Ruskell steps down as Seahawks GM

  • By John Boyle Herald Writer
  • Thursday, December 3, 2009 10:24am
  • Sports

RENTON — Less than four years after Seattle went to the Super Bowl in Tim Ruskell’s first year with the organization, the Seahawks president of football operations and general manager ended his tenure by announcing his resignation Thursday morning.

Ruskell was in the final year of a five-year contract. Recently Ruskell sought a resolution about his future beyond this year, and when the Seahawks couldn’t give him one, he decided to step down.

“I pushed for an answer,” Ruskell said.

An emotional Ruskell, seated alongside Tod Leiweke, the CEO of Vulcan Sports and Entertainment, said he leaves the organization with no bitterness.

“I will leave with good memories,” Ruskell said. “The good outweighs the bad. Big time.”

Ruston Webster, the team’s vice president of player personnel, will serve as the interim general manager until a permanent hire is made.

Leiweke praised Ruskell for his contributions to the Seahawks Super Bowl run, for helping turn the new team headquarters in Renton into a reality, and for hiring current head coach Jim Mora, but ultimately those positives didn’t make up for the current struggles of the team.

“Quite simply we didn’t win enough games,” Leiweke said. “I work for a man, Paul Allen, who has exacting standards . . . Bottom line, we didn’t win enough games.”

Ruskell defended his tenure in Seattle, noting the Seahawks’ success in his first three season, and also said he believes the franchise is headed in the right direction, but acknowledged that the results haven’t been there over the past two seasons.

“I wish it had happened sooner,” he said of a turnaround. “But that’s the way the NFL works.”

Ruskell leaves with Seattle likely headed for a second straight losing season. The Seahawks finished 4-12 last season, their worst record since 1992, but the organization viewed that as an aberration caused by an unusually high number of injuries. But this year the Seahawks are just 4-7, and have been outscored by double-digit margins in six of those seven losses.

Ruskell was hired in February of 2005, and helped put together the roster that took the Seahawks to the Super Bowl the following winter. He added five starters to the defense, including rookie linebackers Lofa Tatupu and Leroy Hill.

Seattle went 9-7 in 2006 and 10-6 in 2007, winning the division each year and going 2-2 in playoff games during that time. Last season ended a streak of four straight division titles and five consecutive playoff berths.

While Ruskell has had his success, most notably in finding talent in the later rounds of the draft, he also has received criticism for his use of first-round picks, his handling of the offensive line, and his decision to address the run game by signing veterans such as Julius Jones, T.J. Duckett and Edgerrin James rather than by drafting running backs. Ruskell also traded a first-round draft pick for receiver Deion Branch and signed him to a big contract, only to have Branch battle injuries throughout his time in Seattle.

Ruskell will perhaps be remembered most by Seahawks fans for losing Steve Hutchinson, the All-Pro left guard who helped power the Seahawks’ offense during their Super Bowl season. Rather than use the franchise tag on Hutchinson after that season, Ruskell instead used the transition tag, which allowed Minnesota to sign Hutchinson without giving the Seahawks compensation.

Ruskell was able to maintain his sense of humor even on the day his Seahawks career came to an end. When asked about the moments, good and bad, he would remember, Ruskell brought up Hutchinson and said he told his wife they may want to reconsider the decision to be buried instead of cremated.

“So they won’t be able to write, ‘Here lies the man that lost Hutch,’” he joked.

A new general manager brings into question the job security of the current head coach, but Leiweke said, “I expect Jim Mora will be retained.”

Leiweke went on to say that the Seahawks are a desirable franchise, so they won’t exactly be begging someone to take the job, meaning the Seahawks won’t have to drastically change the way they do business.

“We’re not going to join them,” he said. “They’re going to join us.”

The Seahawks will now look for Ruskell’s replacement from a list of candidates that likely includes former head coach and general manager Mike Holmgren. Holmgren spent 10 seasons as the Seahawks head coach, and was also the general manager early in his tenure before having those duties removed after the 2002 season. Holmgren stepped down after last season and was replaced by Jim Mora, but Holmgren has stated his desire to return to football either as a head coach or GM.

Leiweke would not discuss details of the search for Ruskell’s replacement, saying only that the team would be thorough in the process. Asked specifically if Holmgren was a candidate, Leiweke responded: “I’m just not going to go there. I’m not going to talk about that today.”

Herald Writer John Boyle: For more Seahawks coverage, check out the Seahawks blog at

Talk to us

More in Sports

Silvertips’ Andrew Petruk (26) fights for the puck during a game between the Everett Silvertips and Victoria Royals at the Angel of the Winds Arena on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2023. The Silvertips won, 5-3. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Some good, some bad for Silvertips in season-opening split

Everett was missing three key players over the weekend but significantly outshot its two opponents.

A look at the Seattle Sounders’ new crest and secondary images unveiled on Tuesday. (Seattle Times photo)
Sounders unveil new crest, colors as 50th season approaches

The new look, which gives a nod to the past, will start being worn by the team next season.

Mike Thomas (6) owner of the Everett Royals, shares a laugh after practice at Archbishop Murphy High School on February 2, 2022 in Everett, Washington. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Everett’s new arena football team announces owners, coach

The franchise had been shrouded in mystery since the league announced it was relaunching in April.

Washington's Sami Reynolds bats during a Women's College World Series game this past June in Oklahoma City. (UW Athletics photo)
The Herald’s 2022-23 Woman of the Year in Sports: Sami Reynolds

The Snohomish grad capped an outstanding five-year career with an All-American season and one of the biggest moments in UW history.

Vote for The Herald’s Prep Athlete of the Week for Sept. 18-24

The Athlete of the Week nominees for Sept. 18-24. Voting closes at… Continue reading

Prep roundup for Tuesday, Sept. 26

Prep roundup for Tuesday, Sept. 26: (Note for coaches/scorekeepers: To report results… Continue reading

The 1987 Cascade boys soccer team poses for a photo in front of the Space Needle in Seattle. (County Sports Hall of Fame photo)
County Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2023 bio: 1987 Cascade boys soccer

The 1987 Cascade boys soccer team won the AAA title and kicked off a run of five straight appearances in the state title game.

Arlington’s Caleb Reed is thrown into the air by lineman Dylan Scott after scoring a touchdown against Ferndale on Friday, Sept. 22, 2023, at Arlington High School in Arlington, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Prep football power rankings after Week 4

Here are our top 8 local teams after all the action from Friday and Saturday.

Monroe’s Mason Davis (1) celebrates with Trent Bublitz (11) after Bublitz’s touchdown reception against Edmonds-Woodway on Friday, Oct. 14, 2022, at Edmonds School District Stadium in Edmonds, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Reader poll: Make your picks for Week 5 prep football games

Do you think you can beat the experts in our weekly high… Continue reading

Most Read