For a few members of the Seattle Seahawks organization, this Sunday will be kind of like going home for the holidays.
Except for two things:
1. The holidays are pretty much over; and,
2. In the words of Seahawks team president Tim Ruskell: “This is a business trip.”
So much for warm and fuzzy reunions.
Ruskell, vice president of player personnel Ruston Webster and defensive tackle Chartric Darby started their careers with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the team the Seahawks face in a regular season-ending road game on Sunday. Wide receiver Darrell Jackson, whose availability is in question because of a toe injury, grew up in Tampa and was a star at Catholic High School.
“We have to go in there trying to win a game, so that will be the overriding thing,” said Ruskell, who grew up in Tampa and eventually worked 17 years in the Buccaneers’ organization. “But if I get a chance to see those people, and I will, that will be enjoyable.”
Ruskell’s wife and children are going down early this week to spend time with family members. He’ll also spend some time with relatives – sisters Carol and Judy still live in the area – but has work-related tasks to fill most of his weekend. In addition to Sunday’s game between the Seahawks and Buccaneers, Ruskell will scout college players during practices for three different bowl games around the area.
“This is a business trip all the way,” he said. “I’ll see family at night, but we’ve got a chance to go to a place where a lot of teams are practicing and playing and get a first-hand look at (future draft picks).”
Darby is also excited to step into his past, but he’s not losing sight of the ultimate goal.
“That’s where it all started for me. It’ll be fun to go down there and see some familiar faces,” said Darby, whose first four NFL seasons came as a Tampa Bay Buccaneer. “But I’m really going down there for one reason, and that’s to get a win.”
Darby is still close to several Tampa Bay players, including linebacker Derrick Brooks and defensive tackle Ellis Wyms, but he’s not going to let his relationships affect his intensity.
“I’m looking forward to shaking their hands,” he said. “But more than anything, I’ve got to go down there and get a win.”
Two players Ruskell is especially excited to see are Brooks and cornerback Ronde Barber. He scouted and drafted both while working with the Bucs.
“I’m so proud of those guys for what they’ve done,” Ruskell said. “Especially Ronde; a third-round pick, that just doesn’t happen. They were everything we hoped for, and more, when I was there, and they’ve continued to be that for them.
“It will be good to shake their hands and tell them how proud I am of what they’ve done. But if they could ease up for one day, that would be a nice little Christmas present for their old buddy.”