Fan fiction: Pete Carroll's 'Mole' undoes Denver

I've cooked up a conspiracy theory that explains what happened to the Broncos, and while I concede I'm making this story up, I'm not sure it's any more ridiculous than what has actually transpired.

I’ve done some new things this year whether it was writing copy for Kenmore Air’s Web site or having a column about my father’s shotgun published in Seattle Magazine.

So how about some outright fiction? Never really tried that so why not give that a whirl. They say you should write what you know, though, so I’ll start with a fictionalized account that is based on some familiar characters.

(Author’s note: This story is a piece of fiction. Do not continue if you’re looking for anything that resembles journalism or you lack a sense of humor. It is written as a light-hearted spoof of the utterly unbelievable way this season has transpired for the Denver Broncos and Russell Wilson. It is an entirely free post because it feels awfully audacious to sell my first piece of fiction. I’m an amateur after all. Finally, I formally forbid this dork from reading any further. Beat it dweeb.)

The silver fox with the crooked nose walked into the waterfront bar wearing his Maui Jim polarized sunglasses, a long sleeve T-shirt and the khaki pants he insistes upon referring to as “utility trousers.”

“They’re perfect for anything,” he says. “You can play hoops in them, conduct a press conference or put on a collared shirt and head out to dinner at a steakhouse.”

Apparently, you can even wear them while plotting to turn an entire industry upside down, which is exactly what the oldest coach in the nation’s most lucrative sports league was seeking to do on this February afternoon in 2022. But first, he needed to get someone on board.

“Meeting your wife, coach?” the hostess asked as he walked in.

Mary Anne knew his patterns. February is the one time of year pro football tended to slip off the front page of the local sports section even here in Seattle, and the coach would start coming by couple times of month for the next half a year, maybe a little more often if it was sunny. He would get a table by the window or – if it was warm – one on the deck, call his wife and they’d have something between a late lunch and an early dinner. His profession had taken them all over the country, but you could tell they were from the West Coast by everything from their preference for lightly seasoned seafood — “You’ve got to taste the fish!” — to their desire to see the outdoors even if they weren’t sitting in it.

“Actually, it’s someone else,” said the coach with the crooked nose. “He’s already here,” gesturing with his head toward the solidly built young man sitting alone at a table in the very middle of the room.

“You know how to put the ‘B’ in subtle don’t you,” the coach said. “You couldn’t be any more obvious.”

“I’ve got to sit in a corner and hide the fact I’m talking to my coach?” the player said.

“Fair point,” the coach said, pulling out a chair to sit down, “but then again we’ve never had a conversation quite like this.”

The coach then turned to Mary Anne and said, “We’re getting an entrée-sized order of the crab legs to split, and each get a rib-eye, cooked medium-rare.”

“I like mine well done, coach,” the quarterback interjected.

“BOTH cooked medium-rare,” the coach repeated, “Side of creamed spinach, side of potatoes au gratin, but I need you to ask the chef to wait at least 40 minutes before firing the steaks. We’ve got a lot to discuss and we’re not going to be ready to eat dinner for another 55 minutes.”

She nodded and turned away from the table, understanding the play call perfectly. And with that the coach began his pitch. "You want to get back into the Super Bowl, right?"

“A couple times. At least. That’s what I want my legacy to be.”

“Good,” said the coach. “I want you to keep talking that way: ‘my legacy.’ I want to get back, too. But we need new tackles, a pass rush and I've got a real hankering for another running back, but right now we don’t even have so much as a single friggin’ first-round pick so I’ve been over here racking my brain trying to come up with a way out of this, and I got something I want you to try on.

“Now, it's going to take at least a year and requires an absolutely cast-iron constitution, but I think we can shore things up and make you the biggest hero in the history of Seattle.”

At this point the quarterback’s eyes lit up, “You talking about letting me cook, coach?”

“What?” the coach said, puzzled. “Cook? You just heard me order our dinners. No, I don’t need you to cook. I need you to be willing to be hated.”

Now the quarterback looked at him puzzled.

“Uhhhhh, that’s kind of the exact opposite of becoming a hero,” he said, twisting the top off a bottle he produced from the backpack he had at his feet. The coach eyeballed him for a second before asking, “Did you bring in your own drink?”

“Nanobubbles,” the quarterback said. “Gotta’ keep a clear head.”

“OK. Where was I?”

“Being willing to have people to hate me,” the player said, “as if that could ever happen.”

“It’s going to take some work,” the coach conceded, “but maybe you could start by saying 'my legacy' any time you talk about your future.”

"I don't know," the quarterback said, “that sounds really off-putting.”

"I know, I know," commiserated the coach, shuffling his clonky sneakers against the carpet, "it goes totally against your nature, but you're going to have to trust me here. We need a solid set-up because while you're talking about Super Bowls, John Schneider is going to be out there finding our mark.

"We're going to need someone who’s a little bit desperate, I don’t know, a once-proud franchise that knows what it's like to have a franchise quarterback, maybe had a brief fling with a second Hall of Famer before falling missing the playoffs for something like six consecutive seasons and boy are they out there looking for some answer at quarterback."

