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Coach says Irvin doesn’t really want to leave Seahawks

Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll has a different interpretation of linebacker Bruce Irvin’s declaration last week that he would be playing in Atlanta in 2016.

Irvin, an Atlanta native who played for new Falcons coach Dan Quinn in Seattle, was in Atlanta for an NBA playoff game Wednesday night and told BlackSportsOnLine.com, “I’m going to be in Atlanta next season. I’m ready. Atlanta is where I want to be. Believe that.”

Carroll said Irvin was not announcing a move to the Falcons next season.

“I’m really glad you asked me that, because he didn’t say that,” said Carroll, speaking with reporters prior to his induction into the USC Athletics Hall of Fame on Saturday. “We’ve been talking all along. He has been working out in Atlanta for these three weeks, and he said (that) in response to the question ‘Do you want to come back home?’

“He said everybody likes to come back home, and it’s a dream to come back home. It wasn’t in reference to leaving us and coming back (to the Falcons). He was really adamant about it, and I asked him to leave it and not go at it anymore.”

Irvin has been upset that the Seahawks did not pick up his $7.75 million option for 2016 after the draft. He tweeted recently: “Faced way tougher adversity getting outta them streets coming up! That (expletive) is nothing! (Forget) that option!”

The Seahawks have said they want to keep Irvin long-term, but they clearly did not think the 2012 first-round pick was worth the amount dictated by the fifth-year option.

Irvin is set to be paid $1.66 million in the final year of his rookie contract. In three seasons as a hybrid linebacker/pass rusher, he has 93 tackles, 16.5 sacks and three interceptions (two returned for touchdowns in 2014).

Carroll was not surprised with the social media reaction over Irvin’s comments.

“Anybody can put those messages out, and they have a life to them,” Carroll said. “Our guys are getting better at understanding that, and Bruce has learned again from this lesson.”

Meanwhile, Carroll reflected on the success he achieved while USC’s head coach — which included two national titles during his tenure from 2001 to 2009.

Carroll left USC after the 2009 season to become coach of the Seahawks. He has guided the Seahawks to one Super Bowl win and came within seconds of another title.

Asked about the NCAA sanctions handed down during his tenure, Carroll told the Los Angeles Times that “it breaks my heart” that the university and players suffered.

Carroll continues to defend USC and he reiterated that he thought the NCAA overreached in its investigation, which had centered on improper benefits received by Reggie Bush and his family.

“We had so much success and we had so much fun doing it, it was uncommon for people to understand,” Carrol said. “I think it rubbed people the wrong way. There was such a bitterness.”

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