Apparently, the NFL thinks the Super Bowl champion Seahawks are just too tough for the rest of the league and need to learn to play a softer brand of football -- you know, the sissified version the union and the league office have been pushing since Roger Goodell became commissioner.
The NFL has sent along a couple of punitive missives lately that have been aimed directly at the Seahawks -- in effect chastising them for living Pete Carroll's mantra of "Always Compete."
NFL: "Hey, everyone, did you see how the Seahawks manhandled offenses last year on their way to the Super Bowl title? Well, we're not going to let anyone do that anymore. Physical play by defensive backs will not be tolerated this season."
NFL: "Speaking of physical play, we're fining the Seahawks for practicing the game of football incorrectly during the offseason. Remember, the union wants its players to not have to work to earn the six- to 10-figure salaries they get. In the offseason, football is a non-contact sport. Remember that."
The NFL can cry about Carroll's coaching tactics all it wants, but the Seahawks will remain aggressive and unaffected by the league's whining.
The NFL dumping on the Seahawks is nothing new. Long before Carroll arrived, the NFL tried to shut up Seattle's fans with noise rules, kicked the Hawks around in realignment twice and heavily contributed to the Hawks' loss in their first Super Bowl.
Since Carroll arrived, it has been more of the same. The league has criticized Carroll for practicing his team like a football team should practice, tried to bully Seattle players into undeserved suspensions, limited the Hawks' prime-time exposure because they beat up teams too much at home, and now is using the Hawks as its template for emasculating NFL defenders even more than they have been.
Carroll said he doesn't think the NFL is picking on his team any more than usual -- he certainly has to be used to it by now.
“No, I don’t feel like the victim. No, I don’t at all," he said Wednesday. "I think that we practice in a manner that draws attention, and we have for a long time."
Unlike past Seattle administrations, Carroll -- as flexible as any coach in league history -- has been able to overcome every hurdle the league has thrown against him and his team.
Logic and audacity are the bane of rules mongers like the NFL, the antidote for institutional idiocy and the formula for foiling ridiculous regulations and beating the system. Carroll has the savvy and gumption to skirt senseless rules and make them work in his favor.
Carroll says he wants to "do it right," but the reason he is so successful is that he dares to "do it right up to the line." He has always coached his team to play physically and to be prepared to overcome any setbacks based on subjective rulings.
After the Seahawks were punished in 2012 for physical minicamp drills, Carroll thought they had figured out what the hypersensitive union and grievance-wary league were looking for. But the dandies in the league office got uptight again this year after Carroll's players were seen "always competing."
"I’m really disappointed," Carroll said. "I don’t want to be doing things wrong. I want to do things right. I like to show exactly how to do it. When you’re competing like we do, we are trying to do things the best you can possibility to do it. Unfortunately, this decision makes it look otherwise."
Not that it matters.
The Seahawks led the league in penalties last season and still won the Super Bowl. They have been less affected than most teams by the preseason focus on defensive pass coverage, and they certainly won't be bothered by losing a couple of minicamp practices next year.
Carroll and John Schneider gather only the most competitive personalities for their team. Even if Carroll and his coaches can't be around to run practices, you can bet the players will marshal themselves. At the least, quarterback Russell Wilson and the skill players might stay down in California a little longer for their beach football drills while the Legion of Boom studies more film.
An even better message by Seattle players would be to channel the 1987 Seahawks, who ran their own drills without coaches even while they were on strike. That would tell the NFL and the union that the Seahawks plan to play tough with or without coaches.
Just because NFL suits want a soft brand of football doesn't mean the Seahawks have to bow to that pathetic mandate. The league can chastise Carroll and his team all it wants, but it won't stop the Seahawks from playing football the right way.