August 5: What you missed
Kevin Calabro and Jim Moore were back at the VMAC today. Seahawks general manager John Schneider made an impromptu appearance on the show and while mostly tight-lipped about the status of Russell Okung’s contract negotiations, he did have a couple of things to say.
Schneider made it clear how important it is to get Okung, who will likely be inserted into the starting lineup immediately, signed and out onto the practice field.
“I think it’s critical,” Schneider said. “He’s missing time, and he’s a rookie. â€¦ Obviously more is made of it based on where he was picked. â€¦ It’s one of those things that you just work though.”
One of the sticky points in the negotiations seems to be that Okung, the 6th pick in the draft, plays left tackle, a position that typically demands top dollar. The 5th pick in the draft, Eric Berry, plays safety, a position not nearly as high on the salary totem pole.
When asked if Okung deserves a contract similar to that of Berry, Schneider said, “No, he should not. It’s slotted. …It’s pretty clear cut right now where Eric is and where (7th-pick Joe) Haden is and where we fall in there.”
Berry and Haden have both signed, meaning Okung and running back C.J. Spiller are the only two remaining unsigned draft picks.
Kevin and Jim also talked to Tod Leiweke, who recently stepped down from his position at Vulcan to take over as CEO and part owner of the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning.
The thought of bringing professional hockey to town has been a recurring topic on the show, so the guys asked Leiweke if he thought that Seattle could support an NHL franchise.
He did, and agreed that a building needed to be built in order for that to even be a possibility, but he also pointed to an instance in which a building wasn’t enough to keep a team.
“[Seattle] is the largest market in the United States without a winter sports team, and fact is, I thought the Sonics worked here,” said Leiweke. “Two years before they left, that playoff series against the Spurs, that building was shaking. That whole thing got down to leadership. And I won’t cast dispersions, whether that was the league office, or the state officials, or ownership, â€¦ [but] it was really something that bothered me, because it’s totally wrong.”
After two years out of the NFL, Mike Williams is now part of Seattle’s receiving core. Since Williams went to USC, we asked him about playing for Pete Carroll.
“It’s fun, but it’s hard,” Williams said. “I think people take him the wrong way because of his attitude and because he always seems to be in good spirits and smiling. But he demands a lot out of a player.”
IN OTHER NEWS:
Former University of Washington and Seattle Prep hoops star Spencer Hawes was out at Seahawks practice, and he stopped to talk with KC and Jim Moore for a few minutes. Hawes was recently traded from Sacramento to Philadelphia, and he told us he’s excited to play for new coach Doug Collins.
“He really has a reputation not only as a great coach, but really getting the most out of his players,” Hawes said. “A lot of guys’ best years have come under his guidance. â€¦ Basketball-wise I think it’s a better situation for me.”
Hawes said that while his offensive numbers were down last year, he has significantly improved his defense.
“Defensively I made a lot of strides. It’s hard to look at that and quantify it. The key is just continuing to mature physically, and I think will pay dividends.”
Hawes showed his support for the departed Sonics. He said that one of the positives of playing in the Eastern Conference will be that he’ll only have to travel to Oklahoma City once a year.
He also described a custom suit here wore for first trip to Oklahoma City that consisted of a ‘Sonics Yellow’ jacket, a green shirt, and a tie with the Space Needle stitched into it.
“It’s a little gesture,” Hawes said. “It was just my way of showing support for the Sonics and everything they’ve meant not only to myself, but to the community.”