put back on my desk.” Oh yes, from that point on, I made sure to get the keys on his desk.

What we all have learned about Pete over time is that he inspires individuals to reach their greatest potential. I’m sure everyone has their perspective of how they saw things when Pete got there, but I’m just sharing mine.

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I never played one snap and have no idea what it’s like to be a player. However, I do know what it’s like to be the guy cleaning the vehicles. I took pride in that. I worked as if the job I did on their vehicles mattered the same way the shower pressure mattered at the beginning of Ted Lasso.

I wonder if the writers of this show reached out to Pete at all when creating this. Like Ted, there were folks unsure if Pete could win in the NFL. Just like this show, when Pete proved it by creating a productive and positive environment that lead to feeling connected.

When everyone is connected, then everyone feels empowered. When everyone feels empowered, then they all want to buy in (with the Seahawks, you tap the sign that says ‘I’m In’), and when you buy in, then you’re better able to comPETE.

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Gee: Is Pete Carroll the real life Ted Lasso?