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Pete Carroll says DeShawn Shead will do great stuff as a coach

7/11/2021 4:41:51 PM
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After continuing to pursue his playing career through the 2019 season, signing with the Seahawks in training camp, then with New Orleans late in the season, DeShawn Shead moved onto a post-playing career in software sales.

He was good at it—really good—and liked the work he was doing with Icertis, but Shead also kept hearing from coaching contacts with the Seahawks and other teams who were pushing the idea of coaching, John Boyle of reports.

Shead was intrigued by the idea, but he also was concerned about the hours that come with an entry-level NFL coaching job, particularly with two young kids at home, but when he realized that his wife, Jessica, was fully on board, he decided to take Seahawks coach Pete Carroll up on his offer to join Seattle's coaching staff, and now Shead is beginning his coaching career as a defensive assistant/defensive backs coach.

"It's always been something I was very interested in," Shead said. "I've always been a captain at every level that I played, so I find myself just coaching naturally. I love to see when you tell somebody something and then teach somebody something, and they go out there do it successfully. I've always had that in me.

"One thing I was worried about with coaching football—you know, I've played college football and I've played NFL football—so what kind of scares you a little bit is the hours that you put in, right? So that was one of the things that kind of steered me away."

In some ways Shead's transition from player to coach began long before he played his final game or signed his final contract. Throughout his long coaching career, Carroll has at times identified players who might someday become good coaches. When that happens, Carroll might spend a little extra time with that player sharing some coaching wisdom along with the typical coach-player relationship. A good recent example is current Bills special teams coordinator Heath Farwell, who played for Carroll from 2011-2014, then began his coaching career with the Seahawks in 2016.

Carroll saw similar potential in Shead, who began his career in 2012 as an undrafted rookie out of Portland State, and went on to eventually become a special teams captain as well as a starting cornerback.

"We've stayed we stayed in contact for a couple of years here, and he's always been one of our favorite guys, because he's just one of the most true-blue guys we've ever seen in the program— hard working, dedicated smart, creative, tough," Carroll said. "I mean he had all of the elements that we love in the program, big chip on the shoulder, he had to always prove it. So we just kept in contact, and I talked to him a few years back that, 'If you ever thinking about it, let's talk. There'll be a conversation waiting for you.'

He went into the computer sales, business and just kicked butt and became one of the top sales persons in his organization in 18 months or something like that. When I hear that story I go, 'Well of course, that's what Shead would do.' So as we talked about it and as the season was approaching—we talked last year about the upcoming this year—so we just stayed with it."

While Shead's coaching career is only a few months old, he has already made a strong enough impression that Carroll thinks his former player will be able to do big things in his new line of work.

"We brought into this program just an extraordinary competitor, a guy with character and integrity and toughness and smarts and all that, and you can't get enough guys like that around the program," Carroll said. "Interestingly, he's carried over our football and he has retained it and maintains a really good command of what we did, and the techniques of the cornerback position in particular, as well as the safety spot—he played all over for us, big time special teams player for us. So he just has a lot to offer. A lot of guys can play and they don't take that stuff with them; he did. And he's very sharp. So I expect really big things from him, and I think he's going do a great job immediately, but down the road, we're going to see DeShawn Shead do some great stuff. He's really talented."

Even if Carroll saw Shead as a potential coach when he was still playing, that wasn't necessarily on Shead's mind. But when the two talked at a 2019 retirement party for Cliff Avril, Carroll put the idea in Shead's head, and two years later, after mulling over a few different offers from different teams, Shead decided to begin his coaching career where he spent most of his playing career.

"You know, being a captain here on this team at the Seahawks, taking that leadership-type role and being able to talk to the players, being able to help bring in the younger guys," Shead said. "We used to have a saying in our DB room, 'Each one, teach one,' and I took that to heart, and I've always done that and I've enjoyed doing that. It's a passion. It's a passion for me to be able to teach and put the time in and put the effort in and then see it come to fruition, that's my passion.

"So then after I was in that transition, whether I was going to play, I think it was right after the (2018) season, I remember talking to Coach Carroll, we were at Cliff Avril's retirement party. And he was like, 'You know, D-Shead, I know you're still trying to play. I know you're going to play forever. But just to let you know, if you're ever interested in coaching, give me a call because we'd love to have you on the staff.' So, and that was a few years ago. So he did plant that seed. That's the first time I remember him planting that coaching seed."

And while there were other opportunities, starting his coaching career in Seattle was the perfect fit, not just because his family calls it home, but because he already knows the defense and many of the other coaches well.

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