At 52, Seahawks’ DeBord is an NFL rookie

KIRKLAND — When one dream died, Mike DeBord decided to chase another.

So, after 26 years of coaching college football — including a stint as offensive coordinator at one of the country’s most prestigious programs — DeBord decided to make the jump to the NFL.

DeBord was a candidate to replace Lloyd Carr as the head coach at the University of Michigan, and when that did not pan out, he opted to take a job as assistant offensive line coach for the Seattle Seahawks.

“It’s the best of your profession,” DeBord said of why he decided to take an NFL job. “I’ve worked at high school and all levels of college, and I just really wanted to work at the professional level. I wanted to see what the players were like, the coaches, the whole system. That’s what I wanted to do.”

Knowing that NFL jobs are few and far between, DeBord was willing to take a lesser title. He said Seahawks head coach Mike Holmgren warned him about the adjustment from offensive coordinator to assistant line coach, but the 52-year-old former Michigan assistant is willing to put his ego in check.

“I’ve never really cared what position I was in or anything like that,” said DeBord, who didn’t know any of the Seahawks’ coaches before taking the job in March. “I’ve just really enjoyed coaching. I knew that in this league, I wasn’t going to come in as a coordinator. So I really just came in wanting to learn.”

The most obvious source of knowledge is Holmgren, who is in the final year of his 23-year career as an NFL coach. But DeBord spends most of his time learning from new Seahawks offensive line coach Mike Solari, who has 17 years of experience at the pro level.

Solari joined the Seahawks after Bill Laveroni was fired in January, while DeBord takes a position that was vacated when Keith Gilbertson was named receivers coach.

DeBord said that his family was a major factor in his decision to join the NFL now. He had considered making the jump in the past — DeBord said he turned down a previous offer to join an NFL staff — but didn’t want to move his family out of Ann Arbor, Mich. Now that his youngest son is almost finished with college, DeBord felt the time was right.

He also didn’t have any ties with the Michigan program after Carr stepped down. Rich Rodriguez was named the new coach, leaving DeBord free to pursue his NFL dream.

“This was what I wanted to do,” DeBord said. “But I also knew how hard it would be to try to get into this league, especially (right away). But this was the window of opportunity that I had, so I wanted to look.”

DeBord had two stints as Michigan’s offensive coordinator, serving as head coach at Central Michigan in between. Most of his experience as a position coach came with the offensive line, which is where he played at Manchester (Ind.) College in the 1970s.

Holmgren returns: After missing two days because of a minor medical procedure, Holmgren was back on the practice field Wednesday.

“Anytime your leader gets back, it always gets everyone a little more fired up,” running back T.J. Duckett said. “It’s a big motivator. Players want to show up and give their best.”

In Holmgren’s absence, offensive coordinator Gil Haskell ran practice.

Hoopsters in the house: Holmgren and his staff were not the only coaches at the Seahawks’ practice Wednesday.

After an invitation from the Seahawks’ coach, Sonics head coach P.J. Carlisemo and his staff were in Kirkland to observe how things are done in the NFL. The Sonics’ coaches attended practice and sat in on coaches’ meetings during the day.

Also at the practice was New York Knicks guard and Seattle native Jamal Crawford.

Duckett in limbo: Duckett is still figuring out what his role will be after joining the Seahawks as a free agent from Detroit.

“I just want to go and help out,” the veteran running back said. “There’s so much talent at every position. I’ll just go out and help however I can, whether that means carrying the ball or making that one key block. Whatever it is. At the end of the day, it’s all about winning.”

Duckett has mostly played halfback during his career, but Holmgren is toying with the idea of using him as a fullback or short-yardage specialist.

As for Duckett’s perfect scenario this season?

“Perfect world,” he said with a grin, “we win every game.”

Quick slants: Guard Rob Sims has always been an avid weightlifter, but he took things to a new level in the past few months. Sims said he added 10 pounds of muscle after a weight-training routine designed for powerlifters. … Linebacker Lance Laury (personal reasons) returned to practice Wednesday. Safety C.J. Wallace (appendectomy) was present but did not participate.

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