Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The New Players Talk and Clayton Wraps It Up

by: William P. Tomisser

Yesterday there was a boatload of interviews done over at KJR with Colin Cole and T.J. Houshmandzadeh being interviewed, followed by John Clayton giving his opinion of the Seahawk signings and what they are likely to do in the draft as a consequence. After listening to them all, I was all keyed up and ready for the regular season to start. I loved the interviews with the new players and I thought that both sound committed to making the Seahawks a better team and both are likely to become real assets to the team and community.

Here's some links to the new player-related interviews and a synopsis of each one so that you can get the gist of what was discussed if you don't have time to listen.

First up is Houshmandzadeh's press conference. T.J. is engaging and well spoken. He comes across as a very confident player who knows he is going to come in and help this club. Like all Ruskell players, he oozes character and makes you believe that Seattle is going to be a good football team next season. He said that Mora was instrumental in helping him reach the conclusion that Seattle was the place he was supposed to be and figured in his decision. Not only were his daughters infatuated with Mora, but Mora himself was engaging and handled the personal relations with honesty, enthusiasm, and great skill. Mora seems to be a master at recruitment, as you can well imagine after watching his initial press conference.

T.J. said that he was sure when he left Seattle that he wanted to be here but that he had promised Minnesota that he would visit them and he wanted to keep his word even though he knew as he left that Seattle was where he wanted to be. It's that Ruskell type of character shining through again.

To Continue . . .

Later, Softy interviewed T.J. on the air. Once again, T.J. sounded relaxed and showed a good personality. He's definitely a Ruskell type of player who seems to live and breathe football. He was asked about how he would rate Mora's ability to recruit. He said that Mora didn't try to sell him on anything or actively recruit but was totally himself and at ease. He called him very personable and charismatic and he said that Mora was one of the reasons for his wanting to play in Seattle.

Softy asked Housh if he could be a deep threat for Seattle. Housh replied that in his opinion he could do everything on the football field. He went on to say that since he got a late start playing football, he hasn't had the wear and tear on his body that most receivers his age have. He said that he has the body of a 27 year old at his 31 years of age and that he has many good years of football left in him to give to Seattle. He concluded by saying that his talent was a gift from God and that he can't wait to get things rockin' in Seattle.

Mitch interviewed Colin Cole from Green Bay over the telephone. Colin turned out to be one of the best personalities I've listened to on KJR over the last year, and that's including a lot of football players. When asked what the coaches want from him, he replied that he can do whatever the coaches want him to do but they explained it to him like this. They want him to get his hands on the center and control him, which invites double teams and gives other players a chance to work against lighter protection to get to the quarterback and/or ball carrier. He'll be playing the one-tech position, lining up between guard and center.

Colin has a very good sense of humor and sounded grateful for the chance Seattle is giving him. Asked why Green Bay didn't keep him, he said that every other team including Seattle wanted him to come in and be a starting tackle but Green Bay wanted him to still play behind someone else and presumably for backup pay. Asked what it was that made him turn the corner from being on practice squads and becoming a player who played in a lot of games, he said it was when the GM at Detroit (probably Matt Millen) said that he wasn't good enough to play football in the NFL and that he should quit. That pissed him off and he had a burning desire to go out an prove him wrong, and when he went to Green Bay he stuck on the main roster and has worked himself up to become ready to be a starter.

Colin is another very confident player who says that he can do whatever is asked of him and feels that he can play in this league. When asked which team came in second for his services he replied "If you're not first, you're last." He comes off like he's been a lifetime Seahawk, always using the pronoun "we" to describe everything, as in "we" intend to get after it this year and "we're" going to have a great season and so forth.

He said that he was blown away by the VMAC facilities. He also said he couldn't wait to get in here and start working on his part of getting the team ready to play next season so "we" can get back to being a playoff contender. He said that he's heard all the stories of how difficult it is to play at Qwest field because of the 12th man and he's really glad to be part of all that now. When asked what the two biggest purchases he made was with his new paycheck, he said it was a new, bigger wedding ring for his wife and buying a house here in Seattle.

This guy came off as being committed not only to his new team but to the community as well, a guy who will buy a house here and immerse himself and family into the Seattle community and give this football team all he has. Once again, a real Ruskell player 100% committed to football, of outstanding character, and focused on winning. He gives a whole little speech at the end of the interview laced with "we's" that show that he has bought into the Seahawks already with his heart and soul. I found myself liking this guy a lot and I'm really hoping he can play football because he's the kind of player we need on the team.

John Clayton was also interviewed by Softy and gave his opinions of the recent signings and what Seattle is likely to do in the draft. Clayton said that Housh is a taller version of Bobby Engram. He thinks the Seahawks has a very good set of receivers now going into next season. He said that Bobby Engram is gone after the Houshmandzadeh signing.

When asked if Seattle would take a sniff at Crabtree in April's draft, he said of course they would but he doesn't expect them to take a full sniff. Clayton says that not knowing whether Crabtree runs a 4.9 or 4.6 coupled with his injury and the uncertainty of having surgery will make Seattle shy away from him. He believes Crabtree will go in the top 8 picks or so and specifically at number 6 or 7 which means he thinks Seattle will pass on him.

He said that Seattle was in great shape cap-wise and had $18 or $19 million left depending on the details of the Houshmandzadeh signing and could afford to do whatever they want to do not only in the remaining free agency period but in the draft as well. He did say that if they did take Crabtree they would probably get rid of a receiver, most likely Burleson. He mentioned Monroe, Raji, and Crabtree when talking about making a pick at number four with his feeling being that they're going to go best player available regardless of what position that is. He mentioned that player will probably be either Eugene Monroe or Jason Smith with both Raji and Crabtree being considered.

He said that Ruskell has done a great job and that Seattle is one of the top three teams in the league right now in terms of what they have done in free agency. The two biggest problems they've been talking about for five months now is that they needed to get bigger at defensive tackle and they needed to get a number one wide receiver. Ruskell has taken care of both of those objectives already and has left himself in a position where he can let the draft come to him and do anything he wants to do, allowing himself to select the best player available and not have to reach due to need. However, he can afford to reach for someone he covets if he wants to, like maybe for Raji.

Softy also gave Ruskell high marks and said he has done a fabulous job of knockin' off a couple of big checkmarks from the list. Clayton says that the bulk of free agency is over for the Seahawks with the possible exception of maybe going after Jermaine Phillips. He expects to see some bargain hunting for some 1 and 2 year deals to fill out the roster but the rest of Seattle's big acquisitions will be in the draft in April now.

Clayton really likes what the Seahawks have done here in free agency and goes on to talk about other NFC West and general NFL news. He does mention that the salaries for NFL defensive players is going up dramatically with Haynesworth's deal for $100 million over 7 years with $41 million guaranteed, the Raiders paying Asomugha $15 million a year, Canty's deal for $42 million with $17.5 million guaranteed, and the one year deal for Julius Peppers for $16 million. He also says not to be surprised at Eli Manning getting $20 million a year on his next contract. Makes our signing of Cole look pretty good at only $5 million guaranteed, doesn't it?

These interviews are very good listening and should give you a chance to learn a little about our new players and I guarantee they will get your blood boiling for the season to get underway. Both of these guys have made a major commitment to our football team as well as the Seattle community in making the decision to come here and I'm with Clayton on what Ruskell has done in finding these two players to come in here and give Seattle a chance to get back into the leader's role in the NFC West.


Bill T