RENTON, Wash. — During his decade in Los Angeles, Pete Carroll felt the void.
Even though USC football was the biggest thing in the Los Angeles area during the 2000s and Carroll was the architect behind the dominant Trojans, there was something missing in the football community without the NFL.
“It just didn’t feel right,” Carroll said. “There was a hole there that was so obvious. That’s why the league was so adamant and so diligent about staying with it and eventually getting it done.”
Perhaps it’s just coincidence — but most likely not — that Carroll’s Seattle Seahawks will be the first visiting NFL team to play in Los Angeles in 22 years when they face the Rams on Sunday. Six other teams will visit the Coliseum this season. Many of those will have a number of players from California, typically one of the top states for producing NFL players.
But few of those will match the connections and history that the Seahawks have.
“There is still a connection. It was that deep of an experience with the fans and the school and the community and all that,” Carroll said.
Carroll has the most obvious history from his nine years as the head coach at USC. He arrived at USC under heavy scrutiny as a twice-fired NFL reject and made the Trojans champions again.
“I saw it really as an opportunity,” Carroll said. “Our first game we played San Jose State and there were like 40,000 people there. When there’s 40,000 people in that stadium it’s like there’s nobody home, it’s like a spring game. I was kind of disappointed, I was like, ‘This is what it’s like?’ It changed after a while. It was always obvious to me that there were tremendous opportunities.”
There are others who are relishing their opportunity to play in LA. Seattle linebacker Bobby Wagner grew up 45 minutes from the Coliseum and hoped to play for the Trojans in college. He ended up at Utah State instead, making this weekend his first opportunity to play in the venerable stadium.
“When I saw that on the schedule I definitely was excited to not only play my first game in L.A., but to also play the first game since whenever it was,” Wagner said. “I think it’s a fun opportunity, we have a lot of California guys that are looking forward to it. I’ve never gotten a chance to have all my family there. I have family who can’t travel because of certain things, so to be 45 minutes away and have them come see a game, I’m looking forward to it.”
Richard Sherman also has a lengthy history, one that Carroll would rather forget. During his time at Stanford, Sherman was part of two of the more memorable Cardinal wins at the Coliseum.
Sherman caught a key fourth down pass on the winning drive of Stanford’s 24-23 upset of USC in 2007 that ended the Trojans’ 35-game home winning streak. Two years later, Sherman came back as a cornerback and returned an interception 43 yards for a touchdown in Stanford’s 55-21 blowout that became known as the “What’s your deal” game.
“I’m sure it’s going to be huge for Pete, it’s going to be cool,” Sherman said. “He has a lot of good memories and some bad memories in that stadium. It’s going to be fun. I have a lot of great memories, very fond.”
NOTES: QB Russell Wilson practiced Wednesday despite the sprained right ankle suffered in Sunday’s win. “His attitude is as charged up as you can imagine,” Carroll said. … Carroll said RB Thomas Rawls will get the start against the Rams. Christine Michael was the starter in the opener. … RB C.J. Prosise is practicing this week but has a large protective club on his right hand after suffering a small bone fracture in the opener.