KIRKLAND - Tom Flores has been fired as coach and general manager of the Seattle Seahawks.
Flores told his staff of 12 coaches this morning that he had been fired and that they also had lost their jobs. Then he walked into the media room at Seahawk headquarters and told the press he was out. "I will no longer be associated with the Seahawks other than in spirit, I guess," he said.
No successor for Flores as coach or general manager has been named. Bill Walsh, former San Francisco 49er and Stanford coach, has confirmed that he talked with Seahawk owners. Walsh might be brought on as a consultant or in a front-office position, but is not expected to return to coaching.
Dennis Erickson, University of Miami coach, has been mentioned frequently as an NFL coaching candidate, though he has strongly denied any interest this week while his team is preparing for the Orange Bowl. Erickson is an Everett native and former Washington State University head coach.
Another Seahawk coaching candidate, 49er offensive coordinator Mike Shanahan, may more likely become Denver's coach.
Meanwhile, the Broncos announced in Denver that Wade Phillips had been fired as head coach in a press conference hours after the Seahawk announcement but made no mention of a successor. Shanahan, who lasted 20 games as Raider coach from '88 to '89, has spent seven of the past 11 seasons with Denver.
One report that Walsh might try to hire Shanahan if Walsh joined the Seahawks drew an angry response from 49er President Carmen Policy. Policy told the San Jose Mercury News yesterday that he intended to send NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue newspaper clippings to remind Tagliabue of the NFL's anti-tampering policy.
Flores said he got the news last night in a telephone call from owner Ken Behring and his son David Behring. "I'm not angry at anybody," said Flores, 57. "I feel badly for all my coaches and their families. I really do because they are affected and they worked hard to try to get this team to where I think it is. Somebody is going to come in and enjoy a pretty good football team, and we won't be around to enjoy it."
Flores, who joined the Seahawks as general manager in 1989, compiled a 14-34 record in three seasons as head coach in Seattle. Attendance dropped to an all-time low this season, including the two smallest crowds ever for non-strike games - 37,466 for Tampa Bay and 39,574 for Indianapolis. The team has finished in the five-team division basement all three seasons but was hammered by injuries this season, leading the NFL in players on injured reserve. By season's end, the Seahawks had lost nine starters to injury.
In a dozen seasons as an NFL head coach, Flores has a record of 105-90, including a 97-87 regular-season mark. He got his 100th coaching victory this season.
The Seahawks were 6-10 for the second straight year after going a franchise-worst 2-14 in 1992 after Flores took over when Chuck Knox was fired.
Ken Behring, the Seahawks' principal owner since August 1988, made Flores the team's president and general manager in February 1989 after Mike McCormack's contract was not renewed by Behring.
Seahawk defensive coordinator Rusty Tillman, an assistant for 16 seasons, has made it clear in recent years that he wants to be an NFL head coach anywhere in the league. He is likely to at least get an interview. The list of other candidates includes defensive coordinators Tony Dungy of Minnesota, Dom Capers of Pittsburgh, Butch Davis of Dallas and Ray Rhodes of San Francisco.
In addition to Tillman, other coaches who lost their jobs today were offensive coordinator Larry Kennan, and Tommy Brasher, Bob Bratkowski, Dave Brown, Tom Catlin, Paul Moyer, Howard Mudd, Russ Purnell, Frank Raines and Clarence Shelmon.