When Seattle Seahawks executive vice president/general manager John Schneider popped in the video of the Chiefs’ recent home game against the New York Jets, the memories of his days at Arrowhead Stadium came rushing back.
The crowd. The noise. The red jerseys. The result.
“It sounded just like it did in ’97 … it was super loud, the place was rocking,” said Schneider, who spent 1997-99 as the Chiefs director of pro personnel.
Schneider’s time with the Chiefs bridged his formative years in the Green Bay Packers scouting department (1992-96) and front office (2000, 2002-09) before his defining years with Seattle since 2010, capped by last season’s Super Bowl triumph.
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So when the Seahawks visit the Chiefs for a noon game Sunday at Arrowhead, it will mark a confluence of Schneider’s career.
It will evoke the days of working for Carl Peterson and Marty Schottenheimer in Kansas City and toiling alongside current Chiefs general manager John Dorsey during Schneider’s three tours of duty in Green Bay.
Schneider and Dorsey were two young up-and-comers in the Green Bay Packers scouting department in 1992 when Dorsey was 32 and in his second year as a college scout, and Schneider was a 21-year-old college intern.
“John was like a big brother,” Schneider recalled. “There was a frankness and bluntness to the conversations. They’re like family discussions …that’s pretty fun. We were around incredible people, great role models … the coaching staff Mike Holmgren put together and being around (then-general manager) Ron Wolf …”
No job was too big or two small when it came to scouting and evaluating talent.
“I remember sitting there after a draft meeting,” Dorsey recalled. “You had a big old box of VHS and beta tapes. One Friday night, Wolf said, ‘Boys, I want that box done by tomorrow.’ So Schneider and I stayed there until about 3 in the morning, we did every tape in that box, and we found one guy.”
That one guy turned out to be Travis Jervey, who the Packers took in the fifth round of the 1995 draft from The Citadel and spent four years in Green Bay and five more seasons in the NFL.
Dorsey’s scouting acumen would help the Packers to Super Bowls in 1996 and 1997, including one championship, and he rose to the club’s Director of Football Operations before taking over as general manager of the Chiefs in 2013.
Both Dorsey and Schneider construct their teams with similar principles they learned in Green Bay. Strong running game. Big cornerbacks. Fearsome pass rush. And build through the draft, not with flashy free agents.
“A lot of people throughout the league are looking for the same thing,” Schneider said. “A lot of people like big corners, big receivers … probably the most common theme is it never stops. You’re constantly searching for the next thing, trying to improve in every aspect of what you’re doing.
“That’s what we learned from Ron that it truly never stops.”
Indeed, since Schneider became the Seattle general manager in 2010, the club turned over the roster, totaling more than 800 transactions in putting together the eventual Super Bowl champion. A year ago, 23 players who were unable to crack the Seahawks’ 53-man roster were signed by other teams, including Chiefs cornerback Ron Parker and defensive lineman Jaye Howard.
“We’re just in year two,” Dorsey said, “and it takes a while to build thing. They’ve done a great job. They won the world championship, and they hit on some draft picks, and that’s what you need to do. John was aggressive to go out and get some free agents where he needs to be fit in there. And he and Pete (Carroll) have a great working relationship.”
Carroll, who carries the title of Executive VP of Football Operations, has final say on the 53-man roster, but Schneider provides the talent to choose from. Seattle’s roster has 24 players taken in the draft since 2007, four unrestricted free agents and one major player, running back Marshawn Lynch, who was acquired in a trade.
“You look at every single option that’s there until you exhaust it,” Carroll said. “You may never make a move but you still work through it. That mentality gives you a chance because you’re always competing. Also, the commitment to young players … John Schneider came to me with that same thought. We hit that in harmony.
“I’m sure (the Chiefs) are working the same thing with the draft just looking at how De’Anthony’s (Thomas) been a part of it and how (their) guys have been able to fit in. I think that’s similar.”
Schneider’s time in Kansas City with Peterson and Schottenheimer (whom he joined for a year in Washington in 2001) served him well, too.
“Their influence was definitely the toughness, the grittiness, that type of football player … the mental toughness …” Schneider said. “I learned a lot of great lessons there. We had a very physical football team. We had (cornerbacks) Dale Carter and James Hasty … we put pressure on the quarterback with Derrick Thomas …
“Tony Gonzalez was there. … It was a fun three years there, I was 25 years old and I was director of pro personnel … it’s a humbling business. When you’re at that age, you think you have all the answers, too, and I learned a ton in those three years.”
Chiefs coach Andy Reid was also a mentor of Schneider’s when Reid coached the Green Bay offensive line and tight ends in the early 1990s.
“I’d sit in his office, and talk about the tight end position, and what he was looking for, what he liked and didn’t like,” Schneider said. “I learned a lot from Andy. I knew he was going to be an outstanding head coach.”