You could tell the coach was getting into it because he’d stopped finishing one thought before he started onto the next. His speech wasn’t really a stream of conscious so much as a 10-car freeway pileup of sentences that were only 75-percent complete.

“Wait a minute coach,” said the quarterback. “Are you saying you want to trade me?”

“Just for a little while,” the coach said. "We're going to goose them for all we can, but the final agreement is going to look like we got fleeced because you’re a freaking franchise quarterback and those never ever get traded in this league. But here's where it gets really difficult.”

“Uh oh,” the quarterback said.

“You're going to get roasted on the way out of Seattle,” the coach said, "I mean absolutely torched. Not sure if anyone's going to burn your jersey, but they're going to be mad and you're going to feel that you've wasted all the cachet you've built up over the past decade, and it's going to get worse before it gets better.

"That's because we need you to lay it on extra thick with your new fan base. Come up with a catch phrase, something you say at the end of every press conference like "Go 'Hawks!" with extra cheese. Buy a big house. Huge. A dozen bathrooms. Wear your own jersey when you arrive in that huge-ass truck for the first day of training camp."

At this point the quarterback started getting nervous. "Really," he said, disbelief impossible to miss, "Do I have to do all that? I mean at some point it's not just the people in Seattle who're rolling their eyes. Everyone in the whole dang country is going to think I'm a douche.”

“Hard to believe, but that might happen,” the coach conceded, “Hell, you can even try to get your new team to give you your own office like you asked for here. I'm pretty sure no team would ever agree to that, though. I mean, even the Patriots curbed how much latitude they gave Tom Brady with his avocado ice-cream merchant."

“Wait a minute,” the quarterback interjected, “Brady had his own ice-cream guy on staff? Why don’t I have one of those?”

The coach refused to acknowledge the question.

"Now don't worry,” Carroll said, “We're not going to ask you to risk your financial future. After everything this team gives up to get you, they're going to sign you to a top-shelf extension. Hell, they're liable to give you more than we would. I just talked to our GM and that salary-cap guy we’ve got who pinches quarters so hard the eagle screams. He's got all sorts of worries that he’s already chewing on my ear about, but this way, you get that new contract with as much guaranteed money as possible and this absolutely has to happen before the season starts because that's when things are going to get real."

The quarterback stammered, "What ... what do you mean, 'real'?"

The coach leaned forward, his Maui Jim sunglasses now hanging from the band that was looped around the back of his neck. The coach looked his quarterback dead in his eyes and leveled with him.

"Once the season starts you're going to play like you've forgotten the first, second and third thing you ever knew about playing this game. You'll throw it when you should run. You'll run it when you should throw it away. You'll get sacked like you’ve never been sacked before, which is going to be hard because you get sacked an awful lot. You’re going to use line calls from Seattle, and radio hosts who are former players in this new city you’re playing in will start saying publicly that you've absolutely lost your marbles”

“Coach this doesn’t sound so good for me,” the quarterback said.

“It’s going to be horrible,” the coach conceded. “Players on opposing teams will crack jokes. Kickers. Kickers will crack jokes, and I’m not going to lie to you, Richard Sherman is going to have an absolute field day with this one.”

"Why would I ever do this to my legacy?" the quarterback asked.

“Oooh,” the coach said. “You said, ‘My legacy,’ That’s good.”

Then the coach answered the quarterback’s question: "Because you'll be helping us. We're going to have your new team's first-round pick, and we need that pick to be as high as possible. I'm talking top-five choice."

It was at this point the quarterback furrowed his brow and wondered if the oldest coach in the NFL had once and for all gone completely around the bend.

"So let me get this straight," the quarterback said. "You want me to take a flamethrower to my reputation in Seattle by agreeing to be traded, introduce myself to this new city as an absolutely entitled doof before playing so poorly that I become a league-wide joke with the end goal being I deliver you a top-five draft pick while I'm stuck in this new city that hates me."

At this point the 71-year-old coach cracked a slight smile, one eye visibly twinkling.

"Who says you're going to be stuck there?" the coach said.

“Say we trade you to a team with a new owner that comes from one of the richest families in this country,” the coach said. “Somebody that’s not liable to be too happy to find out this new package he purchased is actually a bag of dog poop that we lit on fire and tossed on his porch. He might be so mad he’s willing to eat a good portion of that money just to show people just how unwilling he is to put up with this here losing and that means you’re going to be free to pick a new spot to play and salary won’t even be an issue at that point.”

"Just imagine," the coach said, "what Seattle is going to be like after your first game back when this city realizes everything that you did for this team. The dedication, the sacrifice for someone to be so incredibly tone deaf while playing such god awful football while never giving off even the slightest hint that it was part of a greater plan.

“I’ve even come up with the perfect way to announce the return. It’s late on a week night, you’re in bed with the covers pulled up, your bare chest just visible. You pull out your phone and record a video: ‘Hey Seattle,’ you say, ‘we pulled off a steal.’ “

And at this point the coach stopped talking, Mary Anne walked out with a tray stacked with the finest meats and cheeses in all the land, a feast befitting the plot that had just been hatched.

“You’re either competing or you’re not,” the coach said.

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