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Holmgren ponders the future

Discussion in 'All Other Team Discussions' started by Heatherthepackgirl, Jan 11, 2008.

  1. Heatherthepackgirl

    Heatherthepackgirl Cheesehead

    Nov 22, 2005
    Posted: Jan. 8, 2008

    Kirkland, Wash. - It doesn't seem that long ago that Mike Holmgren was on the sideline coaching the Green Bay Packers in the playoffs.

    Memories may linger but time doesn't and the calendar says Holmgren has been head coach of the Seattle Seahawks for nine seasons, two more than he was coach of the Packers. When he accepted the job with Green Bay in 1992, he was a mere 43 years old; as he coaches the Seahawks into the playoffs this season, he's approaching 60.

    Depending on with whom you speak, Holmgren is either coaching his last season or gearing up for a contract extension that will keep him rolling well into his 60s. There has been considerable speculation about his future, particularly in light of his longer-than-normal pondering about whether to return.

    For about the last five years, Holmgren has been taking time off to contemplate with his wife, Kathy, his future as a head coach. He has not reached Brett Favre proportions in dragging the decision out, but deciding whether his battery can recharge enough to get him through the season has taken time.

    And it's going to take time again after this season.

    There was considerable speculation that if the Seahawks had lost to Washington in their wild-card game Saturday, Holmgren would have been out the door. Two longtime associates of Holmgren's predicted this week that this would be his last season regardless of what transpires in the playoffs.

    As Favre has done in recent years, Holmgren will make his decision once the dust settles from the 2007 season and an objective assessment can be made about the future. As certain as some are that he'll retire, others aren't buying it.

    "He won't," said assistant head coach/offensive coordinator Gil Haskell, one of Holmgren's closest friends. "He's only 59. He's been doing it for a long time but it's going good. This is the best defense we've had since we've been here. That makes a difference.

    "There was talk about him in San Francisco (as general manager), but they hired (former Seahawks personnel man Scot) McCloughan. He's a coach. That's what he does. He's a very, very, very good coach."

    Seahawks general manager Tim Ruskell said any discussion of Holmgren's future would come after the season. He said he fully expected Holmgren to approach the future the way he always does and to give him a decision not long after the season ends.

    There are a multitude of reasons for Holmgren to return, not the least of which is the financial security he enjoys. It is well known around NFL circles that Holmgren is the highest-paid coach in the game, making well more than $8 million a year on a contract that expires after the 2008 season.

    Behind the scenes, his agent, Bob LaMonte, might be pushing for a contract extension, hoping that all of the speculation surrounding Holmgren's future might drive up the price of business. But there is no hard evidence of that.

    Besides the money, Holmgren has a team that has made the playoffs three straight years, nearly won a Super Bowl two years ago and is threatening to make a long run this year. And perhaps as important as anything is having a veteran quarterback in Matt Hasselbeck, who at age 32 is still going strong.

    He would be abandoning a pretty good situation.

    "We have a good football team," Haskell said. "If we didn't have a quarterback, it would make a difference."

    Holmgren's view of things isn't much different but his consideration is personal. His 16 consecutive years in the top position are longer than any active coach in the NFL and each year he has to challenge himself in new ways.

    In discussing his view on why it's hard for some players to leave the game, Holmgren related the question to coaching.

    "It does take a toll on you," he said this week. "You have to think about that. Then, (it's) what do I do? Where will I go? Who will I talk to? What does the future bring after that, in all honesty?

    "I think when you think of all those things, that's why coaches make the decisions they make. Some choose to stay. Some choose to go. Some choose to stay for the wrong reasons, in my opinion. You might even leave for the wrong reasons."

    Holmgren said he required his assistant coaches to find ways to improve through different methods every season. He does not want to run the same drills or give the same speeches every year. Given that many of his assistants have been with him since his Green Bay days, it's easy to see how things could get stale.

    As the conclusion of another season approaches, his ability to stay focused mentally will be part of the discussion. If he can't come up with a fresh approach to the job, then he said he'll know it's time.

    "I really make an effort to not say the same things all the time," Holmgren said. "That's hard. You have to think about it. And if you find yourself doing that too much, then I think that's a little bit of an indicator that, 'C'mon.' It's not fair to the players, it's not fair to the owner and it's not fair to the organization."

    The Seahawks will wait to see if it's that time.

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