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Tod Leiweke: “I think perhaps I do owe Jim Mora an apology”

Post by Ryan Divish on Jan. 12, 2010 at 2:04 pm with 19 Comments »
January 12, 2010 2:34 pm
Getty Images
Getty Images

Tod Leiweke wore a perma-grin throughout Tuesday’s press conference. Whether it was smiling broadly and shaking his head in affirmation to some of his newly hired coach, Pete Carroll, and his enthusiastic statements. Or whether it was shaking hand with the handful of players assembled to watch the press conference.

However, he lost the grin for a while when talking to reporters after the press conference about this past season, the decision to hire a new coach and to fire Jim Mora and past dysfunction between the front office and former head coach Mike Holmgren. He was contrite in the handling of the Mora  situation, but not sorry about the result.  And of course, being a business man, he broke out the whole glossary of business building terms like model, snyergy, connectivity, collaboration, structure and of course shoulder-to-shoulder.

“What has happened the last two years has broken our collective hearts,” he said. “We didn’t build this grand facility to win nine games in two years. We didn’t fill the stadium and our fans didn’t scream their lungs out to win nine games in two years. We HAD to do something. Perhaps there are things we can be criticized for, but at the end of the day, we’re committed to get this right.

He was relatively candid about the situation (well as candid as a CEO can be), even admitting there was a feeling of a hopelessness with the organization at the end of the season.

“I will tell you as the season ended, I felt something I hadn’t felt since I’ve been here, which was a lack of hope,” Leiweke said. “Paul Allen, especially with what he’s gone through this year, deserves, as do our fans.”

“That feeling of a lack of hope was a great motivator. Your adversity can become your opportunity. When I talked to Pete Carroll, I found great hope in what he had to say. Part of that hope was his willingness to go shoulder to shoulder with a GM.”

A lack of hope wasn’t something he necessarily felt when he said that Mora would remain the coach after the Ruskell resignation. What changed?

“I stood at this podium not too long ago and felt that we wouldn’t make a coaching change,” Leiweke said. “But those last four Seahawks games were really difficult. Three of them we were blown out in, and to lose that last home game like we did and feel the lack of hope, I just felt we weren’t a GM away from getting this program to where it needs to be.”

So Mora had to go.

“I would say telling Jim Mora he was no longer the head coach of the Seahawks was probably the most difficult day of my career because of a great affection I have for him,” Leiweke said.

But Leiweke was adamant that the decision to fire Mora wasn’t made immediately after that game or even by the time Mora made his season-ending press conference. But he understands how people, including Mora, can think differently.

“I do I think I owe Jim an apology,” Leieweke said.

He later confirmed that he did offer that apology to Mora over the phone.

“Jim and I are friends and we are going to be friends,” Leiweke said. “But while I apologized. it was just one of those difficult, awkward moments you find yourself in. Because as I left the building, Jim knew we were going to go have substantive discussion last week and we didn’t where those were going to come out. I can look you in the eye, that none of this was preordained. It was a fluid situation. The only thing preordained was he had to fix things.”

So the fix is Carroll.

Though Leiweke was adamant in saying that his interview with Vikings defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier wasn’t just a token interview to appease the Rooney Rule.

“I didn’t fly to Minnesota where it was 4 below zero and spent two days, because there was other things we could have done if that was just a box we were going to check,” Leiweke said. “Leslie Frazier was a serious candidate.”

“Leslie Frazier is going to be a head coach in this league,” Leiweke said. “He is a super-impressive guy. I went to Minnesota not knowing if we would get it done with Pete. There were some significant issues and I spent the better part of the day and an evening watching football with a guy who I just came away hugely impressed with. As I flew to L.A., I knew if it didn’t work out with Pete, there were some excellent candidates out there, specifically Leslie.”

And he was also clear that had Frazier been given the job, it probably wouldn’t have come with as much institutional power as Carroll, despite some earlier reports.

“Well, the fact is, it wouldn’t have been the same job that we talked to Leslie about,” Leiweke said. “I don’t think so.”

So how much power does Carroll have? Well that’s a gray area. When asked to describe the flow chart of power, Leiweke said, “We’re still working on it.”

