Seahawks GM John Schneider's advice on how to make it in football

Posted by: Chris Vannini on Wednesday June 15, 2016


Seahawks general manager John Schneider has seen a lot of success in his short time in Seattle. How did he get his start in the profession? With a simple phone call.

Schneider has been with the Seahawks since 2010, putting together a Super Bowl team and another NFC title team. But back in the early 1990s, he retired from football at the University of St. Thomas (MN) after one year due to injuries. He then did whatever he could to stay in the game, so he reached out to then-Packers GM Ron Wolf.

“When Ron was hired, it was a big deal. I remember reading an article that he wrote Al Davis a letter when he got out of the Army and wanted to work for Al,” Schneider said on Peter Schrager’s podcast. “Shoot, I’ll try the same thing. I sat down, crafted a letter. He responded with rejection. It was definitely a standard rejection reply. So I sent him another one, ‘Thank you for the rejection letter.’ I probably sent him three letters.”

Then, another strategy.

“I read an article that Bob Harlan, who was the president of the Packers at the time and Ron Wolf both actually picked up their own phones and returned calls,” Schneider said. “So Memorial Day weekend, I’m with one of my best friends and he’s like, ‘Why don’t you just call him?’ I forget how I got the number.

“It was Sunday of Memorial Day weekend. This tells you how hard of a worker Ron was. I called and thought I was going to leave a message. He picked up the phone and was watching film. We started talking. It was a five-hour drive from Minneapolis to Green Bay. He was like, ‘When could you get down here?’ A five-hour drive, I could probably get there in about four. Went down there for an interview.”

Schneider was hired as an intern, which he worked while still finishing up school.

“I was just going to use it like a Master’s program," he said. "I was not going to let anybody outwork me. I was always going to be there as much as I could and soak up what I could from the incredible staff.”

That staff included the likes of Mike Holmgren, Steve Mariucci, Todd Bowles, Andy Reid, Jon Gruden, Marty Mornhinweg, Dick Jauron and Ray Rhodes.

Schneider knows it’s a lot harder to get started in today’s game. The chances of calling up an NFL GM and getting an internship are slim to none. But the lessons he learned from his journey still apply.

“Prayer, perseverance and patience,” he said. “I’m not the most patient person. Relying on your faith and your work ethic. You’re not the smartest guy in the room. You have to outwork everybody. You have to go above and beyond.

“It’s different now. Guys have their Master’s, holy smokes, I wouldn’t have been qualified at all. I was a history major and secondary education major, and I dropped the secondary education so I could get back to my internship with the Packers. So many people are so qualified now.

It’s very hard to get your opportunity, but I tell interns all the time, once you get your opportunity, you have to make the most of it. Why would you leave the building? Either people have that or they don’t. There’s really no middle ground.” 

Chris Vannini is in his fifth year with CoachingSearch.com and serves as its managing editor. He has previously written for the Detroit Free Press, The Oakland Press, The State News, MLive.com, 247Sports and SB Nation.  A graduate of Michigan State University, Chris now lives in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.  Be sure to follow @coachingsearch and send emails to chris@coachingsearch.com.