I don’t have to look far to find my commitment-phobic side. It looms large in my immediate past.
I talked for years, literally, about moving back to my home state of Washington. When the time came to step up and do it, I procrastinated for nine months before I even listed my house for sale. Yeah, I know how difficult it can be to make a decision that will affect things for years to come.
So when the Seahawks took so long to find and hire a new team president, it was easy to accuse the hiring group of that same kind of indecision and fear of commitment. Now that the job is done, some things have come to light.
Many people criticized the group selected to do the search and hire process. At first, the criticism seemed justified. After all, Paul Allen had hired non-football people to hire a football executive. Having invested so much time into the non-football person of Bob Whitsett, there was a real fear that the Seahawks would end up once again with someone running the show who had no business being there.
But a funny thing happened on the way to filling that job. It appears that the search committee was doing more than just interviewing candidates. Apparently, they were spending time learning how various teams around the league ran their operations. Instead of just researching people to fill a job, they were learning different ways to do the job in question, and then went looking for a person who would do that job in a way they could live with
Suddenly, they weren’t hiring just a man. They were bringing in a philosophy.
Right now, we’re in the honeymoon, of course. Everybody is gushing and bubbly about getting the “best man for the job.” In truth, only time will tell just how effective this hiring is.
Tim Ruskell has hit the ground running. After a quick press conference here in Seattle, he’s off to the combine to oversee and join in the scouting of college talent for April’s draft. His only handicap in that process is his lack of familiarity with the Seattle Seahawks coaching staff. He will have to be brought up to speed on the types of players desired. He does bring with him all the knowledge and personal assessments he has done on these college kids to date. While the Falcons probably didn’t let him out of their building carrying file cabinets full of documentation, they couldn’t have erased his memory before he left.
Meanwhile, Mike Reinfeldt emerged from a phone booth somewhere with a giant red S on his chest and does the seemingly impossible. Pulled off the shelf two weeks ago to jump start the stalled efforts to retain some, any, of the free agents threatening to jump ship this season, he did the impossible task of inking Walter Jones to a multi-year deal.
He backed that up with a deal with Matt Hasselbeck.
Both deals seem to compensate the players fairly without straining the salary cap to the breaking point. Plus, those two deals allowed the team to use the franchise tag on the player that commands the lowest dollar amount in franchise tender, Shaun Alexander.
It has been a magical time in Seahawks memory.
It seems impossible that there would be no room for this man in the Seahawks front office for the long term future. His being basically forced out last year represents the epitome of the disrespect that Bob Whitsett had for the Seattle Seahawks franchise. Can the team show a commitment to this man, who has probably done more for the team’s fiscal stability over the past 6 years than any other?
One can only hope.
But time does not stand still. Free agency looms days, not weeks away. The Seahawks still stand to pay for front office inactivity last year. Key players are poised to shop their talents on the open market. Some, like Ken Lucas and Chike Okeafor are likely to receive warm receptions around the league.
These players, in many ways, are probably curious just how committed the team is to them. They are wondering whether their talents are wanted here, and how badly. The seeds of doubt have been sown in their minds by the Whitsett regime, which seemed poised to mortgage the future of the team for petty personal power struggles.
While the current regime tries to mend fences and re-establish lines of communications, the clock keeps ticking. Players face the real prospect of committing to a team that has no future plans for them and losing chances to play for more money and/or respect elsewhere.
Meanwhile, the team must set priorities at the risk that some players will feel slighted if they are not high enough on that list.
Delicate decisions abound.
Now that Shaun Alexander has been slapped with the franchise tag, is it more important to get him a long term contract before March 15th, or to get Ken Lucas signed to a deal before March 2nd?
Just how much do they invest in tender offers for the restricted free agents? Any dollars invested here will reduce funds for other contracts.
It is a delicate balancing act that Mike Reinfeldt seemingly had under control up until two years ago. Who could the team trust more to bring it back under control?
This is the time of year when decisions are made that will affect the team through the entire season, and into the distant future. Some great decisions have been made so far. Commitments have been established. While there is still much to be done, there really does seem to be a plan in place and people committed to working it.
The past couple of weeks have been exciting for Seahawks fans. It is likely that there are some disappointments coming. A player or two that we really want to keep around might sign elsewhere. A gem we want in the draft might be snatched away before we have a chance to take him. As fans, we are asked to maintain our enthusiasm and sense of commitment to the team through difficult times as well as good times.
As for my commitment to moving home? This past week, I bought a truck. I’m now driving around in a vehicle with Washington plates on it. As difficult as it has been to overcome my procrastinating side, I am committed to this move.
This fan is here for the duration.
Steve Utz writes a column for Seahawks.NET every Sunday. Send your feedback to Steve at firstname.lastname@example.org.