Jim Mora will be in broadcast booth for Seahawks game
Former coach insists it won't be awkward calling a game involving the team that fired him, with Mike Holmgren and Pete Carroll in the same stadium.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Seahawks @ Browns, 10 a.m., Ch. 13
Sunday's assignment puts Jim Mora in a familiar position, but one that hasn't always been the most comfortable.
He stands between Mike Holmgren and Pete Carroll. Again. The difference is he will be in the broadcast booth this time instead of situated between the two in the Seahawks' coaching lineage.
Mora is the analyst assigned by FOX for Seattle's game at Cleveland Sunday, putting the Seahawks' past three coaches in the same building at the same time. That means there's bound to be a little dirty laundry, so plug your nose as we sort through it.
On one side is Holmgren, the coach who saw the Seahawks to their greatest success and is now president of all-things-pigskin in Cleveland. On the other sideline is Carroll, the man who was hired to restore Seattle's luster. Then there is Mora, the coach who got pinched off in Seattle's transition between the two, and before we go stirring Seattle's coaching cobwebs, it's important to note it's a conversation that Mora wants no real part of.
"It's not about me, it's about the game," he said Tuesday in a telephone interview. "That's what I'm focused on."
The NFL is a big-boy business. People get hired, people get fired and there's no place for bruised feelings on an injury report. But as the Seahawks' season resumes against a familiar face in Cleveland, it's worth pausing for just a moment to consider the collateral damage of what happened two seasons ago.
Mora lost more than just a job when the Seahawks fired him in January 2010 to clear the decks for Carroll. This was the team Mora cheered for growing up, and the one he passed up other opportunities to stick with. He turned down an offer from Washington (the NFL version) in 2008 and he didn't pursue the job at Washington (Pac-10 version) in 2009.
After all that, Mora got exactly 16 regular-season games coaching a Seahawks team that was assembled under Tim Ruskell, who wasn't deemed good enough at his job to warrant a contract extension.
Yes, the Seahawks are still paying him the balance of his contract, which had three years remaining, but Mora is in the midst of a second season of coaching limbo as he waits for the right opportunity. He has had interest from NFL teams, and he could consider college opportunities, too, but for now, he spends Sundays calling games and Mondays at the NFL Network.
Sunday will be the first time he calls a game involving Seattle. Will it be awkward?
"No, I don't think so," he said. "I've got a job to do."
He is a broadcaster, hired to provide insight into the game his hometown will be watching Sunday.
It's hard not to feel a tinge of sympathy. Not that Mora has asked for that. Seattle made the decision to let him go in January 2010 after one season as Seahawks coach, and in a phone interview this week, he was very clear that like everyone else, he has moved on.
He's in his second football season as a full-time father. His daughter, Lillia, plays volleyball Wednesdays. His 12-year-old son, Ryder, has football games Saturdays, and he gets the film of those games uploaded so he can watch on the road. The defense has allowed one touchdown so far this season.
He spends a half an hour each night throwing a football with his youngest son, Trey, and then reads to him before he goes to sleep.
These are blessings. Things that a coach doesn't always get to do with his kids during the season, and he has embraced the opportunities. On Tuesday, he chaperoned Trey's class on a visit to the Burke Museum.
He has not literally moved on, though. Not like Ruskell, who resigned as president in December 2009, and is now in Chicago. Not like Holmgren, who's in Cleveland, or former Seahawks CEO Tod Leiweke who's in Tampa, Fla., in charge of the NHL's Lightning.
Mora still lives on the Eastside. This is his home, after all. His father worked here. It's where Mora grew up, where his friends are and where he planted his family in 2007.
It wasn't his decision to leave the Seahawks, so he shouldn't feel any more compelled to leave than he should feel obligated to turn down an assignment involving his former team.
Mora was the coach chosen to succeed Holmgren in a plan that Ruskell rammed in place with a sledgehammer, and Mora was the coach who was jettisoned to make way for Carroll.
He'll find himself in between those two figures again Sunday, only this time he'll be analyzing the game instead of trapped in the middle of it.