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Danny O'Neil covers the Seahawks for The Seattle Times.



January 11, 2010 at 11:58 AM

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Jim Mora on 950 KJR AM at 12:08: Running diary

Posted by Danny O'Neil

What do you do if you're a former Seahawks coach in Seattle? Why, you go on 950 KJR AM, of course. Mike Holmgren had a radio show most Fridays during this regular season, and now Jim Mora is about to appear on the radio four days after he was fired as coach in Seattle.

I'll be keeping a running diary right here so stay tuned.

Journalism in 2010 or a sign of the apocalypse? I'll let you decide, but given the furor of the past few days and that not even an hour ago, the Seahawks sent out a four-paragraph press release announcing Pete Carroll as Jim Mora's successor, I would say the interest of the area is currently piqued.

So here we go, Dave Mahler and Hugh Millen -- Jim Mora's college roommate is in the studio.

"Well, I didn't have a lot going on today," Mora said.

There you go, starting off with a joke, and then it immediately proceeds into a discussion of just why Mahler is referred to as Softie. Oh, so many jokes, but as a person living in the glass house of an overly ample mid-section, I have decided I best not cast stones.

"Well, I got the news Friday, and then I went home and I have four kids, and they're my main concern," Mora said.

He met his two youngest children at the bus to talk to them. His oldest son, Cole, is a freshman at Bellevue High and said that he was a veteran at this. His daughter was worried about having to move, and Shannon -- Jim's wife -- said that no, they wouldn't be moving.

It's really compelling to hear about the human element of this. These coaches have families, they have children at school and their business is so very public that it makes families very vulnerable.

Mora made a particularly revealing story about going out this weekend, saying he usually wears a hat in public to keep from drawing attention to himself. This weekend, he went out without his hat, and his son, Ryder, asked his father where his hat was.

"I'm not going to hide," Mora said.

Mora said his father, a former NFL coach, is extremely bothered by the decision. Mora said he was trying to keep a more positive outlook.

"Life isn't always fair, but life is good," the younger Mora said. "I'm going to try and look at it that way."

So now, we get into the question. What happened? Because six weeks ago, Mora was seen on very firm footing going forward. So how is that he's in a radio studio right now after the team sent out a four-paragraph announcement.

"I don't know what happened," Mora said. "I'm not the right guy to ask about that."

Mora said over the course of the week he had some misgivings and uneasiness.

"I was feeling a little bit uneasy when I hadn't spoken anyone between Monday and Friday morning," Mora said.

Mora addressed the media on Wednesday, and he said he didn't expect that a franchise would send a coach out to do that if he wasn't going to be back.

There's a reason things are called Black Monday. In this case, Mora got to twist for five days before Seahawks CEO Tod Leiweke came to Mora's office to tell him a chance was coming.

Mora said he was told, "Paul wants to make a change," by Leiweke. That was repeated. "Paul wants to make a change?" Millen asked. "Paul wants to make a change," Mora said.

Now, I'm trying to piece everything together and I'm admittedly a little obtuse to borrow a Shawshawnk expression, but it appears that owner Paul Allen wanted to make a change.

12:26 p.m.: And we're back after that commercial interlude. Mahler asks if it's OK for him to say that Pete Carroll has a 3 p.m. press conference at USC.

Now we're getting in the not-so-way-back machine, and Mahler is asking Mora what Jim Mora would have done differently to keep Jim Mora as head coach. Jim Mora is trying to answer that one and says, "Win more games."

He says he had a plan going forward.

Now, Mahler is talking about the tool shed and the roster that Mora was handed, and Mahler bluntly asks if he was handed a roster capable of winning, and he does a little bit of that everyone's to blame, no one's at fault talk.

"We had work to do," Mora said. "We had work to do. With the roster, the coaching staff, the scheme."

The autopsy continues, and Mora makes it clear he's not going to question player performance, but it's clear the issues of the offense.

"The inconsistency of the offense specifically as it regards to injuries," Mora said.

Now, we get a list of bumps and bruises. Marcus Trufant (back), Mike Wahle (shoulder), Walter Jones (knee), Nate Burleson (ankle), Leroy Hill (groin). Wow, put all those players together and you might have a totally healthy NFL Pro Bowler. Nope.

Mora said T.J. Houshmandzadeh was the first player to call him after news of the dismissal came out. Mora said that he hadn't heard from 100 percent of the players, but it was very close, and that was a sign.

"I had 'em where I wanted 'em," Mora said. "They were buying in."

Well, how about the wide receivers coming down to 950 KJR in studio and staging a blanket party in which they pummeled Hugh Millen, cast aspersions on Greg Knapp's play-calling. Was it a sign the inmates were running the asylum? Nope, Mora said. He said very bluntly there were not problems in Seattle's locker room. As someone who has spent too much of the last five months in that locker room, I would tend to agree. The griping was the result of an offense that was grinding its gears, problems exacerbated in the final three games when Seattle lost the only receiver who was stretching the field in Nate Burleson on a team where the most explosive player in the open field was cornerback Josh Wilson and the biggest offensive playmaker proved to be a former seventh-round pick considered by most in the NFL as too slow to be a starting tailback (Justin Forsett).

12:46 p.m.: So what's next for Mora? Dave Mahler is asking Jim Mora that right now.

"Future is going to be great," Mora said. "I'm going to enjoy time with my family and think about all my options."

Mora left all options open, including working as a television analyst.

Now, Hugh Millen has cut to the quick with a question of whether a change was going to be made at head coach regardless of Pete Carroll's availability. Mora again said that's not a question for him to answer.

Mora again reiterated the disappointment he feels is that he wasn't given the chance to complete the task he was hired to complete, and he didn't doubt that he would have fulfilled it.

Now, we're getting into question of whether the Seahawks violated "Man Laws" by interviewing Pete Carroll for a job that was not -- in fact -- open at that time.

Mora said he talked to a number of people nationally that didn't sit well with. Mora chose to use broad brushstrokes in his response.

"I think if you conduct your life in an honest way and have morals and integrity, you're going to be fine," Mora said. "If you're sneaky or suspicious, it's going to get you."

The show concludes with Dave Mahler intimating a way-down-the-road possibility about the Washington Huskies, Millen telling him to quiet down, and Mora stating his hope is that there ends up being a Steve Sarkisian Center down at Washington just like there is now a Don James Center, meaning that Sarkisian becomes a landmark in college football while at Washington.

As the parting commences, Mahler says that if Mora wants to do a radio show next year, there is an opening.

That's totally true because now that Mike Holmgren is Cleveland's president, that leaves 950 KJR with an opening for "The NFL Show with (Insert former Seahawk coach here)."

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