Leiweke admitted that he may not only bring in a GM but a cap/contract specialist as well if they hire a younger GM.

“There could be three doors, there could be a cap contract door, a GM door, and Pete will have his own unique door,” he said.

Still this seems really unsettled. This whole shoulder to shoulder thing supposedly means that the GM and Carroll and a potentially a cap/contract guy would be equal in power. But I doubt that’s the case.

Carroll will have the most power – a hint of that will be his presence in the GM interviews , which started today.

“He’s going to sit in on all the interviews with the candidates and his voice is going to count in a significant way,” Leiweke said. “If we hadn’t given him this kind of authority, I don’t think he would have come. Pete is not yesterday’s lunch. This is a man recruited by multiple other teams.”

AT THE END OF THE DAY (a phrase that is now being used far too often) … all of this falls on Leiweke’s head. This was his decision. This was his process and his plan.

“We needed to clean the slate and begin a new era here. Hard decisions were made. We made them. I made them. I take full responsibility for them.”

General Seahawks
Leave a comment Comments → 19
  1. Ryan, you’re right. Leiweke said he felt a sense of hopelessness after the season, not when Ruskell resigned. You too saw just exactly how this team utterly imploded the final month. That, I’m sure, was a significant factor. I think the fact he recognized the depth of despair and how hopeless we felt, says a lot.

  2. My take is that this season became a train wreck that no one anticipated and that, after it happened, there was no sense that coach Mora understood how to prevent it from happening again in 2010.

  3. nighthawk2 says:

    There’s supposed to already be a cap guru on the team, dude named Idzik. That’s what Leiweke said anyway.

  4. nighthawk2 says:

    (Is the cap contract person in place?) “Yeah. That would be John Idzik. We thing is a really capable guy. Our vision is John stays and reports into the office of the CEO.”

    That’s from Erics’ “Leiweke Unplugged” post.

  5. IdahoHawk says:

    Do you think it’s possible that Leiweke later talked to the players, and maybe got the vibe that they didn’t buy into Mora/Knapp coaching? This causing Mora to be blind sided.

  6. williambryan says:

    When Holmgren went to the browns, i said on this blog that I would be following the browns as my favorite team and the seahawks second and that although I love the hawks, I wont live and die with every win or loss. Pete Carroll has won me over and “hope” (as is being thrown around a lot now) has entered my thoughts with this team. I support this move and applaud Todd and Paul Allen for not only firing mora but bringing in Carroll. The seahawks will continue to get my money. Go Hawks, Go Pete

  7. adamtoth says:

    Mora fired himself. I don’t think it was just the losses at the end.

    Every time he opened his mouth, he was an embarrasment for the Seahawks. Calling out Olindo Mare after the Chi game was a career defining moment for him. Showing a total lack of knoweldge about the productivity of John Carlson, or wondering why Spencer still had a cast were further nails in the coffin.

    I don’t believe that on a given Sunday, if the offensive or defensive coordinators fell terribly ill, that Jim Mora could have stepped in and successfully called a game from start to finish. If he couldn’t call a game, and had such a terrible lack of attnetion to details, than what value did he really have to the organization? And how could he possibly turn things around?

    I’m really proud of the ownership for realizing this and making the difficult and gutsy moves necessary. I don’t know if PC will get us there, but I sure know where more years of Mora would have headed.

  8. As far as I’m concerned, I’m very, VERY pleased with the fact PC will sit in on the GM interviews and have a say in who will join us…..
    “Shoulder to Shoulder” (had to throw that in…)

    Sure am liking the optomism of all this… Hard not to get caught up in it…

    also, anyone else notice PC apparently isn’t married… My special Lady here quickly noticed he was wearing no ring….

  9. Adam: “I’m really proud of the ownership for realizing this and making the difficult and gutsy moves necessary. I don’t know if PC will get us there, but I sure know where more years of Mora would have headed. ”

    Me too! Adam…. I openly commented I was ashamed before our last 2 games…. I feel LOTS better now!

