Holmgren Speaks… to Seattle Radio Station

Mike Holmgren broke his silence today as he spoke to Mitch in the Morning on KJR 950 in Seattle.  Here’s what he said…

Mitch: How long you going to do this?  In 10 years are you going to be the President of the Cleveland Browns?

Holmgren: Well, you know it’s hard to tell for sure.  I’m pretty sure it’s not going to be 10 years.  We still have our home in Seattle.  The kids are there.  The grandkids are there.  I don’t think they’re going to be moving anytime soon.  Our vision is to get back into that area at some point.  Exactly when that is?  I’d like to see improvement here and lay the foundation here so that they can feel good about the team again before I make any changes.

Mitch: What kind of team are the Seahawks going to face this week on Sunday?  Is it a good football team?  Is it an O.K. football team?  What’s your honest assessment of what kind of Browns squad you’ve got over there?

Holmgren: You’ll watch us play, and you know we’re a young football team.  You combine the youth we have on the team and a new coach and at times we kind of look young out there.  And then at other times we actually play pretty well.  I think we play pretty good defense.  Dick Jauron, who’s the defensive coordinator, is doing a heck of a job.  Ray Rhodes is on the staff who you know.  They’re doing a great job.

Offensively, we’re inconsistent.  That comes with having a young quarterback, young receivers, rookie starting at left guard and all those things.  But, when we can eliminate our own mistakes we aren’t bad.  So, you know. We’ll see.

Mitch: How come when Bill Parcells went to the Dolphins I’d watch the games and they’d constantly show Parcells sitting in the box writhing and wrangling with all the things that were happening on the field… How come when I turn on a Browns game I never, or maybe I’m just missing the shots of you?  Are you up in a box?  Where do you watch the games.  And the second question, how do you find it is emotionally in terms of stress?

Holmgren: I remember those pictures of Bill too. I’m in a similar situation sitting upstairs.  In being upstairs I am constantly aware of the possibility that they’re going to shoot me.  Get a shot of me.  So really, I don’t want to be hanging out of the booth yelling.  I don’t want that picture shown because to be honest with you, and I’ll just tell you this, I do get a little bit fired up up there.

I also know this. It’s not my role anymore.  That’s maybe been the most difficult thing for me.  After being on the field for so long and feeling like you have some control over the outcome or what’s happening out there, now I’m upstairs and I have no control over anything.  I’m working through that.  I’m better this year than I was last year.  That’s a tough thing because that’s the chess game of calling plays and outfoxing the defense and the emotions of what’s happening on the field.  That’s why you get into coaching in the first place….

Mitch: What’s it like after a game in the box versus what it used to be like as a coach?  What’s it like to go home versus leaving the booth?

Holmgren: There should be a different dynamic, but I’ll tell you a story.  We lose to the Bengals in the first game this year.  We had some guests in town.  Then we went out to dinner after the game and I’m … after a game I’m kind of quiet, win lose or draw because I was kind of drained all the time and I wasn’t real social.  And people would say, “He’s not very social.”

That night I was upset because I thought we had a chance to win the ballgame.  I was really kind of a jerk.  The next day I went to work and I kind of banged around here and yelled at people.    Then I went home Monday night and Kathy goes, “Lookit.  If you’re going to act that way, go coach again.  You know, if you’re going to be miserable like that, and make people miserable, you might as well coach!” (cracks up Mitch…)

I said, “Point well taken.”  I’m not coaching anymore.  I don’t want to be angry all the time.  The emotions should be different.  So, I’m working on that.


Mike Holmgren also talked about his decision not to coach again.  Said the fire to be a coach wasn’t quite what it used to be.  Holmgren showed support for Pat Shurmur.




  • oribiasi

    This should frighten all of the Browns fans out there to death; he wouldn’t even go on a Cleveland radio station and have an interview.

    Want to know why? He doesn’t want to face the music; he wants to make millions of dollars off an equally aloof Lerner in England and just put crap on the field for us to watch, because we will.

