John Schneider recalled a somewhat uneasy feeling when he was introduced as general manager of the Seattle Seahawks.
"I remember the first day, I was just sick to my stomach," Schneider joked to a group of reporters gathered at Renton's Virginia Mason Athletic Center on Friday, his first media availability since before the 2014 season. "Like, what did I get myself into? I was worried."
Schneider was named Seattle's GM five years ago this week, on Jan. 19, 2010 - eight days after the Seahawks had dubbed Pete Carroll the team's executive vice president of football operations and head coach. Schneider took time to reflect on his initial day in the Pacific Northwest.
"No, I talked to [former Seahawks CEO] Tod Leiweke that day," Schneider continued. "Because I was really excited about the opportunity. Then, working with Pete you kind of go through this meeting, doing all the media stuff and everything, and you sit down and you go to work."
One of Schneider's first tasks in his early days as GM was to work alongside Carroll in adjusting the Seahawks' salary situation.
"We had to cut like $52 million in salary," said Schneider. "That's a lot."
Outside of that tall order, Schneider said part of what made the new gig overwhelming at first was knowing he had to be away from his family for an extended period of time. His wife, Traci, and two sons, Ben and Jack, were months away from joining him in Seattle. Schneider said his new relationship with coach Carroll helped ease the transition.
"Being able to get with Pete and spend as much time with him as we did together, it was just natural after that," said Schneider. "We just hit it off and were able to just really learn each other and learn each other's philosophies and how to communicate with each other, that whole respect level that comes into it."
At the time, Carroll was coming off nine years of unprecedented success at the University of Southern California, where he won seven consecutive Pac-10 titles (2002-08), two national championships (2003-04), and led the Trojans to a 97-19 record. Schneider said the best part about his new setup was learning how down to earth his new co-worker was.
"His ego level was just so not what you would think for a man that had that type of success," Schneider said of Carroll. "He was very easy just to communicate with and talk to and share our philosophies, share our vision."
Together, Schneider and Carroll made more than 800 roster transactions through the end of the 2013 season. They pieced together the roster that won Super Bowl XLVIII last year - the youngest roster ever to win the NFL's biggest game. And after this past Sunday's NFC Championship win over the Green Bay Packers, the Seahawks are the first team since the 2003-04 New England Patriots to go to back-to-back Super Bowls, with Seattle set to line up against New England in Super Bowl XLIX on Sunday, Feb. 1 in Glendale, Ariz.
But Schneider said he hasn't been one to step back and reflect on the success his club has enjoyed through the five seasons with him and Carroll at the helm.
"We don't necessarily view it that way because we're so focused and consumed about getting better in every area on a daily basis that it's just built like that over the years," said Schneider. "I know you guys have heard me talk about being a consistent championship caliber team and with that comes really tough decisions like every day. It's obviously what you strive for, but everybody just kind of knows that, you don't really talk about it.
"Of course everyone wants to be a world champion. You want to go to Super Bowls. But the manner in which we did it was a blast, the whole group, because of the culture that we're in - it's just all about improving every single day."
And when Schneider says Seattle is committed to improvement in "every area," he means it. The Seahawks GM went out of his way to acknowledge the ongoing commitment to excellence displayed by the team's video department, equipment staff, and from top to bottom throughout the entire organization.
"It's just an exciting thing to see the whole building come together," he said.