Below is a transcript of Mike Holmgren's press conference on Tuesday.
(Browns General Counsel Fred Nance introduction)- “Good afternoon. It is indeed quite an honor as one of my first official acts as a part of the Cleveland Browns organization to have the opportunity to present to you our new President, Mike Holmgren. I’ve had the opportunity during the course of finalizing his contract to get to know Mike a bit and I have to tell you that all those reports are true. He is a man of vision, determination and most of all, integrity. His accomplishments speak for themselves. He really doesn’t need any introduction. That’s why it is such a thrill for me to say on behalf of the people of the City of Cleveland, Mike, on behalf of all of us who kept the faith and knew that a better day was coming for the Cleveland Browns, on behalf of Cleveland Browns fans all over this nation, indeed, all over the world, welcome Mike Holmgren.”
Transcript courtesy of http://blogs.theobr.com/
(Opening statement)- “I want you to know for the last 562 press conferences I’ve given, I didn’t wear a neck tie, so this is a new deal. Jim [Brown], good to see you. I look forward to getting to know all of you over the course of our time here. I know a few of you from my days as a coach. When I made the decision this year to evaluate how I would feel being away from the game after coaching for a long time, I realized I missed it a lot. Then, I had to make a decision, or we had to make a decision, whether I would stay on the field or attempt a new challenge.
After much consideration, I thought that I would like to approach the NFL and a team in a different way, a new challenge if you will. Once that was done Randy Lerner approached us. We had some wonderful discussions and meetings and the rest as they say, is history. I’m very, very excited to be here. I’m excited about the possibilities of what we could do, understanding that any organization that has changed like this can expect some change. I’ve had the privilege and the pleasure of meeting a number of folks in the organization.
Today is my first day. I still have a whole lot of folks to meet. We’re going to be making some decisions by the end of the week hopefully. Something that I thought could be done rather quickly, sometimes, there are a lot of rules in the NFL, as you know, as far as hiring people and we’re going to abide by those rules, teams are in playoffs, those types of considerations. It’s probably going to take a little bit longer then I had hoped, but [I am] looking forward to the challenge of, not necessarily rebuilding the Browns, because the Browns have a wonderful, wonderful history, but being a part of getting the team back to where they should be, and I’m talking about the playoffs and potentially the Super Bowl. That’s the goal of every organization in this business. My first head coaching job was in Green Bay and my second one was in Seattle and in both instances I think we did a good job of going in there and fixing things a little bit and eventually playing in the Super Bowl, which is the hope of every player and certainly of every person in the organization.
“One quick story, when we won the Super Bowl in Green Bay, it had been a long time, since Coach (Vince) Lombardi, that they had participated in the Super Bowl, much less win it. I remember it being in the Superdome in Louisiana. [I] was sitting in the coach’s room there, some of you know where that is, and there were a lot of happy folks in there. I asked them to leave for just a second so I could be by myself. I remember thinking, you could hear the players, the coaches, but there are so many more people that were enjoying that win. There are so many more people that make up an organization and deserve the credit for building something up and eventually playing in that game. We’re going to try very, very hard to get everybody pulling in the same direction and hopefully it’ll have a happy ending. Once again, I am very, very excited. Before I go any further, I would like to introduce my wife, Kathy. We had gotten rid of all our snow equipment when we left Green Bay, but you know what, it’s beautiful outside. It’s beautiful and we are very, very happy to be here, so thank you.”
(On if he can confirm that he met with Eric Mangini today and where he stands in terms of his decision on him)- “That’s an important question for the organization. I met with Eric briefly, but not ‘the’ meeting. He was busy. They’re getting their yearend evaluations completed. I saw a number of the coaches. We have a meeting scheduled for tomorrow. What I asked him to do is I asked him to think about a few things this evening. I didn’t want to really get any sort of answer or any feeling from him today, but I did give him a list of things to think about for our meeting tomorrow in fairness to Eric, instead of getting blindsided with a bunch of pop questions from me. I was a coach for a long time and it’s important that he understands where I’m coming from. It’s important that I understand where he’s coming from.
The only way you win in this league is if the coach and the person in my position and or a general manager are absolutely on the same wave length. That’s the only way you have a chance. You’ve all seen organizations that you kind of scratch your head and [think], ‘Why doesn’t it work for them? They should be better or their record should be better or whatever.’ It boils down to, you can pinpoint it is that egos get in the way. Everyone establishes their little power base and it destroys the team. At least it doesn’t let them accomplish what they should accomplish. My goal is to have that feeling in this building, is to have everyone thinking in a like manner, going in the same direction. Let’s put all the egos aside for a second and let’s get around the job of winning. That meeting I’m going to have with him tomorrow.”
(On if Tom Heckert will be interviewed for the General Manager position)- “Tom is coming in tomorrow, yes.”
(On if he has other candidates lined up to interview for the General Manager position)- “Yes we do.”
(On if he can say who the other candidates for General Manager are)- “No I can’t. Thanks for asking though (joking).”
(On if Eric Mangini has a legitimate chance to win him over in their meeting tomorrow)- “Absolutely, otherwise I wouldn’t have set the meeting up. When you get to know me a little bit, and some of you in the room know me a little bit, I don’t dance too much and I appreciate people that will shoot straight, so I wouldn’t do that to him. We’re going to have a meeting and maybe a couple of meetings this week, but I hope to have that resolved by the end of the week.”
