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Mailbag: Balancing need and risk

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Brian from North Vancouver, B.C., writes: Koren Robinson still has talent and Mike Holmgren seemed willing to have him when the Seahawks were looking for receivers, yet the GM overruled him. Don't you think Holmgren should have had his way here? He knows who he needs?

Mike Sando: I see both sides. I think the situation at receiver was probably desperate enough to warrant taking a look at Robinson.

If I'm team president Tim Ruskell, though, I'm worried about signing a guy with known problems and then being responsible if those problems cause damage within the community. Robinson blew a pair of .191s before Ruskell released him in 2005. Robinson squandered multiple second chances when he was a Seahawk.


Matt from Scottsdale, Ariz., writes: Hey Sando, do you have a favorite team? I know you said you grew up in California and attended 49er games as a kid but more recently you've lived in Seattle and covered the Seahawks. Do you find yourself cheering for certain teams? Or would that unprofessional and interfere with your journalistic integrity?

Mike Sando: Yes, rooting would be pretty unprofessional, and a waste of energies. It's one reason I'm reluctant to pick scores on games. I like being right, and I never want to be invested in an outcome.

I was a hard-core fan for years before covering the NFL for a living. Since you asked, and since I think fans appreciate transparency, I'll give you a little background.

I did grow up in Northern California. My father had gone to high school in Southern California, so the L.A. Rams were a team he and my grandfather followed. I was a Rams fan in the late 1970s and rooted hard for the Rams against the Steelers in the Super Bowl. I was not quite 10 years old at the time.

As I got a little older, I gravitated toward the Raiders and became a die-hard fan through the 1980s and well into the 1990s. I even went in on season tickets with an old neighbor, despite not living in California any longer. I kept my ticket for three years and flew to games from out of state in 1995, 1996 and 1997. No one could question my fan credentials. Those were some mediocre-to-awful teams for the most part. Poor Jeff Hostetler.

I started covering the Seahawks in 1998 and really threw myself into the job, to the point that I had no time for anything else. My fan allegiances died from neglect. This was true for the teams I followed in other sports as well. There just wasn't time for that any more.

I still have great memories of old teams, games and since-retired players. But the job became my passion at the expense of being a fan. The things I had found important as a fan drove my interests on the beat. I loved and still love being able to provide the type of information I would have wanted as a fan.


Brad from New Castle, Pa., writes: i've been hearing and reading on alot of articles lately that people are saying if scott linehan doesnt win against the giants this weekend, there's no way he keeps his job for the rest of the season, i however don't believe this, i feel he can afford a loss, just not like at philly. If the rams can stay in contention for at least 3 quarters, and actually score an offensive td, linehan can afford to lose this game. To be honest, if he can show improvement over last season, even if he ends with like a 6-10 record, i can realistically see him keeping his job for next season, as long as from here on out the in the losses the rams were even semi-competetive. your thoughts?
Mike Sando: Two games aren't enough. The Rams do need to be more competitive, and eventually they must win games. Scott Linehan faces a tough situation here. He's got the oldest team in the league and poor depth. Long term, I could see this team getting worse before it gets better. And if that is the case, the timing might not be right for the current head coach. But there's little advantage in firing a guy after two games.


Jeffrey from Salem, Ore., writes: Seattle's front office seems to be seeing things from a different perspective than the rest of the NFL.
We lost [Steve] Hutchinson because we refused to give him the franchise tag, completely missing the escalating market from premier offensive linemen.

I've always thought that a first round pick for [Deion] Branch was too high, considering he played his best in the playoffs and at a lesser level during the regular season - and the market price for receivers has been significantly lower than what we paid.

With our team hit pretty hard by injuries, we keep an extra kicker - who isn't going to see the field. In my opinion, the only reason [Justin] Forsett was inactive during the Buffalo game was that our front office realized his value and hoped to sneak him through the waiver wires once they released him.

Keeping an extra kicker on an injury ravaged roster... using the transition tag instead of franchise tag on one of the best interior linemen in the game... over-paying for a good (not great) receiver... Taken one at a time, the moves are questionable. Is Forsett the latest example of Seattle's front office making questionable moves when it comes to personnel decisions or are we all reading too much into this?

Mike Sando: There's something about a disappointing performance in a season opener that seems to highlight past failures.

The Seahawks have lost their top four receivers to injuries. That is a freak situation. Few teams would function very well with that level of attrition.

You make strong points. I think it's important to acknowledge some of the good things, too. Every organization makes mistakes. Seattle has done quite a bit right in recent seasons.

It's fair to criticize the Seahawks for keeping two kickers while waiving a promising running back. I wouldn't list that situation alongside those involving a potential Hall of Fame guard and a Super Bowl MVP receiver.