    He knows that he would get grilled to death here. Coward.

  • stin4u

    @1 – sensationalize much?

  • Harv 21

    ugh. Tone deaf. If there’s nothing to say to Cleveland fans right now, what on earth is there to say to Seattle about the state of the team or his reaction to it. And calling his franchise “they.”

    Either he didn’t realize we would read this in Cleveland because he doesn’t get the fans’ passion, or he just doesn’t see the problem talking as the face of the franchise to Seattle while remaining silent here. Either way, tone deaf.

    I respect Holmgren, but I’m starting to wonder whether he thought through his role as chief of ops and face of an organization, or whether he’s kind of mailing it in at this stage, and views it as a retirement benefit package. Someone will scream “what’s the big deal.” The deal: connecting with, and not alienating, your rabid fanbase is NFL Exec 101 stuff. A competent non-toady assistant, maybe someone who’s been here a while, needed to tell him that. And he needs to get a feel for where he is.

  • Clown Baby

    I think he likes to keep his name relevant in Seattle, especially in light of Surfer Pete’s struggles.

  • Ben

    I’m still mad about the first question.

    Dear Seattle,

    He can do this until he wins or we run him out of town. You are a nothing town who has never won anything when it comes to football.

    Signed, Cleveland

    P.S. We have included a copy of the 95 ALCS…game 6 was a good one.

  • He only said “they” once when he was describing his job to make it a team that we could be proud of. After that, he constantly said, “we.” I think people are making too much of this.

  • B-bo

    @1 – Wow, really? REALLY? Taking that “Jump to Conclusions” mat out for a test spin, are we?

  • Shamrock

    Holmgren hasn’t been all thst impressive so far.

  • stin4u

    @6 – Couldn’t agree more, Craig. If we have no one to point an angry finger at we aren’t happy.

  • Billy Thomas

    Shurmer is a CLOWN

  • NJ

    Maybe an obvious, stupid question from someone not living in Ohio – why doesn’t Holmgren do interviews with Cleveland media?

    I think I’d be upset if I was a local Cleveland network. Maybe he doesn’t want to face dogged questioning, but somebody local has to be willing to serve up some softballs if he wants that.

  • crobarred

    I don’t think Holmgren is done coaching. He’s going to give Shurmur his shot but my gut tells me that he will swoop in and call plays if Shurmur falls on his face after two years.

    Many times Holmgren has said that he’s a coach and it’s what he wants to do. If it isn’t here then it may be in Miami after they win the Luck sweepstakes.

  • oribiasi

    @ stin4u and B-bo: You guys/girls are putting your collective heads in the sand of Edgewater Park.

    Harv 21 said it, he is mailing it in and his use of “they” and reluctance to talk to the actual city his $#%$#ing team is in startles me. This is way more telling about his interest in the team and why he picked that goof-ball Shurmur to run it. He has become a hands off (unless you are cheering for your team at the game, then his former FBI-goons will be all kinds of ‘hands on’ you) leader, making statements about the Browns in a city 3 time zones away from us.

    Why won’t he do an interview here? Because he doesn’t care anymore. And honestly, until they put something on the field worth caring about, why should we? If we keep subsidizing crappy teams they will just keep being crappy. If you are running a business and your sales are steady every year and your aloof manager is in England running a soccer club is signing checks without checking in on anything, why not just keep it as-is? Why work any harder? It’s a shame.

  • B-bo

    It couldn’t possibly be that the guy has a good relationship with the radio station/jocks in question, a relationship developed over several years of living/working in Seattle. Seattle, by the by, just so happens to be our opponent on the field this week. Nope, this is all clearly a giant middle finger to our fans by a guy who’s just cashing checks from some absentee owner, and signals the very collapse of the franchise. Especially since he used the term “they” once. Once. If my head is in the sand, it’s because that’s about the only way to avoid the hysterical wailing coming from the more conspiratorial and irrational Chicken Littles within our fanbase.

    This team has issues, and they are significant. But our owner’s physical location and our Team President’s choice of media appearances are not among them.

