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Gregg Bell: Pete Carroll accepts NFL fine, says he needs to be better wearing a mask in Seahawks games

News Tribune, Tacoma, Wash. logoNews Tribune, Tacoma, Wash. 9/24/2020 By Gregg Bell, The News Tribune (Tacoma, Wash.)

Pete Carroll is as rah-rah a game-day coach as there is in sports.

He revels in walking, not stalking, the entire sideline. He enthusiastically exhorts his players. He pats them on their helmets and shoulder pads. In the Seahawks’ opener in Atlanta two weeks ago, his booming “whoooo!” at each big play in Seattle’s win could be heard throughout the empty stadium.

He is, in every way, a hands-on, quite vocal coaches during Seahawks games.

Now Carroll has to figure out a way to communicate the way he wants to—while still sending what he believes is the right message about masks and the coronavirus pandemic.

The coach is down $100,000. He got fined that by the NFL this week because he didn’t wear a mask enough during Seattle’s nationally televised game against New England to satisfy the league and its mandates to conduct this COVID-19 season.

San Francisco’s Kyle Shanahan, Denver’s Vic Fangio, New Orleans’ Sean Payton and Las Vegas’ Jon Gruden were the other coaches fined $100,000 each for not wearing masks during games in week two. The Seahawks, 49ers, Broncos, Saints and Raiders were also fined $250,000 each. That’s a total of $1.75 million in fines by the league for not wearing masks during games last weekend.

The league’s chief medical officer has said the league will continue to enforce coaches wear masks throughout games. On the league-owned NFL Network last week, Dr. Allen Sills cited science that suggests shouting, as coaches tend to do during games, could amplify the spread of COVID-19.

“We know that one of the biggest exposure times is if some is yelling or speaking really loudly,” Sills said. “That’s when you can really project a lot of aerosolized droplets into the air.”

An irony in his fine is that Carroll has been consistent in wearing an either black or white neck gaiter throughout practices and around team headquarters since the start of training camp last month. He enforces his players wear masks during the one or two practices each week that don’t include helmets.

Can the Seahawks’ 69-year-old coach effectively communicate the way he wants to with his players while still adhering to the NFL’s mask policy during games?

“It’s interesting you would say it that way,” Carroll said Wednesday.

“Coaches, you know, we all have the way that we work and the style that we work with. Some guys are different. We’re different. We’re all unique, I think, in some regard.”

In other words: he’s not, say, Bill Belichick—who remarkably did not get fined for wearing this on the opposite sideline from Carroll Sunday night:

“In this time, I know personally I have to adapt,” Carroll said. “I’ve got to fix some things to stay in compliance. I just need to do better.”

The league’s oldest coach is making a concerted effort to show mask compliance this week. He’s worn them inside the team facility room into two remote, Zoom press conferences with the media. He was wearing it during practice indoors Wednesday, even as others dropped theirs to speak to him.

“But if you watch us on the sidelines, some guys coach one way, some coach another way. I’m kind of on the move,” he said. “Some things I got to get across to whomever—at least it seems like that’s the case. Hopefully, it helps sometimes.

“I have to be able to transition. It is difficult in the movement of the game to be heard. That’s the problem. You saw the play callers have to adapt as well. Those guys are talking every snap.

“Looks like Andy has a real good thing with the welder equipment he’s wearing.”

Andy is Andy Reid, coach of the defending Super Bowl-champion Kansas City Chiefs. Reid, 62, has been wearing a clear face shield while calling his teams offensive plays. In shape, it does look like a sort of welder’s helmet.

Fangio told reporters in Colorado this week after he got fined he may go the Reid route on the sidelines during games.

Is Carroll thinking of going with the Reid welder mask?

“I don’t think that one is mine. I’m going to come up with something else,” he said.

He called on Seahawks fans to help him.

“I’m expecting some young person to send me a message or something, send me an example. Draw me up one. We’ll try to create it. I need some help.

The NFL took the action of fining Carroll and the other coaches days after sending all teams a memorandum last week warning of consequences for coaches that did not wear masks.

“The NFL-NFLPA Game Day Protocol, which reflects the advice of infectious disease experts, club medical staff and local and state governmental regulations requires all individuals with bench area access (including coaches and members of the club medical staff) to wear face coverings at all times,” the memo from NFL vice president of football operations Troy Vincent stated last week.

“Failure to adhere to this requirement will result in accountability measures being imposed...”

Carroll knows the rule isn’t going away, and he doesn’t think it should. He and his wife Glena are considering not getting COVID-19 this season a person challenge, one he intends to meet.

His team has had zero verified positive results in the daily virus testing of players, coaches and staff in direct contact with them. Those tests began having July 28, the day they reported for training camp.

“Anyway, we’ve got to figure it out and got to do better. It’s too important to wear these masks,” Carroll said.

“If nothing else, we send a good image out. I have to send a better image out supporting the fact that we know here. and we know that masks are a big difference, can make a big difference. We’ve had tremendous success keeping our guys safe. Our guys wear masks in our walk-throughs, meetings. We all do.

“I just did a poor job game time.”

———

©2020 The News Tribune (Tacoma, Wash.)

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