Avril: Seahawks began to question Carroll after SB XLIX

Now that Seattle's celebrated Legion of Boom defense has started to crumble, it's natural to wonder if the dynasty window has closed with just one Lombardi Trophy in the Pete Carroll era.

If not for Malcolm Butler's history-altering interception that swung Super Bowl XLIX in New England's direction, in fact, recently released defensive end Cliff Avril believes his ring finger wouldn't be so lonesome.

"You think about what could have happened," Avril said Thursday on the Dave Dameshek Football Program. "If we win that Super Bowl, I think we probably would have won another one within the two years that went by."

It's certainly reasonable for a talented professional athlete to believe his star-studded squad would have achieved even greater heights if the ball had bounced differently. In this case, though, Avril also believes the Seahawks would have been more successful had Carroll handled the end of that title game with more aplomb.

"I do think the team would have bought in more to what Coach Carroll was saying," Avril explained, "instead of going the opposite way of, hey, this is what we thought the foundation of the team was, and that's not what happened in that particular play.

"So I think guys started questioning him more, more so than actually following his lead if we'd won that Super Bowl."

Having reached a football epiphany relatively late in his coaching career, Carroll has reinvented himself as one of the NFL's most philosophically open and psychologically agile figures. Although he has conceded that his decision to pass the ball in that situation was "the worst result of a call ever," he also insisted that the journey means more than the moment.

From Avril's perspective, the moment has haunted the Seahawks ever since.

"The situation sucked regardless of who took the blame," Avril continued. "It's just the fact that we were so close and we weren't able to get it, so I think a lot of guys got turned off by the message."

If some of those veterans gradually tuned out the head coach, might that help to explain why former nucleus players such as Michael Bennett and Richard Sherman will take the field in different uniforms this season?

Carroll's Super Bowl XLIX decision will be dissected as long as football is played. The shame is that one play involving manifold factors beyond Carroll's control will end up shaping the legacy that defines his Seattle career.

That's the unfortunate byproduct of a zero-sum game in which 97 percent of the participants go home disappointed each year.

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