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Originally published Monday, January 11, 2010 at 8:52 PM

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Jerry Brewer

For Pete's sake, Seahawks must find an agile GM

Who's running this team, anyway? After hiring a rock-star coach, the Seahawks now need a general manager who can "collaborate."

Seattle Times staff columnist

RENTON — Now that the Seahawks have their rock-star coach, they're fully committed to finding a general manager.

You know, the guy who normally hires the coach.

"We've got to get it right on the GM," Seahawks CEO Tod Leiweke said, tapping the table with his fist for emphasis.

Somewhere in Seattle, a single man just bought a wedding ring and declared he was determined to find a girlfriend.

If this kind of reverse logic becomes chic, we'll soon see pedestrians walking around carrying rims, surgeons cutting before the anesthesia kicks in and employees everywhere demanding to have a partnership with their supervisors.

Abbott and Costello could have had fun with the Seahawks' new direction. They could have revised a football version of their "Who's on first?" routine with this kooky organizational restructuring.

Who's running the football team? Well, it's new coach Pete Carroll, sort of. It's the new general manager, whoever that will be. It's John Idzik, to an extent, because he monitors the salary cap and negotiates the contracts.

And it's Leiweke, who has added a new task to his assortment of responsibilities: hall monitor. He's in charge of making sure they all "stay in their lanes," he said.

Good luck, dude.

"I'm not at all intimidated about helping this group collaborate," Leiweke said.

The Seahawks' new buzzword is collaborate. In 12 seasons as owner, Paul Allen has let Mike Holmgren, Bob Whitsitt and Tim Ruskell run his football team. None proved to be long-term solutions. All provided lessons on the pitfalls of handing over too much power to one person. So now, in a sense, the Seahawks are overcorrecting.

Instead of one head honcho, they'll have a committee, at least in theory, and Leiweke will decide any disagreements between Carroll and the unidentified GM by making them arm wrestle. Actually, Leiweke might prefer having them accompany him up Mount Rainier. That approach is more taxing but far kinder than my idea, which is to create a game in honor of the infamous quote from jettisoned coach Jim Mora — "Pin the Tail on the Dirtbag."

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If anyone can make this work, it's Leiweke. He's as solid a person and sports executive as you'll find. That said, he presided over the Holmgren/Ruskell feud and couldn't get those two to sit in a circle and share their feelings.

The difference now is that Carroll and the new GM will enter their relationship understanding the philosophy is that one isn't bigger than the other. Nevertheless, because Carroll was hired first and also carries a vice-president title, there will always be the perception that he's da man.

The Seahawks have interviews with at least four GM candidates this week, and Leiweke said Carroll will be at all of those meetings. In addition, Carroll called his potential BFFs on Monday and assured them he wouldn't send any mean text messages.

Now that's definitely real classy.

Still, we'll have to see it work to believe it can work. Right now, the Seahawks seem like a team whose owner had a crush on a high-profile coach and went on a speedy, reckless pursuit.

If football really were its own religion, then the Seahawks should be repenting like Tiger Woods. Among the (unwritten) commandments they're accused of breaking:

• Thou shalt not flirt with another coach while you have a coach.

• Thou shalt not leave to-be-dumped coach as a dead man talking during a season wrap-up news conference.

• Thou shalt not hold sham interviews to comply with the Rooney Rule.

• Thou shalt not hire a college coach to do a pro coach's job.

• Thou shalt not hire a coach before you hire a GM.

Forgive them, Father (Lombardi), for they know not what they do.

Hate to rank sins, but the last one is the worst because it could hinder the franchise for years to come. The Seahawks' most desperate need is a great talent evaluator, and by hiring Carroll and limiting the new GM's authority, they can't expect to get more than an up-and-coming executive or an FOP (Friend of Pete).

Leiweke described the ideal general manager this way: "Not a jack of all trades, but a master of players and the draft board."

If that's what they want, then Marc Ross, the New York Giants' director of college scouting, is the best man on their list. He's only 35. He knows talent. And he'd be grateful to have this job instead of concerned over a lack of power.

But what do I know? I don't get to sit in on the interviews this week. Carroll, the new rock-star coach, does.

While in Los Angeles last Sunday, on what we'll now call the Seahawks' "Sweet on Pete" mission, Leiweke found some trouble. He ran into a fan who noticed the Seahawks logo on his shirt. The fan proceeded to harass him a little, knowing full well why Leiweke was visiting.

"So I'm going to have to be careful about going down to L.A. in the future because I think I've inadvertently made some enemies down there," Leiweke joked.

If this quirky plan proves to be backward thinking, L.A. won't be the only place he'll have to watch his back.

Jerry Brewer: 206-464-2277 or jbrewer@seattletimes.com, Twitter: @Jerry_Brewer

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Jerry Brewer offers a unique perspective on the world of sports.
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