Between Sunday and Monday, Pro Football Weekly’s article-bot churned out byline-free reports that Ruskell has already been informed that his contract won’t be renewed, and that Mike Holmgren could return to the franchise as a head of football operations position.
The latter report indicates Holmgren could either retain head coach Jim Mora, or replace him with his former Green Bay protégé Jon Gruden. It also read that Holmgren could retain current Vice President of Player Personnel Ruston Webster as the team’s general manager, “given how well Webster previously worked together with Holmgren”, which is an odd statement considering Webster was a long-time associate of Ruskell’s who didn’t join the Seahawks organization until 2006.
Seattle Times columnist Steve Kelley continues to bang the drum for Holmgren to replace Ruskell:
“I believe hiring him is a no-brainer,” Kelley wrote in the November 30, 2009 edition of the Seattle Times. “The Hawks don't need to turn the search for Ruskell's replacement into some national American Idol-type audition. They should cut to the chase and give it to a future Hall of Famer, who knows the game like a geologist knows rocks.”
A problem with Kelley’s approach is that NFL teams are required, by the league’s Rooney Rule, to interview minority candidates for vacant senior-level football operation positions, including general manager.
However, if Holmgren is absolutely, positively the only person capable of running the Seattle Seahawks (and I’m not convinced that he is) there does exist a way for Kelley and the alleged “majority of Seahawks fans” to get their wish of a Holmgren-led football operation in Seattle. Not only that, but it would also give Jim Mora the job security he deserves, semi-confirms PFW’s reporting of a promotion from within the organization, and would be fully compliant with the Rooney Rule.
And that would be the promotion of Will Lewis to general manager.
Lewis has been the Seahawks’ Director of Pro Personnel since 1999, when Holmgren hired him away from the Green Bay Packers, where Lewis had been the Packers’ Assistant Director of Pro Personnel from 1997-99, which included Holmgren’s final two seasons as the Packers' head coach.
An undrafted free agent cornerback from Millersville (Pa.) State (Go Marauders!) Lewis spent two seasons with the Seahawks (1980-81), three seasons with the Houston Gamblers of USFL (1983-85), and wrapped up his playing career in the Canadian Football League. Lewis then embarked on a coaching career that began at Millersville State, and included stints at the University of Maine and University of West Virginia, before landing an NFL job as a defensive assistant with the Atlanta Falcons in 1995, where he spent two seasons before joining the Packers’ front office in 1997.
The majority of Lewis’ experience in the NFL has come as an eleven-year member of the Seahawks’ front office, so few candidates, internally or externally, would be as familiar with the strengths and weaknesses of the current Seahawks roster as he is.
Lewis survived the Ruskell hiring in 2005, as well as the departure earlier this year of the man who brought him to Seattle, which may speak to how well-liked and well-respected he is within the VMAC, where his younger brother Tim also works as the defensive backs coach on Jim Mora’s coaching staff.
The NFL’s expansion of the Rooney Rule means it’s only a matter of time before other NFL teams seek to interview Lewis, an experienced NFL personnel executive with playing, coaching, and scouting experience who also happens to be African-American, and it won't be a shock were he to land one of those jobs.
Which is why the Seahawks, should they decide to make a GM change, should not only interview Lewis, but they should seriously consider hiring him for the job.
With or without Mike Holmgren.
In addition to writing for NorthwestFootball.net, Brian McIntyre blogs daily at Mac's Football Blog. You can follow Brian on Twitter, and if you’d like to e-mail him, you can always do so by clicking here.