  • stin4u

    @13 – I’m pretty sure with all the time Holmgren spent in the NFL taking teams to the Super Bowl because you know, it was his job, he probably took at least some tiny bit of pride in what he did. To say that now he just doesn’t care is ridiculous.

    He’s not speaking to Cleveland media because no matter what he says at this point, the ‘chicken littles’ (good call b-bo), will interpret it the wrong way. I can’t believe the reaction of some people around here. Nearly everyone agreed before the season this wasn’t a playoff team and now that were one game under .500 everyone in the Browns organization including Bob the janitor owes us an explanation.

    C’mon people.

  • JM

    Really guys enough with the Lerner bashing. He hired Holmgren, the football “czar” AND Heckert to run this team and everyone loved the hires. What does Lerner have to do with the team looking like garbage yet again?

  • Harv 21

    well, my position is more nuanced than that:

    – agree this is a small thing. But worried it’s symptomatic of, at best, a guy who is not addressing his current job with the tenaciousness that he brought to his HC positions.

    – there may be nothing he wants to say to us right now. Fine, judgement call, last thing we need is another Carmen Policy smarming at us in every available mic. But then don’t comment on coaches or players to others!

    – not happy unless complaining? yep, truth in that. Took a class where they said that’s what blogs are for. I was just auditing and didn’t study for the final, so maybe got that wrong.

  • oribiasi

    @ B-bo: It’s late and I’m stuck at work so I don’t want to argue, but really, if you can’t see the writing on the wall here I don’t know what to say. The funny thing is, if I were in his position, I think I’d do the same thing…that is, if I didn’t care about this city and its team as passionately as I do. He interviewed 4 people for the head coach/offensive coordinator position. 4. My company interviewed 20 people for my position. Do you think my job in Accounting means more or less than the Head Coach of the Cleveland Browns?

    But seriously ask yourself this question: Why would he not do an interview here? What would be his motivation(s)?

    If you come up with anything please, tell the class.

  • Chris

    @Stin. Ty. Period!! Its nice to know that at least one person gets it.

  • NJ

    Again, not so sound naive, but what does Holmgren do as President every day? Is he involved in player evaluation? On-field decisions? Marketing of the team? What exactly?

    Cause I assumed that a large portion of the position was going to be acting as the face of the organization, meaning doing interviews and answering the hard questions when the rabble grabbed their pitchforks (i.e. this whole Hillis idiocy). That doesn’t appear to be the case.

    If that’s not his job, cool. But what does he do? Just hire (or fire) the GM and HC then sit back? Do monthly evals? Sign PO requests? Manage the petty cash?

  • oribiasi

    @ NJ: Part if his job is to disallow signs, standing during the games, cheering too “loudly” during the games, etc. He enforces these rules by the use of incredibly elaborate camera systems that can track malfeasance (think I’m kidding? I’ve held a letter in my hand from his office to a friend of mine using this kind of language. This letter prohibited his buying tickets/going to a game for two years), swearing, standing, sitting, etc. He also literally has ex-FBI guys working for him as well that can track down these bad eggs and let ’em have it.

  • jimkanicki

    just count me with oribiasi, nj, and a less-nuanced harv on this.

    in addition to raising quite a few questions about his commitment to this job, this interview naively invites more controversy at a point in time where they specifically need less.

  • mgbode

    i miss the cloud of negativity and the conspiracy theories that float around cleveland. thank you to WFNY for keeping it in my life.

    hey guys, I heard Holmgren is mad that not enough people wear mustaches to games and that he is going to trade Rubin in the offseason for a 6th round pick if we don’t get a 50% mustache rate by the end of the year. women count too, they don’t get off the hook here 🙂

  • mgbode

    @NJ – the best I can gather from the interviews and pieces done on Holmgren is that he is basically ‘acting-owner’ for the Browns. he is the guy who represents Lerner at any owners or league meetings. he is responsible for organizing the business and football side of the Browns. he even mentioned plans on renovating the lakefront property that Lerner owns near the stadium.

    so, basically, Holmgren is the owner sans the actual ownership. yes, he has some commitment to speak to the press, but outside of a few owners (Jerry and, well Jerry) you do not see owners talk to the media on a weekly basis. Most of them (particularly the more visible ones like Kraft, Snyder, etc.) will occasionally. But, we are talking a few times a year at most.

