As if Seahawks coach Pete Carroll hasn’t created enough problems for himself via potentially reckless disregard of the rules that applied to his team’s activities at USC, Carroll possibly has re-launched his NFL tenure by getting himself in line for a tampering claim.
In Thursday’s appearance on 106.7 The Fan in D.C. with Chad Dukes and Brian Mitchell (who was subbing for LaVar Arrington), Dukes sought out Carroll’s opinion on recalcitrant Redskins defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth, and Dukes prefaced his question by pointing out the existence of rumors that the Seahawks could be interested in the man who isn’t interested in playing nose tackle in a 3-4 defense.
In such situations, prudent NFL coaches say something like this: “Haynesworth is under contract with the Redskins. So, guys, I just can’t talk about him.”
Prudent NFL coaches take that approach because the league’s Anti-Tampering Policy contains the following language: “Any public or private statement of interest, qualified or unqualified, in another club’s player to that player’s agent or representative, or to a member of the news media, is a violation of this Anti-Tampering Policy. (Example of a prohibited comment: ‘He’s an excellent player, and we’d very much like to have him if he were available, but another club holds his rights.’)”
Here’s what Carroll said about Haynesworth: “I’m not gonna make a decision, declaration on something like that without knowing the player, hearing the situation, and gathering as much as you can. Because you don’t ever really know the whole story until you dig in. . . . We were interested in the thought of him because he’s such a fantastic player, but if he wants to play the game. That’s what you have to figure out. Where’s the love of the game in all this? And where does this all fit in? Because if you’re getting a guy that’s, regardless of what you’re playing him at, if his heart isn’t in it 1000 percent, he wants to be great and part of a great team, then you need to get another guy. It just depends, and I would look deep into it and we started the process because we thought maybe they weren’t gonna be able to come to a deal and they were gonna make him available, but it didn’t work out that way.”
On the surface, Carroll’s words could be interpreted as ultimately indicating that the team has no interest in Haynesworth. Thus, there’s no violation.
But read between the lines. Carroll makes it clear that the Seahawks were interested, and he indirectly provides some clues as to things that could renew that interest, such as a demonstration of the “love of the game” and a desire to “be great and part of a great team.”
Moreover, it’s not as if the situation has been resolved via Haynesworth and Shanahan hugging it out. Haynesworth hasn’t rescinded his statement regarding his desire not to play in a 3-4 defense, and if he and/or his agent know that the Seahawks could still be interested, maybe Haynesworth will behave differently at training camp.
Of course, the notion that the Redskins would suggest that the Seahawks or anyone else tampered with Haynesworth would ooze more irony than a Brett Favre biceps tattoo that reads “4ever young.” After all, it’s widely believed (albeit not proven by the league) that the Redskins had contact with Haynesworth and/or his agent before the launch of the free-agency signing period in 2009. Moreover, the league rarely pushes tampering cases aggressively, and even then only when X-rays show the cookie jar residing in the stomach of the offending team.
So while Carroll most likely won’t get into any trouble over this, the fact that he’d even take the risk shows that either he doesn’t know the rules, or he doesn’t care.
In other words, the guy who coached at USC, for better or worse, hasn’t really changed.