Star power helped Eagles to woo Weaver from Seahawks
Now that the NFL free-agency whirlwind for fullback Leonard Weaver has landed him in Philadelphia, the former Seattle Seahawk finally spoke to the Seattle-area media Tuesday.
Weaver took the opportunity to thank the Seahawks fans who supported him during his four-year stay with the team.
“I want to let the fans know that I have appreciated them so much,” said the popular Weaver, nicknamed “The Church Van” for his habit of singing church hymns on the practice field. “And I don’t think they could begin to understand how they’ve allowed me to come in and accepted me as player and a person in the community.”
Weaver also didn’t mince words when talking about his three-week wait in free agency, which finally produced a one-year, $1.75 million deal with Philadelphia on Friday. Weaver said he also had interest from Seattle, Minnesota, Tampa Bay and Houston, but ultimately chose the Eagles because they offered the best opportunity to showcase his diverse skills, along with giving him the chance to play with such stars as running back Brian Westbrook and quarterback Donovan McNabb.
Weaver and his agent, Harold Lewis, marketed the fullback out of Carson-Newman College as a hybrid who could play running back and fullback.
Weaver said he thought the Seahawks didn’t offer him what he was worth nor show an interest in keeping him because no one from the organization contacted him during the offseason to talk about what his role might be for 2009.
“I felt like if they wanted me to come back to the organization, they would have put me in contact with someone involved in the offense, or somebody who’s looking and saying, ‘Hey, we maybe would want to use this guy in this offense,’ ” Weaver said. “But nobody did, so I kind of felt like, ‘Okay, at least I know where I stand in terms of what direction they want to go.’ ”
Weaver also said Jim Mora Jr.’s looming takeover as the team’s head coach may have played a role in the team’s 4-12 season.
During an introductory interview in Philadelphia, Weaver talked about a division in the locker room between Mike Holmgren guys and Mora followers.
“I think it affected us as a team a lot,” Weaver said. “Some players, I think in some sense, it kind of got divided. The team divided a little bit. Some guys were for Mike, some guys were for Jim. And, you know, I think when you make a move like that, that’s not the best move for a team. However, it was what it was.”
Seahawks running back T.J. Duckett, signed by Seattle team president Tim Ruskell last offseason and who played for Mora while in Atlanta, addressed Weaver’s statement in an interview with Seattle-area radio station KJR-AM on Monday.
“I never felt the focus was on who was going to be the coach next year,” Duckett said. “It was all on our opponent and what we had to do to win the next game.”
Weaver clarified his initial comments on Tuesday.
“I’m not a mind reader,” he said. “Everybody’s agenda is different, but I think it may have had something to do with it for some players because with the new regime coming in and you knowing it’s going to happen, it kind of puts you in a position as a player like, ‘Man, I don’t know if I’m even going to be here next year. I don’t know if this guy wants me as a part of his team.’
“We’re all great players, and we all know that. But at the same time, we didn’t know what (Mora’s) direction and what his plan was. … So it was a little tough, I think, and it could have caused some distractions for some players.”
Weaver believes second-year fullback Owen Schmitt will serve the Seahawks well.
“He knows what he needs to work on personally, and I think he’s going to do great job filling in,” Weaver said. “He’s going to surprise a lot of people.”
Eric D. Williams: 253-597-8437