RENTON, Wash. -- Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll may have been happy to have most of his players back on the field for the start of the team's 2013 series of voluntary OTAs, but that was not the first thing on his mind on Monday. Nor should it have been. Instead, when Carroll addressed the media after a spirited two-hour non-contact practice, his thoughts went immediately -- and comprehensively -- to the fact that six different Seahawks players have been suspended for violations of the NFL's substance abuse policies since 2010, and to the increasing perception that Carroll is leading a team that can't get out of its own way. Carroll was forced to address the situation this time because defensive end Bruce Irvin, the team's first-round pick in 2012, was recently suspended for the first four games of the 2013 season for reported Adderall use.
"This is a challenge -- it’s a challenge for us, and it’s a challenge for the league," Carroll said during a five-minute statement at the beginning of his press conference. "The league is doing everything they can to help guys make it through these young careers that they have, from teaching, to instructing, also the punitive side of it. They're doing a really good job and they’re in it for the right reasons, and we are too. We go beyond with what the league does. We go well past with what the guidelines ask us to do as far as working with our young guys trying to give them the direction, trying to give them the counseling. We have people on staff that are here specifically to work with our individual guys because I really see this as an individual challenge."
Right now, it's a collective challenge for the organization. Irvin's suspension followed the suspensions of cornerbacks Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner in 2012 (both for Adderall, though Sherman's was later overturned on appeal), and the earlier suspensions of guard John Moffitt, offensive tackle Allen Barbre, and defensive back Winston Guy. The NFL does not release the reasons for these suspensions, but Moffit admitted that he took Adderall before he knew he needed a medical exemption. Not even counting the overturned Sherman suspension, that still puts the Seahawks in the NFL lead when it comes to such suspensions since 2010.
And it's worth wondering, as some jokesters might, whether the Seahawks are now an Adderall team with a football problem.
Carroll is now saddled with the perception that he's lost control of the ship. Right or wrong, a team that many experts believe could represent the NFC in the Super Bowl has been pegged as a loose cannon. It's not something that he wants to deal with, especially when these perceptions are added to the scandals that contributed to his departure from USC in 2009. Can Carroll can maintain order in these more difficult circumstances? Can any NFL head coach, and how is that best done?Read More »from Seahawks try to stem the tide of perception regarding substance abuse suspensions