Deep Cover

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That's what J.R. Moehringer went when he wrote this story for the L.A. Times magazine on Pete Carroll, who was still coaching college football at the time. It's a self-aware piece but still intriguing:

Some time after midnight Carroll and Taylor head for the van. Time to get back to Heritage Hall, where Carroll will catch a few hours of sleep on his office floor before his assistant coaches start showing up. A young man stops Carroll, takes the coach aside and becomes emotional while explaining how much this visit has meant to him. He gives Carroll a bracelet, something he made, a symbol of brotherhood and solidarity. Carroll accepts the bracelet as if it were a Rolex. He’ll wear it for days, often pushing back his sleeve to admire and play with it. He gives several young men his cell phone number—something he’s never offered me—and tells them to call if they ever need to talk. One, an ex-con, will call early the next morning and confide in Carroll about his struggles feeding his family. Carroll will vow to help find him a job. (So far, Taylor says, Carroll has found part-time jobs for 40 young men.)

Driving back to campus, Taylor is bleary-eyed, I’m half asleep, and Carroll looks as if he could go for a brisk 5K run, then start a big home improvement project. I ask Taylor if people on the streets ever seem suspicious of Carroll. Do they ever think he’s grandstanding or recruiting—or crazy? Taylor says he’s heard almost no cynicism, though he admits that he was doubtful at first. “Pete was like, ‘I want to go through the community with you,’ ” Taylor says. Sure, Taylor told Carroll, assuming it was just talk. Then, late one night, Taylor’s phone rang.

Hey, Bo, what’s up?

Not much. Who’s this?


Pete who?

Pete Carroll. Hey, man, I’m ready, man. When can we go out there?

Taylor was stunned. Not only did Carroll follow through, but there was something in his tone. He was asking to visit neighborhoods where police don’t like to go, and he was asking without fear. “He asked like he wasn’t afraid,” Taylor says. He turns to look at me in the backseat, to make sure I’m sufficiently astonished or to make sure I’m still awake. “He asked that shit like he was not afraid.