Renton – What else can you ask the guy? Seattle’s Mike Holmgren has been under the klieg lights answering questions about his impending departure since the Seattle Seahawks kicked off his final season as head coach in July.
Still, Holmgren showed the patience and reserved demeanor that became his hallmarks in a decade as the Seahawks’ coach. Holmgren answered reporters’ questions for nearly an hour in his final press conference, while team president Tim Ruskell and CEO Tod Leiweke remained in the back of the room.
Not much new was revealed while Holmgren held court Tuesday at the team’s practice facility.
Holmgren has the urge to coach again, but is staying true to his plan to take a year off and spend time with wife Kathy and the rest of his family.
“I am looking forward to this time,” he said. “I need this time. And in fairness to Kathy and my family, certainly they deserve this time. So that’s what we’re doing.”
He thinks he can be successful simultaneously holding the head coach and general manager positions, even though the latest person to do that in the NFL, Denver’s Mike Shanahan, was fired on Tuesday after finishing 8-8 and missing the playoffs.
“Once you’ve had a little taste of the fine wine, it’s hard to get the ones where you screw off the cap,” Holmgren said, describing his zest to be GM again. “But I don’t think I’m the Lone Ranger that way.
“Please understand this. When I had the responsibility of making the final call or if Tim (Ruskell) has the responsibility of making the final call, or Ron Wolf had the responsibility in Green Bay to make the final call, or Bill Walsh in San Francisco, the actual decision that takes place, there is a lot of information by a lot of people funneling into one guy’s chair.”
Holmgren said he will miss Seahawks fans and the electric atmosphere he helped create at Qwest Field. Most of all, he will miss the special relationships he had with his players. The only time Holmgren had to stop and compose himself was when he talked about his final conversations with some longtime Seahawks players.
“There wasn’t a lot that needed to be said,” Holmgren offered when asked how the conversations went, his voice trailing off as he tried to control his emotions.
The best offensive player he ever coached? Not Joe Montana, Brett Favre or Steve Young, Holmgren said. It was Walter Jones. And Holmgren said the best defensive player he coached was Reggie White.
Holmgren also talked about the state of the team, remaining steadfast that the Seahawks will be good again next year. The Seahawks fell quickly this season because of injuries, he said, notably to wide receivers and offensive linemen. However, he told his players that was only part of the reason for their 4-12 record.
“If you think that was the only reason that our record was what it was, then we’re making a huge mistake,” he said he told them.
Holmgren later said in order to get to the Super Bowl and have success in the playoffs your best players have to have their best years, and that didn’t happen for Seattle this season
Responding to reports that he had conversations with NBC about broadcasting during the playoffs, Holmgren said he has no plans to do so this postseason.
He also addressed the subject of new coach Jim Mora.
“He has great enthusiasm and he’s a great teacher,” he said. “And to me, when I’ve hired coaches over the years, those are the things I looked at first.”
Holmgren went on to say Mora has a great work ethic, is a good communicator and loves Seattle, where he played in college at UW.
Mora will have his first meeting with team staff on Monday, when coaching duties are handed over to him. Holmgren said he doesn’t plan to be there, but will take a week or so to gather his things and then head off to Arizona.
Among his proudest achievements as general manager, Holmgren mentioned the Joey Galloway trade to Dallas, which brought the Seahawks two first-round draft picks. One of those became Shaun Alexander. Holmgren also mentioned the trade bringing Matt Hasselbeck to Seattle, which also gave Seattle a first-round pick that ended up being Steve Hutchinson.
“Maybe not everyone would have messed up, but I messed up,” Holmgren said about his time as general manager. “But I did learn. I don’t think I made the same mistake twice. And I think we did some good things there.”