  10. bird_spit says:

    I just finished listening to PC’s press conference. My thinking is that while PC is on the job, we won’t see the hawks come out flat after half time.

    If Pete says jump through the wall, my guess is they will.

    It certainly will be interesting playing EST games next year. My gut says the 10 o’clock start wont matter.

  11. DNutty206 says:


    “We needed to clean the slate and begin a new era here. Hard decisions were made. We made them. I made them. I take full responsibility for them.”

    All that leaves me to believe is that its actually Leiweke who is in complete control and I find it a little hard to believe that Leiweke feels like his job is now done, (or after a GM is hired it is). It sort of seems like if Leiweke has had this much responsibility in not only hiring front office personnel but on-field coaching personnel, what’s to say he is going to quit taking “full responsibility” for all personnel decisions now that it’s his guys who are in charge? Lets say Carroll and our GM want to draft someone other than a big name like at #6 and maybe make a trade or something, but Tod wants “his” guy; is Leiweke willing to give up on his control knowing that in the end, he takes “full responsibility’. And the last time I checked, Leiweke isn’t who any of us want making all of our football decisions.

  12. Dnut: “Leiweke isn’t who any of us want making all of our football decisions.”

    Exactly why I’m happy PC will be a mjr part of the decision/draft process… Also, with 2 top picks, that Cap specialist needs to be on top of his /her game. There will likely be some FA’s that can make us better right away….

  13. freedom_X says:

    I have a concern if Leiweke has to make “tie-breaker” decisions regularly. Other than that, I don’t think Leiweke’s position or power has changed from what he had 7 years ago. I don’t think he’s going to be watching scouting film and I don’t think players are going to bypass coaching/GM to talk to him. He’s basically Carroll’s new athletic director. :)

    I actually think Carroll will be in fact the defacto head of the football org, and the dominant personality. Bottom line is that due to the order of hiring, the GM is going to have to be able to work with Carroll, not the other way around. That almost assures that Carroll will be the dominant football personality.

  14. Stuff summa that $12M in the back of your pants in case the door hits you, Mora. At least TL didn’t pull a Dan Snyder and have him escorted from the place with an armed guard.

  15. Carroll is going to surround himself with the most talented coaches and general manager they can find. From what I’ve read, Bates can be a real pain in the ass, but he’s a great coach, so Carroll wants him on his staff. I really don’t get the impression that Carroll is a power monger. He wants to win and it sound like he’s whole thing is to create an environment where everyone can reach their goals. My interpretation of Carroll’s comments is that he’s the facilitator that brings everyone together, keeps everyone on the same page, and creates a climate that promotes success.

  16. subtlesquire says:

    I’m very excited about these developments over the past week. I too was without hope. I really like Mora and feel very bad for him, as bad as you can feel for a guy getting 12 million dollars. But his press conferences and decisions on the field, such as his insistence on starting JJ over the obviously more talented Forsett among others, left me feeling like the lights were on but nobody was home.

    Leiweke’s read that there needed to be a complete house cleaning and a start over with a clean slate was dead on in my opinion.

    It’s all water under the 520 bridge now. Welcome to Seattle Coach Carroll.

  17. I think most of the motivation behind the big shake up was that Paul Allen may have expressed to TL that he had one more chance to get this right or else he would be checking the classifieds for employment opportuniities.

  18. Leiweke doesn’t owe Mora anything! He’s going to get $12M the next 3 years for doing nothing. If the Hawks had shown some promise towards the end of the season I would’ve felt some sympathy for Mora. It was a good move by the FO to make a move and not stand still in a status quo position. We should all be grateful as fans that the Hawks have an owner that wants to bring a championship to the city.

  19. SharkHawk says:

    Didn’t Leiweke tell Mora that it was Paul’s decision? If so… then why is he changing it now? He chickened out when he blamed Paul. Now he is saying it’s on him and “at the end of the day” it was all Tod? Sounds to me like a man who is quick to pass blame, but also quick to take credit. If this PC thing blows up in their face then I guess it can now be Paul’s fault. If it works out swimmingly then Tod will claim he made all of the right moves and it was all him. Seems very Whitsitt-esque in too many ways. It gives me a headache.

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