As Seahawks players packed up what they could salvage from an unfulfilling season, forces within the franchise were at work trying to sort through candidates to fill the large, empty office on the third floor of the headquarters.
Although the new general manager/president/honcho – whatever will be the title and function – will play an important role in the career path of the players cleaning out their lockers, few had any definitive thoughts on what the franchise should look for in a new leader.
In fact, they really weren’t sure what that person does.
“It’s a tough topic for players,” said defensive tackle Craig Terrill when asked about the qualities he thought would be important in a new top person in the front office. “I really have no clue what goes on up there.
“It’s so weird; it’s such a big part of the organization and the business of football, but as a player, you just try to be a player. If you try to think too much about the stuff that goes on up there, it could be nerve-racking. We all know we’re being evaluated by the front office and that’s the reality of the game.”
Some players remain intentionally oblivious.
Placekicker Olindo Mare was peeling family pictures off his cubicle and packing workout gear in a box after having completed his 14th NFL season. He’s been with four teams, so he might have insight into the best qualities of a good general manager, right?
“I have no idea,” he said. “I try not to bother with anybody too high up and just keep quiet. That’s how I’ve made it this far.”
Ah, the key to corporate success and NFL placekicking.
What’s the point of getting too involved? Mare said that the new hire will be the boss and players won’t have control over his actions other than by how they play the game. If you win, it’s usually a good environment.
“And if you’re not winning, we all know what happens,” Mare said. “You know that change is coming.”
Change at the top started Dec. 2, when Tim Ruskell was forced out of his post as president and general manager late in his fifth season.
Running back Julius Jones was brought in as a free agent by Ruskell, and he, for one, will be watching developments.
“It’s out of our hands, of course, whoever he or she might be,” he said. “But it’s our future and we should be paying close attention to it; I know I do.”
Jones mentioned the word “trust” as an important part of the GM/player relationship.
“(You want) somebody that everybody can trust, who will look out for you,” Jones said. “Winning is about everybody coming together from the top to the bottom. If you have a guy at the top that you can trust to have your back, then (players) will go out and bust their tails for him.”
Receiver Nate Burleson hoped the Seahawks could find a leader as passionate about the game as the players, and equally passionate about getting the franchise back to the elite level.
“The relationship with the players only goes so far,” Burleson said. “At the end of the day, we’re the ones who have to put on the jersey and go win games. Whoever they bring in, we’ll be excited about it, but we’re still going to have to go out and play football.”
Like the other players queried on the subject, quarterback Matt Hasselbeck started by saying that “there’s a lot of layers in between the locker room and the big corner office with the view.”
But he also acknowledged the importance of the players’ connection to the front office.
“Just the thing I would say, when everyone feels like they’re in it together and there’s a trust factor there, it’s just a way better working environment,” Hasselbeck said. “The us-versus-them mentality that can sometimes exist in an NFL building isn’t a great feeling. But when you feel like, ‘Hey, we’re all in this together,’ that’s a good thing.”
On Monday morning, a day after the season ended with a 5-11 record, it all seemed like a secondary concern.
“Really,” Hasselbeck said. “What I’m looking forward to right now is getting away, getting healthy and getting strong.”
Dave Boling: 253-597-8440