Mike Holmgren heads to the great unknown
At a Tuesday news conference punctuated by humor and tears, Mike Holmgren made his last official appearance as Seahawks head coach. But he also noted he would be surprised if he never coached again.
Seattle Times staff columnist
RENTON — Before this journey began, after he had graduated from USC, Mike Holmgren was working on a ship in Hawaii.
"I was just floating around, a no-direction-type person," he said Tuesday afternoon.
His father Lincoln, a real-estate agent, wanted his son to join him in the business. Holmgren had majored in real estate. He took the exam and then it hit him.
"I can't imagine that I want to do this," Holmgren thought.
His father told him, "Do what you want to do."
To the great benefit of all of us — players, assistant coaches, personnel staff, office staff, fans, sportswriters — who have enjoyed our time with him over this last decade, Holmgren listened to his father. He chose football over real estate.
He became a living lesson of the value of hard work.
Holmgren, 60, made it to the top of his profession the old-fashioned way, hitting all the stops from high-school coach, college assistant, NFL assistant, offensive coordinator, head coach.
"I enjoyed the young kids in the beginning," Holmgren said Tuesday, at the last of his farewell news conferences. "And I've enjoyed the big kids now."
Holmgren has a few pieces of unfinished business at Hawks headquarters, but Tuesday's news conference was his last official act as head coach.
Now he begins what he calls "life without an alarm clock." And the franchise begins its life without Holmgren.
"I love this organization," Holmgren said. "That chapter is kind of closed. A new chapter's going on. ... I'm looking at this as a big adventure."
All of us are.
He scripts the first 15 plays of every game, but Holmgren couldn't script his exit. His last Seahawks team was his worst, finishing 4-12.
In separate meetings Monday with his players and staff, he emphasized the freakishness of this season, telling them, "What happened this year, as far as the wins and losses, it shouldn't happen again, because no one will get injured like we got injured this year. This hasn't happened to me in 25 years, and it isn't going to happen again."
But too often this season, the healthy players didn't lead. They couldn't find a way, like the New England Patriots did, to win despite the epic injury toll. And Holmgren emphasized accountability to the players.
"If you think the injuries were the only reason our record was what it was," Holmgren told his players, "then we're making a huge mistake. Injuries were absolutely a factor, absolutely. But it wasn't the only factor.
"I've always said that to get to the Super Bowl and to get to the playoffs and do all of those things, your best players have to have great years. The guys that are pulling everybody else with them have to have outstanding years.
"The players look to them. The coaches rely on them. And that didn't happen this year. And so, the [players] are going to be looking at that hard. But the team, they'll be good next year. There's no question in my mind they're going to have a good year next year."
In this final meeting with the media, Holmgren tamped any potential sources of controversy. He minimized any problems he might have had with the front office. He was honest without being effusive.
It was a politically correct farewell address.
He was charming and funny and reflective, as he has been at every news conference since he came to Seattle a decade ago. But there were gaps in this goodbye, unanswered questions about his future.
As for his future, Holmgren, who has been replaced by Jim Mora, honestly can't predict it. But he said he would be surprised if he never again coached in the NFL.
"It's hard for me to think, right now, I couldn't do it again," he said. "But we'll see how this works. I'm going to listen and try to make an intelligent decision if the time ever presents itself. But I'm under no illusion about that. There are no guarantees."
Holmgren will be back. Not next season, but probably in 2010. Some team wanting to make a splash will understand the treasure trove he represents.
He talked Tuesday like a man who believes he has one last great run left in him.
"At this stage of my life, I don't want to be disappointed by anything," he said. "The point is, I really want to enjoy the rest of my life. I'm trying really hard to set it up the right way."
Late in the news conference, Holmgren stopped at the end of a sentence and, for a brief moment, fought back the emotions that repeatedly have roiled inside of him these past couple of weeks.
"There's no crying in football," he said.
But there is profound sadness when a coach this good, who did so much for this franchise, walks out of a room for the last time.
Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company
email@example.com | 206-464-2176
UPDATE - 9:02 PM
Steve Kelley: What happened to the once-scary Huskies?
When vice president of Sub Pop Records Megan Jasper isn't running things at the office, she's working in her garden at her West Seattle home where she and her husband Brian spend time relaxing.
I've been fortunate to have traveled the world: Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia. Exotic islands, too. Wherever I go, I'm struck by one undeniable trut...
Post a comment