I shouldn't spend time on this, but, I don't know, it seems necessary.
Mike Sando wrote a brief opinion piece in which he casts the Seahawks front office as dysfunctional. What bothers me is not so much the conclusion as the process used to make the conclusion. It's full of holes. It retroactively dismisses Mike Holmgren's failure as general manager of the Seattle Seahawks. That's surprising, because Sando more or less wrote the book about Holmgren's failure as a GM.
For his first few years in Seattle, Mike Holmgren would often talk about how great it was to be the Seahawks' coach, general manager and executive vice president.
He wanted everyone to know one man was in charge -- him. Unlike other situations, Holmgren didn't have to worry about "getting phone calls in the middle of the night" from ownership or anyone else. This was his show to run and no one could tell him how to do it.
This is a classic setup: One man versus a faceless organization.
The tune changed once the Seahawks forced Holmgren to resign as GM following the 2002 season. We eventually learned to view then-president Bob Whitsitt as a meddler who had stood in the way as Holmgren tried to do what was best for the team.
Holmgren's failures as GM weren't necessarily Holmgren's fault, in other words. Whitsitt was to blame.
The "We" in question is not defined. Does he mean Seahawks fans? The Seahawks press corps? I don't know.
Whitsitt is a pretty easy fall guy. He birthed the "Jail Blazers". He earned the name "Trader Bob", which has the paronomasic quality of sounding like "Traitor Bob". While Whitsitt is an easy and perhaps deserving fall guy, it's unclear how he was "a meddler who had stood in the way as Holmgren tried to do what was best for the team" or how Whitsitt owns responsibility for Holmgren's failure as a general manager.
Paul Allen hired Whitsitt in 1997. He was the President of Allen's Football Northwest operation and handled the construction of Qwest Field and the hiring of Mike Holmgren. His football duties were pretty limited before Holmgren stepped down. He played a part in Seattle moving up and selecting Walter Jones in 1997 draft, but chiefly as an intermediary.
Whitsitt's football responsibilities grew after he resigned as Blazers general manager and Holmgren resigned as Seahawks general manager. I am not attempting to sing the praises of Whitsitt, but more searching for proof that Whitsitt meddled and is therefore somehow responsible for Holmgren's failure. I don't see it. The burden of proof is on the accuser, of course, but I'm really attempting to give Sando the benefit of the doubt. I want to know: What specifically did Whitsitt do that undermined Holmgren?
Seattle's drafting improved under Whitsitt. It drafted Marcus Trufant, Ken Hamlin, Seneca Wallace and Josh Brown in 2003, and Marcus Tubbs, Sean Locklear, Niko Koutouvides, Craig Terrill and Donnie Jones in 2004. Trufant, Hamlin, Brown and Jones have made the Pro Bowl. Tubbs, Locklear and Terrill were prominent players in Seattle's 2005 Super Bowl run. Again, I'm not endorsing Whitsitt, just looking for some kind of evidence that he was at fault for Holmgren failing as a GM.
I can't find any.
"To be quite honest," CEO Tod Leiweke told reporters Monday, "there was not a harmonious relationship between Tim and Mike Holmgren. It's probably neither guy's fault, but we learned a lot there.
The fact that Leiweke either did not know this or could not fix this reflects poorly on him and owner Paul Allen.
No, it doesn't. First, everyone knew that Tim Ruskell and Mike Holmgren did not get along. Proposing otherwise is insulting. It's insulting to the hard core fans that read Sando's blog and it's insulting to Leiweke. Holmgren fought with Randy Mueller, Whitsitt and Ruskell. He was used to having his way with Green Bay Packers General Manager Ron Wolf. Wolf said so himself.
Wolf, in turn, said that Holmgren ''probably wins more than he should'' when they disagree on personnel matters.
Wolf wanted to hire Bill Parcells, which is to say, he knows how to weather "big egos" as Holmgren described himself. If one is looking for the epicenter of turmoil within the Seahawks organization, the Big Show deserves at least a look. Casting Holmgren as a victim seems at best on shaky footing, and at worst a complete snow job.
What exactly was Leiweke to do? Seattle had tried giving Holmgren ultimate power, and that failed. It had tried to match him with a caretaker general manager, and that failed too. Finally, it matched him with a powerful executive and instantly succeeded. That sounds like about as comprehensive and measured approach as an organization can take.
And this is where Sando's piece strays from being incomplete and inaccurate to being accusatory and preposterous.
The pattern is clear. People at nearly every level of Seahawks management will tell you whatever suits them at the time. The team's efforts to cast itself as a model franchise appear fraudulent.
This organization has very little credibility.
The word "dysfunction" seems inadequate.
Wait, what? I'm pretty good at picking out patterns, but this one escapes me. Is there any evidence to support the assertion that "People at nearly every level of Seahawks management will tell you whatever suits them at the time"? Because that's a weighty accusation. Strip it down, and Sando is saying the Seahawks organization is filled with liars. People who will tell you "whatever suits them at the time."
If that's Mike Sando's claim, and he is interested in retaining his own credibility, he must present a much better supported case than he did. Otherwise, this is pure mud slinging. It's ugly, empty, and to steal a phrase, reflects poorly on Sando and ESPN. Very poorly.