Each player on 90-man roster gets a note heading into the offseason
RENTON — Seahawks general manager John Schneider liberally quotes from comedies like “Anchorman” and “Step Brothers,” but Schneider is old school in at least one way.
He still writes handwritten letters. Every June, when players head off their separate ways for six weeks before returning for training camp in July, Schneider writes all 90 players a personalized, handwritten note.
Everyone in the locker room views the letters differently. Some players intend to keep them for their kids. Some players read them but eventually misplace them. And a few players admitted to not reading them at all or couldn’t remember if they did.
But if nothing else, most players appreciated the gesture and the thought, the time it takes to sit down and write so many players an individual and personal message before they head off for the summer.
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Defensive end Cliff Avril: “Most GMs don’t speak to their players. Now, some of the young guys that have never been on another team, they just think it’s normal. But I think it’s pretty cool. I actually have all my letters in my office at home. I’ve been in a situation where I didn’t speak to the GM until my fourth year in Detroit. Since I’ve been here, you see Schneider in the hallway, you speak to him. Cool guy. That’s what makes it cooler: They’re all personalized. He could have easily just had a stamp with the same damn quote, but they’re all personalized. Matter of fact, one of mine was the year after the Super Bowl. He was like, ‘We’re so happy to get you, Mike, some of the other guys. We were fortunate enough to get you and look what happened.’ He was like, ‘Let’s just win another one.’ ”
Offensive tackle Bradley Sowell: “I think it’s just a really professional thing to do. My brother-in-law is actually the general manager for the Milwaukee Brewers, so I told him about that. I thought that was really cool just to get a handwritten letter. You’re heading into the offseason, and you get a handwritten letter from the GM, and so you’re thinking, ‘Hey, I’m going to work really hard for him. That guy is a good guy.’ They do a lot of stuff around here to show you they really care. I think it goes a long way and shows they’re not like every organization. I have it. I’ll keep it forever.”
Linebacker Brock Coyle: “It clearly means that he’s paying attention, that he’s watching. It makes you not only appreciate him and the organization, but it makes you feel appreciated.”
Linebacker Bobby Wagner: “It’s a different note. It’s not just something that everybody gets. It’s your own personalized note. It meant a lot that he takes the time to do that. A lot of personal stuff between me and him. We’ve had a lot of history, and I appreciate that he still remembers a lot of stuff that he puts in the notes.”
Defensive back Tyvis Powell: “I’m pretty sure no other GM takes the time to write every rookie a freaking letter about how he feels about them. It was really thoughtful, and it really motivated me. I used to read it once a week, just to keep myself motivated. I didn’t want to let him down. He just said he sees a lot of potential in me and he wants me to come in and learn corner and safety and while doing that becoming one of the core special-teamers. So I’m just trying to hold up my end of the deal.”
Punter Jon Ryan: “I save them. GMs don’t do that. Coaches don’t do that. What they’ve built here is that they care about the person, not just the football player. You can feel that. It’s not artificial. It’s not made up. It’s real. It’s cool to be a part of that because that’s not how it is anywhere else I’ve seen.”
Just the other day, the letters came up in conversation in the locker room. Rookie offensive tackle George Fant was a total longshot when he joined the Seahawks this offseason: a former college basketball player who had almost no background in football. Fant opened a cubby, fished around inside and pulled out a postcard-sized note. Neat cursive, personalized for him, just reminding him how much Schneider believed in him.
“Still here,” Fant said.