Before John Schneider and Reggie McKenzie became the general managers of the Seahawks and Raiders, they shared an office in Green Bay for five years as scouts for the Packers on Ron Wolf’s staff.
Tonight, these former officemates will watch their respective teams close the preseason against one another at CenturyLink Field. But this reunion of sorts never would have happened if Wolf, then-executive VP/general manager, had not taken a chance on each way back when – 1992 for Schneider, when he was a summer intern while still attending the University of St. Thomas; 1994 for McKenzie, after his NFL career had ended.
“Ron,” Schneider said, shaking his head and cracking a smile, “talk about a great mentor. He gave us both an opportunity like that. Ron was really just an unbelievable guy to learn from, and Reggie and I just learned so much from him about work ethic, and never ever being complacent with your team at all, and never stop asking questions during the draft process.
“We learned so much from him.”
As much as they gleaned from Wolf, Schneider and McKenzie also learned from each other.
“Reggie kind of helped me out with learning players and how to handle players, and I kind of helped him out with evaluating and writing reports,” Schneider said. “It was a great fit.”
One of the best pieces of advice Wolf gave Schneider was “get out and grow.” Knowing how to do things the Wolf way – the Packers’ way – was fine. Seeing how the rest of the league works was even better. That’s what brought Schneider to the Seahawks the first time, as director of player personnel in 2000; after he had worked with the Chiefs from 1997-99, and before going to the Redskins in 2001.
“It was great advice,” Schneider said. “Going to Kansas City, then here and then Washington, it was awesome.”
Then it was back to Green Bay in 2002, as first a personnel analyst to the GM and then director of football operations, before he rejoined the Seahawks in 2010. McKenzie remained with the Packers, being elevated to director of player personnel and then director of football operations, until the Raiders went looking for someone to run their show after the death of Al Davis.
There’s even a Wolf connection with that move, because Wolf also had worked for the Raiders before going to Green Bay. And … wait for it … Wolf drafted McKenzie while with the Raiders.
“Now Reggie is ‘the Raider guy,’ ” Schneider said. “You can’t get much more Raider than Reggie, and he’s doing a good job putting in a new system. It was the perfect fit for Reggie to go in there.”
This small world intersects at CenturyLink Field tonight, as two members of the Wolf Pack will be on display – along with the teams they’ve helped assemble with all those lessons learned from Wolf.
“Reggie and I are totally indebted to Ron for giving us the opportunity,” Schneider said.