According to a report by The Athletic on Friday, Russell Wilson pushed to get Seahawks coach Pete Carroll fired before leaving Seattle, though the Denver Broncos quarterback later denied it on social media.
According to the report, in February 2022, Wilson asked Seahawks to fire Carroll and general manager John Schneider in hopes the team would hire Sean Payton as coach.
In his denial, Wilson tweeted Friday morning that Carroll “was a father figure to me” and that Schneider “believed in me and drafted me too.”
“I never wanted them fired. All any of us wanted was to win,” Wilson wrote. “I will always respect her and love Seattle.”
I love Pete and he was a father figure to me and John believed in me and raised me too. I never wanted them fired. All each of us wanted was to win.
I will always respect her and love Seattle.
— Russell Wilson (@DangeRussWilson) February 24, 2023
A lawyer for Wilson also denied the report as “entirely fabricated.” The Seahawks declined to comment to The Athletic.
ESPN previously reported on the strained relationship between Wilson and the Seahawks during his 10-year tenure in Seattle, with sources describing a dysfunctional situation that was nearing its ultimate breaking point.
Wilson was eventually traded to the Broncos in March for a move that included multiple first- and second-round picks and quarterback Drew Lock, who served as Geno Smith’s replacement when the Seahawks made the playoffs in 2022.
After the trade, the Broncos gave Wilson a five-year, $245 million extension that included $165 million in guaranteed money. But they stumbled to a 5-12 season in 2022 that resulted in the firing of first-year coach Nathaniel Hackett and the signing of Payton as his replacement.
The Athletic also detailed problems with Wilson’s first season at Denver, with players, coaches and staff questioning some of the quarterback’s control. Examples included weekly private meetings with the offense held by Wilson, an office for Wilson located away from his teammates, game suggestions from Wilson that Hackett would add to the game schedule, and personal staff the quarterback was allowed to have at the team facility.
Payton appeared to quash some of Wilson’s power earlier this month when the coach said at his inaugural press conference that Wilson’s personal quarterback trainer Jake Heaps would no longer be at the Broncos facility.
“I’m not too familiar with that,” Payton said on Feb. 6 when asked if Wilson had heaps in the building with access last season. “It’s alien to me. It’s not going to happen. I don’t know. Our staff will be here, our players will be here and that’s what it will be.”
Payton also pledged that Wilson and all Broncos players would be held to his standard.
“You’re in law and order, as Bill [Parcells] would say,” said Payton. “…You come in and that’s how we’re going to teach, that’s how we’re going to meet, that’s how we’re going to practice. … Discipline, toughness and football makeup will be very important to the Denver Bronco. There’s an element of discipline, there’s an element of toughness, and look, it’s not for everyone.”
Payton later added, “I know what it looks like and I know what it doesn’t look like. And sometimes we don’t ask. Sometimes it’s non-negotiable.”
The Seahawks opened the 2022 season with a 17-16 win over the Broncos on Monday Night Football, with Wilson and Carroll only briefly interacting after the game. Carroll called the win “really worthwhile” in a radio interview the following day.
“I didn’t need the confirmation,” Carroll told Seattle Sports 710-AM. “I just wanted it. I just wanted to win. I wanted to win for all of the reasons that comes with this. Maybe as much as anything represents the guys that have played before. It meant a lot to those guys. I was so excited to see these to hug guys and see them and be able to look them in the eye.”
Information from ESPN’s Jeff Legwold and Brady Henderson was used in this report.
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