Seahawks general manager John Schneider spent more than an hour talking with Pete Schrager of FoxSports.com for a wide-ranging podcast that covers everything from Schneider's childhood as a Packers fan in De Pere, Wisconsin to his time in Seattle, as well as several stops in between.
Check out the whole podcast if you have the time. If not here are some highlights.
Living in De Pere, which is just a six-mile drive from Green Bay, Schneider said, "It was all football growing up… I thought I was going to be a pro football player. I didn't realize that colleges didn't like 5-foot-7, 175-pound halfbacks who can't run."
After shoulder injuries ended his Division-III college career after one season, Schneider wrote a letter to then-Packers GM Ron Wolf looking for a job—Schneider had read an article that said Wolf got his start in the NFL by sending a letter to Raiders owner Al Davis. After a few more letters didn't work, Schneider decided to call Wolf and leave a message at his office, and was surprised when Wolf answered the phone on the Sunday of Memorial Day Weekend.
That phone call led to an internship where Schneider worked under Ted Thompson, then the Packers' director of pro personnel and their current general manager.
Still in college, Schneider was "in the office with Coach Holmgren and the coaching staff, working with the trainers. Looking back on it, that's where the football operations part comes in… I was exposed to a lot."
From there, Schneider left to become the director of pro personnel in Kansas City. Chicago was also interested, but as Schneider recalled, "Ron was like, 'Well, you're not going to Chicago.'"
Schneider spent one season in Seattle as the director of player personnel in 2000, then at 30, he was named the vice president of player personnel in Washington.
"That year felt like five years packed into one," he said. "We went in there, we had to put a whole new computer system in, scouting system… We hired a really good group of scouts. It was a really fun atmosphere, we created a different culture."
That Washington team went 8-8 after an 0-5 start, but that wasn't enough to keep ownership from cleaning house, marking the first time in his NFL career Schneider was fired.
"It was a driver," he said. "Pete (Carroll) and I talk about it all the time, you have to have a reset…. It was a great thing for me. I learned a lot. You kind of think you have all the answers at a certain point. It was really a humbling but great experience."
One of the more interesting parts of Schneider's second stint in Green Bay surrounded Brett Favre as well as the 2005 draft that saw Green Bay draft Favre's eventual replacement, Aaron Rodgers.
By then, Schneider had become good friends with Scot McCloughan, with whom he had worked in Green Bay and Seattle—and who would later work under Schneider in Seattle from 2010-2013. While evaluating 2005 draft prospects, the two friends would debate the top two quarterbacks in that draft, with McCloughan leaning towards Alex Smith and Schneider preferring Rodgers. Then, leading up to the 2005 draft, the 49ers, who owned the No. 1 pick, hired McCloughan away from Seattle, meaning Schneider had unique insight into which quarterback was likely to go No. 1. Realizing that Smith would likely go first in the draft, and that Rodgers could slide if he got past a certain point in the first round, Schneider and Thompson starting doing more homework on Rodgers as the draft approached. That extra work paid off on draft day.
"Once they took Alex and (Rodgers) started falling, that's when I was on the horn with Scot and (then 49ers offensive coordinator) Mike McCarthy, because they had spent so much time with him," Schneider said.
But while the Rodgers pick turned out to be a homerun for the Packers, it did create what Schneider called "such an odd time" with Favre still in Green Bay for three more seasons. Schneider eventually helped negotiate the trade that sent Favre to the New York Jets, opening the door for Rodgers to become one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL.
One interesting note on all of that—Schneider mentioned that the Packers had been eying J.P Losman a year earlier as an eventual Favre replacement, but Losman went No. 22 to the Bills that year, three picks before Green Bay's first-round pick. So if not for the Bills drafting Losman in 2004, Rodgers could have ended up on another team in 2005.
The work Thompson, Schneider and company did in building the Packers into a winning franchise helped Schneider land an interview for the Seahawks GM job in 2010.
"We hit it off in the interview," Schneider said of his first interview with Pete Carroll and then Seahawks CEO Tod Leiweke. "Pete wanted to have a huge part in who the general manager was going to be, because when he was with the Jets and the Patriots, he didn't feel like he had a real strong input into personnel. We had both been fired, and you kind of have to have a reset and question who you are at your core and what your values are and what's going to make you successful. We shared that in common. Now, I didn't have the resources he did—he went and sat with Coach John Wooden… It was a great interview, there was a lot of energy."
By the time Schneider got back to Green Bay, the Seahawks already called to bring him back for a second interview.
"I went home, saw the kids, took my wife to dinner, jumped back on the plane and flew back out," Schneider said.
After being named general manager, Schneider went to work with Carroll: "We just came in here and got together… Pete made a statement, 'I want this to be the best head coach-general manager marriage in NFL history. Let's get after it man.'"
With Carroll's wife, Glena, back in Los Angeles and with Traci Schneider back in Green Bay with their kids, Seattle's new head coach and GM "probably spent four months straight together, watching film every night and getting to know each other," Schneider said.
The interview covers plenty of Schneider's time in Seattle, from the wildly successful 2012 draft to the 2010 acquisition of Marshawn Lynch. Schneider also echoed what Carroll and players have said about the feeling around the team this offseason: "The vibe here is awesome. It's still a very young football team, it's a very confident team, but it's a hungry team too. It has that feeling of post-Atlanta several years ago when we lost to the Falcons (in the 2012 playoffs). There's a lot of good juice in this building right now."
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