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Originally published Monday, January 11, 2010 at 9:10 PM

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Seahawks choose a new way of doing things

The Seahawks' new organizational structure will have coach Pete Carroll and a general manager to be named working shoulder-to-shoulder.

Seattle Times staff reporter

RENTON — Pete Carroll is coming to Seattle as more than a coach, but not quite the general manager.

He won't be working for that general manager either, though, and that general manager won't be working for him.

Welcome to Seattle's new organizational structure. The days when Mike Holmgren was the Big Show? That's so 1999. There's no more president like Tim Ruskell, either.

CEO Tod Leiweke described the franchise's new structure as a collaborative effort in which Carroll, the coach, and the general manager Seattle intends to hire, will report up to Leiweke, who will serve as an administrator. There is a third component in the power-sharing structure: John Idzik, vice president of football administration. He handles contract negotiations and salary-cap issues.

In the Seahawks' new world order, Leiweke is the air traffic controller.

"My job will be to synthesize that group," Leiweke said. "But everybody is going to sign on to a plan where they're going to work together."

The Seahawks explored the idea of hiring a president to serve as that nexus. They reached out to former Colts coach Tony Dungy three weeks ago to see if he would be interested in being franchise president. John Wooten, chairman of the Fritz Pollard Alliance that monitors hiring practices within the NFL, said he was aware of Seattle's interest, and Dungy turned the Seahawks down, indicating he was happy where he was as a TV analyst and was not ready to return to the NFL.

Seattle subsequently tried to reach an agreement to make Holmgren president, only to have the deal fall through and Holmgren end up in Cleveland. As recently as this weekend, the Seahawks reached out to Dungy again. He still wasn't interested.

That puts Leiweke atop the Seahawks' football pyramid. He came to Seattle seven years ago, a whiz in sports marketing with a sterling reputation of generating consensus within an organization. Holmgren once called Leiweke the best thing ever to happen to the Seahawks organization. Will he now be more involved with day-to-day football operations?

"I came here as a football fan," Leiweke said. "I've learned a lot. So I'm not at all intimidated about helping this group collaborate, but my job is not to sit in judgment of specific issues but overall to synthesize this group and make sure they have the resources they need to be successful."

Carroll will have control over which players make the 53-man roster and, of course, who plays where. He will have a voice in the decisions of the personnel department regarding the draft, trades and signings, but he will not have final say in that regard.

The next order of business is for Seattle to hire a general manager. Carroll will sit in on interviews, which are expected to begin today.


There are at least four candidates, though Leiweke did not rule out the possibility there might be additions to the dance card. Seattle is scheduled to interview Marc Ross (Giants), Omar Khan (Steelers), Floyd Reese (Patriots, formerly of the Titans) and John Schneider (Packers).

"We're going to have collaboration on the draft," Leiweke said. "Our general manager will hear from Pete, and that's a really important thing. And that's really how we wanted to set this up. There's two kinds of tension, good tension and bad tension. We're going to set this up where there's good tension where people are weighing in and we're talking and we're communicating.

"No one person will sit in judgment of sweeping issues."

That lack of a centralized football authority is a departure from the Seahawks' recent history. Holmgren had final say in all football decisions from 1999 until 2002, when he was stripped of general-manager responsibilities. Then came two years in which Bob Whitsitt was in charge of the franchise, with Bob Ferguson serving as general manager. After Whitsitt was fired in 2005, Ruskell was hired as president.

Leiweke characterized it as coach and general manager working shoulder-to-shoulder. The question, of course, is what happens if coach and general manager becomes an eye-to-eye staredown. Does that make Leiweke the referee and ultimate arbiter?

"In a structure like this you could go to all these extremes that they're not going to agree on certain things," Leiweke said, "but actually, you know what I go to, is that it's actually going to force a really good discourse here."

Danny O'Neil: 206-464-2364 or

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