America saw him floating on Cloud 9, woo-hooing along with his 12th Man and his Seahawks as if he was 12-year-old boy rather than a 62-year-old football Peter Pan, skipping giddily towards MetLife Stadium and Super Bowl XLVIII.

As he met the media back in Seattle Monday, Pete Carroll still hadn’t come down to earth, and who could blame him? He had vanquished his old rival Jim Harbaugh and the 49ers to win the NFC Championship and validated a most unorthodox coaching style that favors individuality and freedom of expression over tough love.

It took Pete Carroll 20 years to get to this delicious moment, one even he couldn’t possibly have imagined when Jets owner Leon Hess fired him after a 6-10 season in 1994, his first and only season as Jets head coach, and turned his world upside down.

“That was kind of a hairy time,” Carroll recalled Monday.

Was it ever.

The news the Jets had fired the 43-year-old Carroll was broken by WFAN, the club’s flagship station at the time, on the morning of Jan. 5, 1995.

“I actually remember the day it happened,” said Boomer Esiason, now an FAN morning man and CBS analyst, then the Jets’ lefty starting quarterback.

“I walked in [to Weeb Ewbank Hall at Hofstra] to pick up the end-of-the-season check that you would pick up, and I remember I was going to go in and have a meeting with him.