Holmgren weighing offer from Cleveland
BEREA, Ohio — Mike Holmgren looked for houses during his recent trip to Cleveland, which may soon be his new NFL home.
Terming a chance to assume control of the struggling but tradition-rich Browns as "very, very appealing," Holmgren said Friday that he's weighing owner Randy Lerner's job offer and intends to give Cleveland a decision on his future "sooner than later."
As for Seattle, Holmgren may have finally said goodbye.
The Super Bowl-winning coach, who spent two days meeting with Lerner earlier this week, said during his radio show on Seattle's KJR that he liked everything he learned about the Browns during a two-day "fact-finding" visit. The former coach of the Seahawks and Green Bay Packers sounded as if he's leaning toward accepting a chance to rebuild the Browns, who have been devoid of anyone of Holmgren's clout since returning to the league in 1999.
Holmgren praised Lerner and the Browns' organization. He complimented embattled coach Eric Mangini. He said he hasn't had much time to study quarterback Brady Quinn, but would be eager to.
About the only thing Holmgren didn't say about the Browns was: I accept.
"It's a wonderful opportunity for anybody," Holmgren said. "It's about as good a job situation as you could ask for in this business."
The 61-year-old Holmgren did not rule out a return to coaching. When asked if a potential job in Cleveland would encompass team president, general manager or coaching, he said, "it would be any and all, I would say."
"Exactly how the setup will be regarding me, that's something I'm still thinking about," said Holmgren, who won a title with the Packers and led the Seahawks to their only Super Bowl appearance. "It's my obligation to let the Browns know when I'm thinking that way. There is a bit of a timetable we're working on right now. I wanted time to come back and think about it, talk to some people about it, and that's where we are right now.
Holmgren gave no indication when he'll give the Browns his decision, and said he is not using the team to get a job elsewhere.
"I'm not trying to leverage anybody or do anything like that," he said.
Holmgren wants to talk to the Seahawks about returning to the team he coached for 10 years. But to this point, Seattle is not showing the same interest.
He said he has not been contacted by anyone from the organization since GM Tim Ruskell resigned Dec. 3. Holmgren said he has been approached by at least one other team, but it wasn't the Seahawks, the team he led to its greatest successes in a 10-year span.
Seattle has yet to begin its formal search to replace Ruskell. The club has not told Holmgren he is not in their plans, and he indicated they may be running out of time.
"I'm very sure that the organization wants to go through a thorough process. That's been made pretty clear," he said. "But there is a little bit of a time crunch here with Cleveland and with some other folks."
Holmgren has been criticized for campaigning to return to the Seahawks, a charge he finds amusing.
"When you say campaign it denotes I made posters, had people walking around," he said. "Look, I don't think it's a big secret that I would like to be considered for a position with the Seahawks. I devoted 10 years of my life to try to make the team good. My family is in Seattle and Seattle is my home. There would be something special (in coming back), but I'm a big boy. Organizations make decisions. You've got to live with them."
Holmgren toured Cleveland and even found time to do some house hunting. Although he was accompanied by agent Bob LaMonte, Holmgren said the sides did not discuss money — perhaps the only thing left to finalize a deal.
"This was getting to know me a little bit better and them getting to know me a little bit better," Holmgren said from his Arizona home.
Holmgren was vague about his desire to coach again. Also, he would not speculate on Mangini's future. As a former coach, Holmgren said he understands the difficulty in turning a team around in one year. The Browns are just 2-11 in a turbulent first season under Mangini.
"It would really be unfair for me to talk too much about that, other than the fact I like Eric Mangini," he said. "He's a good coach. He's a bright guy. He works very, very hard in his job. Anytime you go in and are responsible for who that person is, in fairness to everybody, you'd better give everyone a chance.
"This is his first year in Cleveland. There has been a situation, Bill Parcells in Miami made a coaching change (firing Cam Cameron) after one year, but having been a coach for so many years, I would be the first one to tell you that's not very fair. But those types of decisions sometimes, the tough decisions, aren't fair. I would do everything in my power to make sure that's the right one and everyone gets a chance to prove themselves."
Holmgren acknowledged there is a lot of work to be done with the Browns, but he seems ready for it.
"The challenge of rebuilding is kind of in my blood," he said.