Long before leading the Seattle Seahawks to the Super Bowl in back-to-back seasons, Eagle Scout and Seahawks president Peter McLoughlin had his sights on a much simpler goal: calling his mom.
It was the early 1970s, and McLoughlin was a 14-year-old Life Scout in Troop 50 out of Princeton, N.J.
McLoughlin liked to ride his bike from his house into town so he could walk around the university campus, visit the candy store, and hang out with friends at the five and dime.
“But my mom was very strict about when I had to be home,” he says, “and if I was going to be late, whether it was a weeknight or a weekend, I had to call and let her know that I was on my way and running late.”
But in the pre-cellphone era, calling home was no easy task. Princeton had “virtually no payphones,” he says. So for his Eagle Scout service project, McLoughlin put together a plan detailing exact locations for payphones across Princeton. He researched the subject extensively, submitted the plan, defended the plan to local leaders and watched as Princeton installed the phones.
Not bad for a kid who wasn’t even old enough to drive. McLoughlin says Scouting taught him the problem-solving skills needed to finish his Eagle project, and he uses those same skills today as president of the NFL’s hottest franchise.
McLoughlin’s Seahawks team will try for its second Super Bowl championship in as many years this Sunday against the New England Patriots.
Last August, with the Seahawks gearing up to defend their Super Bowl championship, I spoke with McLoughlin by phone from his office in Seattle. That’s the same office, by the way, where he proudly displays his Distinguished Eagle Scout plaque on the wall.
McLoughlin, who’s in his fifth season with the Seahawks, is in charge of all financial and business operations, sales and marketing, sponsorship, and administration.
In other words, he works his magic behind the scenes. His name won’t appear on the back of any replica jerseys. Unlike the team’s coach or star quarterback, he’s not surrounded by cameras after each Seahawks win.
But McLoughlin’s fine with his role. The business of football, just like Scouting, takes a team effort.
“I think to be successful in business, you have to get along with people, you have to have a sense of teamwork, you have to realize you can’t do it alone,” McLoughlin says. “You have to have your teammates alongside you in order to be able to achieve the greater goal. But you have to set the goal. You have to be clear about the goal. And you’ve got to stick to it until it’s accomplished.”
Two clear goals McLoughlin has accomplished already: Winning the Super Bowl and earning the Eagle Scout award.
As for the latter goal, McLoughlin didn’t hesitate to tell me the Boy Scout ranks from memory — “Tenderfoot to Second Class to First Class to Star, Life and Eagle. It’s all about goal-setting and then figuring out what steps you have to go through to achieve the next goal.”
He remembers that Troop 50 kept a list of merit badge counselors for dozens of merit badges. But neither his Scoutmaster nor his parents set up the appointments to meet with those counselors. He had to do that himself.
Sure, McLoughlin’s mom drove him to meetings, but everything else was left to him. As it should be.
“That took planning and organization,” he says. “My parents didn’t do it for me.”
Under McLoughlin’s leadership, the Seahawks’ CenturyLink Field has become one of the NFL’s greenest stadiums.
That means 3,700 solar panels, low-water-use toilets and urinals, low-electricity lighting, and a system to recycle or compost 80 percent of the waste collected during games.
Seattle’s reputation as a green city necessitates some of those Earth-friendly changes, but McLoughlin gives Scouting some of the credit, too.
“When you camp as a Scout, you’re taught to clean up your trash, clean up your campsite, don’t leave anything behind, make sure the fire that you cooked on and warmed yourself with is fully out,” he says. “Taking care of the environment you’re living in or camping in is really important.”
The future of Scouting
McLoughlin serves as an executive board member of the BSA’s Chief Seattle Council, so he has a personal stake in the program’s continued success.
What does he see as the outlook for Scouting’s future?
“I’m an optimist by nature, and I think Scouting has a good, strong future,” he says. “I think joining an organization with the kinds of standards and morals and ethics that Scouting represents is a healthy learning process for young people to go through.
“That’s why people participate in it and join a troop, and that’s why Scouting will continue to endure. The lessons learned are timeless and invaluable, and the Boy Scouts of America have proven, through the test of time, that they teach valuable lessons.”
Photo: McLoughlin gets his Distinguished Eagle Scout award
Here’s Toby Capps presenting McLoughlin with the Distinguished Eagle Scout award last year in McLoughlin’s office at the Seahawks headquarters in Renton, Wash.
More from McLoughlin
Look for more from my interview with this famous Eagle Scout in a future issue of Eagles’ Call magazine. And good luck to McLoughlin’s Seahawks on Sunday!