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Originally published Thursday, September 9, 2010 at 10:02 PM

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Steve Kelley

Seattle teams shouldn't be afraid to admit they're rebuilding

Seahawks, Mariners should just be honest about their efforts: they're in a rebuilding phase. Rebuilding, after all, could lead to recovery.

Seattle Times staff columnist

What's so scary about the "R" word?

Why do so many teams treat the seven-letter word "rebuild" like it was a four-letter word?

John Schneider, the Seahawks' new general manager, shouldn't have stuttered and stammered and twisted himself into some kind of verbal pretzel this week when he explained the radical moves the team was making.

Sure the timing was all wrong. And maybe Schneider was nervous announcing so many drastic changes to the roster this close to the beginning of the season, but let's have a little forthrightness here.

Let's not insult the intelligence of the Seahawks' fans.

Instead of calling it a "patch," or "fix" or some other softer-sounding euphemism, call it what it is. Don't be afraid.

The Seahawks are rebuilding. How could they not be rebuilding?

Schneider and new coach Pete Carroll inherited a team that won a total of nine games the past two seasons. The Seahawks allowed general manager Tim Ruskell to resign and fired coach Jim Mora.

They've turned over half of the roster. Carroll is their third coach in three years. If that's not rebuilding, what is?

Sure it's hard for fans to hear that a franchise isn't all about this season, especially in this city that always seems to be waiting until next year.

But as former Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren liked to say, "It is what it is."

Still it has been a notion that struggling Seattle teams always seem reluctant to embrace.

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To his credit (and I hate giving him any credit for anything), former Sonics owner Howard Schultz once told Seattle the Sonics were instituting a "five-year plan."

Unfortunately that plan turned out to be nothing more than wasting draft picks on 21 feet of talentless centers, allowing coach Nate McMillan to leave for Portland, then selling the franchise to an owner from Oklahoma City.

Sadly for Seattle's NBA fans the smart rebuilding didn't begin until Clay Bennett bought the team and, because he didn't want to win in Seattle, gave permission to his new general manager Sam Presti to strip the team and turn it into a contender in Oklahoma City.

Presti inherited the best job in sports.

He was allowed to trade a superstar (Ray Allen) for a draft pick (Jeff Green). He was allowed to trade away any and all parts and was allowed to lose because the franchise was moving.

Presti was honest about his plan to rebuild the Sonics, but it all happened too late to save Seattle.

The Mariners, who have been rebuilding for a decade, have been as reluctant as the Seahawks to use the "R" word.

When Bill Bavasi was general manager, they desperately tried to find puzzle pieces from Carl Everett to Erik Bedard, from Carlos Silva to Rich Aurilia, to find a way to stay in contention.

In the meantime, Bavasi ignored the farm system and left a mess that his successor Jack Zduriencik still is scrambling to clean up.

The Mariners are rebuilding. Their minor-league system is under repair and, as miserably dysfunctional as this season has been, there is hope that the young talent can emerge and this team can be a contender in 2012 or 2013.

Losing franchises can't start winning until they accept rebuilding.

It is understandable why Carroll said what he said at his introductory news conference last winter. It's almost as important for him to energize the Seahawks' fan base as it is to reconstruct the Seahawks' roster.

The last thing Seahawks' fans wanted to hear that day was, "Fasten your seats belts, it's going to be a bumpy ride."

Because the NFC West is ridiculously bad there is a glimmer of hope for this season. Even in this state of disrepair, the Seahawks, who also play the almost-as-bad teams of the AFC West this season, could compete for a division title.

But they definitely are rebuilding. Their roster is gaping with holes. It seems, almost daily, they're getting younger. The moves they've made in the past week are unprecedented in their scope.

They aren't patching, or poking, or prodding. They're rebuilding.

So don't be afraid of the word. Accepting the "R" word is the first step toward another, brighter "R" word.

Recovery.

Steve Kelley: 206-464-2176 or skelley@seattletimes.com

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About Steve Kelley

Steve Kelley covers all sports, putting his spin on matters involving both the home team and the nation.
skelley@seattletimes.com | 206-464-2176

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