Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Seahawks introduce Schneider as general manager
RENTON, Wash. -- John Schneider was a college kid returning from a camping trip on Memorial Day weekend in 1992 when he decided to finally call the Green Bay office of Ron Wolf.
Schneider had already sent a series of letters to the Packers GM looking for an internship, after a shoulder injury cut short his playing career at Division III St. Thomas, Minn.
See, Schneider knew Wolf had interned with Al Davis and the Oakland Raiders decades earlier to jump start his NFL career.
"I basically stalked Ron Wolf," Schneider said, chuckling Wednesday moments after Green Bay's director of football operations signed a four-year contract and was introduced as the new general manager of the Seattle Seahawks.
The precocious kid who grew up in De Pere, Wis., a self-described rural "cheesehead" cherishing his football card collection thought he was leaving a voice mail on that quiet, offseason holiday weekend 18 years ago.
But Wolf, then in his second year remaking the Packers, was in the office watching film. After getting over the shock of talking to Wolf, Schneider got the GM to grant him an interview.
"I started by doing the same thing he did, writing letters to a lot of people trying to get any job I could," Wolf said in a telephone interview from his home in South Florida, where he is enjoying retirement. "So I always responded to people like John."
That's how the Seahawks' new general manager entered the NFL, as a 21-year-old intern writing short assessments of young Packers.
"Reggie White is a very good football player," Schneider said he wrote in one, particularly astute entry on pass rusher who became a Hall of Famer.
Schneider has been a personnel executive in the league ever since.
He replaces Tim Ruskell. The Seahawks forced Ruskell to resign as GM and president last month as Seattle was finishing 5-11 and losing its last four games by a combined 123-37.
"First and foremost, I want to thank Ron Wolf. He took a chance on a guy who was a junior in college," the boyish-faced, 38-year-old Schneider said. "I'll forever will be indebted to Ron."
"I was really blessed. Then I worked my butt off."
His work is just starting. Seattle is 9-23 since its last playoff game in January 2008.
Schneider was already a candidate for the Seahawks' GM job when the team bolted from the NFL norm last week and hired Pete Carroll to be its powerful head coach.
The new coach is driving the GM and the rest of the organizational train, rather than vice versa. It's part of Seattle reinventing itself after its worst two-year stretch since 1992-93.
It's also opposite of how the 17-year veteran of personnel moves was used to operations working.
Yet Schneider considered the fact Carroll, who is also Seattle's executive vice president, would have equal or more authority than the general manager on personnel issues -- and he just shrugged. He signed on anyway.
"When this thing went down with Coach Carroll I had a moment where I thought, 'OK, that was different.' But that's how they had to do it to get a guy of his caliber," said Schneider, who beat out former Titans GM Floyd Reese and three other candidates.
"Then I thought, 'This job is even more attractive right now."
Seahawks CEO Tod Leiweke said the immediate, "amazing energy" between the former USC head man and Schneider in last week's interview clinched the final decision. The fact Schneider helped reshape the Packers into the league's youngest team in recent years while they remained a playoff team helped, too.
The Seahawks will be built around Carroll's philosophy. And Schneider agrees with that approach, Leiweke said.
"If someday there is a dispute between these two guys and there's a coin toss, we are going to build the team around this man and his players," Leiweke said, nodding to Carroll. "Pete wins the coin toss."
Leiweke also clarified that salary cap and contract issues, handled by returning administrator John Idzik, will be under Schneider's control.
"We wanted to create a team approach where we're unified in our goals," the Seahawks' CEO said. "It was a heartbreaking couple of years ... people here deserve better."
Schneider has been with Green Bay for 12 of his 17 NFL seasons. He spent 2000 as director of player personnel inside the Seahawks regime of former Packers leaders Ted Thompson and Mike Holmgren. He was the vice president of player personnel for the Redskins for one year, 2001, before returning to Green Bay.