Mike Holmgren will not rejoin the Seahawks
The team released a statement saying the former coach has declined an offer for a senior leadership position.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Mike Holmgren will not be returning to the Seahawks.
The shocking twist? It was his decision.
He turned down what was described in a statement from the team as a "senior leadership" position.
"Mike has declined our offer to rejoin the team given the structure we proposed," Seahawks CEO Tod Leiweke said in the statement released Saturday evening.
The position Holmgren turned down was team president, the same title Tim Ruskell vacated when he resigned two weeks ago.
Why? That's the question that will have both the Seahawks and the city of Seattle scratching their heads as the franchise resumes its search for a new head of football operations.
Saturday was the sudden conclusion to a convoluted courtship.
For the past two weeks, the Seahawks remained publicly silent regarding Holmgren, which was interpreted as a lack of interest on the team's part. Meanwhile, Holmgren said on his weekly radio show on KJR-AM that he "absolutely" wanted to talk to owner Paul Allen or Leiweke regarding the position.
Over the last six days, Holmgren moved closer to accepting an offer to run the Cleveland Browns, while Seattle remained committed to a process of evaluating the franchise and compiling potential candidates.
With Cleveland needing an answer, the Seahawks and Holmgren had a last-minute meeting that seemed to be progressing toward a reunion until hitting a dead end as sudden as it was final.
"I sincerely thank Paul Allen and Tod for all their support over the years," Holmgren said in the statement released by the Seahawks. "I thank them for reaching out to me and we conclude these discussions as friends."
And with that, an NFL icon will exit Seattle. Holmgren coached 10 years for the Seahawks, the first four also acting as team president. He made the playoffs in six of his 10 seasons and took the franchise to its first Super Bowl in 2005.
Now, all signs point toward his departure for Ohio. The Cleveland Plain-Dealer reported Saturday night Holmgren is expected to give the Browns a decision by Monday.
Seattle will resume its search for a new president. Interim general manager Ruston Webster is the only other candidate publicly identified so far.
So what happened between Holmgren and the Seahawks in the 24 hours before Saturday's announcement?
That wasn't immediately clear. Holmgren and Leiweke were not available for comment beyond the statement released by the team, and Holmgren's agent, Bob Lamonte, did not return messages on his cellphone.
Money may have been a factor. It's believed Cleveland's offer was more than Seattle's.
Another obstacle may have been the organizational structure. In Cleveland, Holmgren would report directly to owner Randy Lerner, and he referred to the fact that there were "no layers" as a selling point on his radio show Friday.
In Seattle, Leiweke is the CEO of Vulcan Sports, the company that oversees Allen's holdings, but that wouldn't seem to be that much an obstacle. Holmgren repeatedly praised Leiweke while he was the Seahawks' coach, going so far as saying that Leiweke was the best thing to happen to the franchise.
It may have come down to the degree of autonomy. Cleveland offered Holmgren carte blanche with regard to the franchise, from the personnel decisions to the coach.
Would he have had the same latitude in Seattle? That is a question, as at the announcement of Ruskell's resignation, Leiweke expressed a desire to maintain the existing framework of the franchise, and that included coach Jim Mora.
"We're not going to join them," Leiweke said. "They're going to join us."
On Saturday, Holmgren turned down Seattle's invitation.
Danny O'Neil: 206-464-2364 or email@example.com
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