  • BuckeyeDawg

    This is one of things that probably shouldn’t bother me as a fan…but it kind of does.

    Mike…I understand that this is a job for you…and that deep down, you probably don’t care as much as we (the fans) do. But could you at least ACT like you care as much as we do? Perception is reality.

    Our team has lost two in a row, the star RB is disgruntled, the star KR is running his mouth, the young QB is looking somewhat lost, the coach looks in over his head…and here you are doing interviews for Seattle radio.

    This is probably much ado about nothing. But it sure comes across bad.

  • Big Z

    I think the best part of the interview is where The Walrus talks about being highly upset after the loss to the Bengals… knocking stuff around and getting loud with folks etc. It makes me believe that he’s retained all the passion he used to display while coaching from the sidelines. I’d have to think that Shurmur’s gotten more than a few A$$-chewings at this point, and that very soon he’ll drop the “cool guy” facade and starting getting hot with the players when they deserve it, whether that be in the locker room or on the field. Especially with all of the media nonsense concerning Hillis and Cribbs.

  • B-bo

    What could possibly be Mike Holmgren’s motivation(s) for not doing an interview here? Well, and I’m just spit-balling here:

    1. Maybe this was a favor to the station/jocks back in Seattle. Maybe they asked, and he obliged, since we’re facing that team this week. Having spent so much time there, this doesn’t seem unreasonable.

    2. Maybe no one here in Cleveland has bothered to ask the guy for a sit down. Maybe the fine, responsible, measured media members in the city of Cleveland were busy fanning flames or trying to read between the lines of a statement by Josh Cribbs or Peyton Hillis or Pat Schurmur or the head of janitorial services in Berea and never thought to ask the man to talk with them. Can you say for sure this isn’t the case? I know I can’t. Can you call this possibility unreasonable? Not if you’ve paid any attention at all to the media in Cleveland you can’t.

    3. Maybe he saw this as an opportunity to do just what you and others here are calling for him to do: address the issues thus far. But instead of doing so with either a talk radio station known for stirring the pot in Cleveland or the new kid on the block in the town’s sports radio scene (a largely unknown-as-of-yet quantity), he trusted it to a setting where he felt more comfortable. Maybe this Seattle station even agreed to keep the questions softer and the pressure down to help him out. Surely Mike Holmgren realizes how radio waves work, and how the interwebs work (through a series of tubes, of course), and so he knew that the content of the interview would reach Clevelanders ears soon enough. He gets to make his points without the possibility of agitated callers assailing him or radio jocks looking to make a name for themselves by raking him over the coals in an effort to boost their status in town.

    4. Maybe he’s a horrible person who sees his position in Cleveland as a paid retirement plan. He no longer gives a damn about his own reputation, and any competitive spirit that the man who spent his life in competition has been extinguished. He’s out to stick it to you, me, and the countless number of Browns fans across the world, because everyone hates Cleveland and we are just a bunch of simple-minded Midwesterners who don’t know better anyway.

    Not to go all Col. Jessup on you, but the fact is this: I’m an educated man, oribiasi, but I’m afraid I can’t speak intelligently on the interview habits of Michael G. Holmgren. What I know is that I don’t consider the man without his faults. I believe he would have been better off not saying anything about Hillis’ contract at the start of the season, though I think that was done as a courtesy to fans, to let them know he understood their desire to keep Hillis around. It backfired something fierce, but that happens. Had Peyton and the team come to an agreement, we’d have stood up and cheered Holmgren for not behaving like the shadowy figure many accused Mangini of being, or the absentee, soccer-loving owner so many love to hate for various and sometimes baffling reasons. Ultimately I’m just speculating, as are you, as is every other person commenting here. Nothing wrong with that, of course, but there won’t be anyone ruling on who’s right or wrong anytime soon. Given that, I for one would prefer talking about the players and coaches, who are the ones most responsible for the results we see each week. At least we can see them do their jobs, and evaluate accordingly.

