Gil LeBreton

Seahawks’ Carroll enjoying a timely makeover

Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, in a turnabout from last year, is being cast the the good guy in the Super Bowl coaching matchup.
Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, in a turnabout from last year, is being cast the the good guy in the Super Bowl coaching matchup. AP

Good versus evil.

Let us say, for a minute, that that glib assessment was even remotely on target, which it isn’t.

Which Super Bowl XLIX head coach is which?

It was only 12 months ago, after all, that Pete Carroll and the Seattle Seahawks found themselves cast in the Super Bowl villains’ role.

Retold tales of performance-enhancing drug suspensions — the Seahawks are the A-Rods of the NFL — and Carroll’s timely escape from Southern Cal livened the build-up to last year’s big game.

Suddenly, what’s this? New England’s Bill Belichick has been branded the football world’s most notorious serial cheater, and Carroll is the gum-chomping, butt-slapping, happy-go-lucky guy who just lets his boys be boys.

That, my friends, is quite a makeover — if it were only true.

Oh, Carroll is still squeezing shoulders this Super Bowl week and slapping butts and smiling while trying to keep the canary feathers from showing on his mouth. He has even made it easy this week to forget that Sunday’s opponents, the Patriots, are still owned by the guy who once fired him.

At age 63 and with one Lombardi Trophy already on his mantel, Carroll has been calling that dismissal after the 1999 season a necessity.

“It gave me the opportunity to collect my thoughts about moving forward and to get pointed in the direction that, really, we’ve maintained ever since,” Carroll told reporters.

His year away from football, before accepting the USC job, allowed him to crystallize his “Win Forever” philosophy and all the other pop coaching argots that he now espouses.

As Carroll put it, “I’m going to take it that the way [the firing] happened was necessary.

“The pain and the struggle, the hardship and then the challenges of bouncing back were all part of the rebirth of the philosophy and a mentality.”

The most often cited of Carroll’s pseudo-revolutionary ideas is that he lets his players be themselves. But wasn’t that inscribed under the old Oakland Raiders’ skull and crossbones?

Certainly, there are duller NFL teams than the Seahawks, whose relaxed banter this week — Marshawn Lynch being the mute exception — has been somewhat disarming.

But there’s no escaping the image that Seattle’s Legion of Boom presents. They play angry. They hit hard.

Then again, it may just be the steroids.

Carroll, who can be a ready and engaging speaker, has never shed much light on the Seahawks’ past PED suspensions. His response was to invite the NFL equivalent of letting the seniors lecture the underclassmen on the evils of using medications without a prescription.

The Southern Cal penalties, his supporters say, happened a long time ago and were the dirty work, not of the unsuspecting Carroll, but rather a greedy Reggie Bush.

Well, if you insist.

A week around Carroll can show why some find him so easy to like. It’s just like the fuzzy, sincere feeling you get when you walk into the showroom to buy a new car.

Poor Belichick, of course, has none of those people skills. He’s the guy who won’t smile and who let the air out of the footballs and tried to steal another team’s signals.

Dr. Evil, in a hooded sweatshirt.

Pete Carroll, by comparison, is this week’s Good Time Charlie. Smiling. Playfully slapping posteriors. Ignoring those few chapters of his past.

That’s some makeover.

Gil LeBreton, 817-390-7697

Twitter: @gilebreton

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