  • B-bo

    @mgbode Solution: schedule all of our home dates with the Steelers. Their female supporters alone would push that mustache rate through the roof.

  • B-bo

    Also, to that point about Holmgren only interviewing 4 people for the HC gig: How many qualified applicants does anyone think there are out there for the position of NFL Head Coach, something only 32 people are doing at any given time? Now how many people (and this is by no means a shot at the profession) out there are qualified to be accountants? So am I at all surprised that a firm would end up interviewing more applicants for an accounting position than a team does for a HC position? Not one bit. In fact, a team bothering to interview dozens of potential coaches would strike me as one lacking direction and competence.

  • Mike in Seattle

    Man, KJR-AM really stinks as a sports radio station, just so you all know, and Mitch Levy is…well…insert your term for bonehead idiot here.

    Holmgren always had a good “working relationship” with the “talent” at KJR, it shouldn’t be a surprise that he’d do an interview with them. He was here for a long time. I’d cut him a LITTLE slack on the fact that he did the spot.

    I agree with those who think that Holmgren didn’t come off too well. He just seems to not be “all in”. It was a very thin silver lining that he was pissed after the Bungles game.

    And this? “You are a nothing town who has never won anything when it comes to football.” Listen, I am a Browns fan more than any other team in sports. I am not a Seahawk fan at all. That being said, the Seahawks might not have won a Superbowl or NFL Championship in the last 46 years, but they have won a conference title in recent memory. There are times when I think it’s appropriate to pull ancient history out of your butt, but this isn’t one of them. (and I really don’t mean to be snarky, but…is Cleveland REALLY a “something” town?)

  • NJ

    @24 – Thanks. That was a legit question, my cattiness aside. For some reason, I thought he was just overseeing football operations – basically managing H and Sh. But that actually sounds like a pretty intense job.

  • Shamrock

    Ron Wolf was brains behind Packers.

  • christopher


    I am hoping you forgot your sarcasm font with that last one.

  • Foghorn Leghorn

    We’re F’d. THe guy who is supposed to be running this show is in it to, “lay the foundation here so that they can feel good about the team again”, and then he wants to bail back to the family within 10 years. Oh and 10 yrs, wasnt even a question, so I think at most we’re looking at a 7 yr window. Thanks Mike. I cant believe Im ready to turn against this man on small tidbits of an interview, but for God’s sake he barely even compliments the team or puts any faith in em. You can call it honesty if you want, but I think he is describing us as an unbiased, disinterested bystander. I expect that sort of analysis of the defense and offense from the 30 second segment we get on ESPN once a week, basically pointing out the obvious and unobjectionable. I dont know bout you all, but I would like a President who is trying to inspire hope and looking towards the future, rather than this dribble.

    Harv, Im in with you… this speaks volumes about his stance, especially when he wont even say it to our collective face.

  • Painesville

    Geesh. It wouldn’t be CLE sports if we weren’t bi***ing about something.

    If we were 5-0, this guy could go on PIT radio and profess his love for the Rooneys and we wouldn’t bat an eye (read: LBJ and his NYY hat), but because we’re playing poorly this is news.

  • Matt

    I think he made himself a target to take some of the heat off of Shurmur.

  • stin4u

    @35 – EXACTLY. More over, I bet if we had beaten Oakland or Tenn. this is a non issue. Give us one more win and the cry babies all over this town would probably still be sucking their thumbs.

    I’m so sick of this. The guy wasn’t brought in to coach, he was brought in to make the right hires and the right decisions for the organization to get it moving in the right direction. Does that mean he would need to be here indefinitely? NO.

  • mgbode

    @B-bo (#28) – I set ’em up, you knock ’em down. Nice.