(On if he is working on a new contract for Joshua Cribbs and how soon it could be accomplished)- “Well that’s the question. We’ve been in contact with his representatives even when I was in Arizona. I believe players should be rewarded for what they do. I have no problems with that at all. What happens though on occasion is our view of how much that should be and the agent’s view of how much that should be differs. We have made an effort. We will continue to make an effort to handle Josh’s situation. I want Josh here. Now, he has three years left on his existing contract, so it’s a little unprecedented to start doing things this early in a contract like that. Having said that, a player should get what he deserves in my opinion and he’s been a fine player. It’s just that business part of it that we’re going through now. We’re trying and I hope how we do that is good enough.”
(On what he is inheriting here)- “They’ve one four games in a row. That’s pretty good. Now, Tom (Withers), you have to give me some time to take off my coaching hat. Now I’m a big shot executive (joking). What I have to do is I have to probably rearrange how I think about the team. Eric’s going to view it a certain way because he’s the coach. I’ve gone into situations and said probably words very close to that. You go in and take a program that’s been down a little bit, an organization, and you want to build it up. Sometimes frustration sets in. It doesn’t happen fast enough, guys get hurt, you were counting on this player and something happens and a coach’s frustration comes out. The team finished strong, they did. Again, there’s a lot more to how this is going to play out than the last four games.”
(On if his duties go beyond the football aspect of the organization)- “Everything, I sell suites, hotdogs, parking, the whole deal, yes, I get to do it (joking). Yes, I was a business major in college, the Harvard of the west. I went to USC, you know that. My responsibility is for the organization, so I’ll take an active role in everything. Now, one of the keys to that is, clearly, I’m not going to micromanage. I’m going to hire people, or we have good people in place and I’m going to oversee that, but yes, I’m going to take an active role in everything.”
(On what positions he wants to hire in the personnel department besides a general manager)- “That’s in the process of being decided right now and I would have a much better answer for you at the beginning of next week. I know that doesn’t help you much, but we have a number of things we’re looking at. We talked about change and some of that is just restructuring, in my opinion. Sometimes you know you have five people changing the light bulb. We’re going to look at everything and try and streamline things, get good people to do it and work hard and time it from there, but I will have a much better feel for that next week.”
(On if he can go through what he has done since he arrived last night and if Randy Lerner is here)- “The owner was going to be here, but he got trapped. He could not travel because of the weather, so I didn’t have a chance to meet with Randy. We were going to meet today. We will meet tomorrow. I don’t have an office yet so I just ran into the first one that was empty. They set me up pretty good and that’s what I’ve been doing. I’ve been talking to people, putting lists together of potential candidates for any number of things. [I am] trying to evaluate the organization now and how things are set up and learning, really, how things have been done here. If change is necessary, change will take place. If it’s not, it won’t. The other thing, as you would know, I have a stack of messages up there this high. Every guy I’ve ever coached with, played with, went to school with wants a job. I understand that so I am just trying to be fair with those types of things. That’s the kind of day it’s been so far.”
(On if he has contacted any head coaching candidates and if he has a list of candidates)- “That’s a little premature. Like I said, I am meeting with Eric tomorrow. Any list? If I spent a lot of time on a list, it might have been a lot of time wasted. Let’s see how this thing goes during the week. What I’ve always done in my position as a head coach in the league, I’ve always kept lists every year of position coaches, head coaches. I guess an honest answer to your question, I have lists. I have a lot of names. Now, will I ever have to go to that list, we’ll see.”
(On if he generally believes your record is what you are)- “If I understand what you are saying, I think so on one hand. On the other hand, I think over the course of a season, a young team can improve. You can see growth. You can see development. My third year in Seattle, we were 4-9 and having a bad year, I mean not playing very well. Then our quarterback Matt Hasselbeck got hot and he was just starting to feel it, starting to become a quarterback for us.
Then, we won our last three games against playoff caliber teams, San Diego, Atlanta, one other team. We finished the season 7-9 and that was the spring board for what happened in the future and we eventually got to the Super Bowl. We were having a lousy season. The team was way better at the end of the year then it was at the beginning of the year and guys started coming. Shaun Alexander started learning what it was to be in the NFL, all of those things. Your record, that’s what it is. No question about it. Can you improve and can you kind of build on a tough record for the next year because of what happened at the end of the season? I think absolutely you can.”
(On what Mangini needs to present to him in order to stay with the Browns)- “Now Marty (Gitlin), you don’t really expect me to answer that question? I understand the question, but in fairness to everybody, let’s just let this play out. Like I said, hopefully by the end of the week I can make the call.”
(On if having the same coaching philosophies is important to being on the same page with a head coach)- “I think it’s a little bit of the same page. All I care about is for the organization to win and set it up properly. That’s what I want. If you play a 3-4 defense and I am a four man line guy or if you run the spread offense and I am a West Coast guy, I don’t care. I really don’t care. I always thought it was a little bit funny. I learned my trade, if you will, under Bill Walsh who got credit for the West Coast offense, but actually if you asked Bill about it, it was Paul Brown. It’s a term I always thought, with all due respect, I always thought it was a little bit of a lazy term that you guys use sometimes, with all due respect. I took what I learned, I go to wherever I go and I am doing my thing and adding this, adding that, adding that and while philosophically, you might make an argument for West Coast, it was different.
Jon Gruden worked for me.Andy Reid worked for me. (Steve) Mariucci worked for. All of these guys, Mike Sherman. They all learned what we did, but then they go to their places and it changes. I think if you look at football, unless if you are running the Wildcat or one of those things that they are doing now, you see a lot of similarities in offense. I wouldn’t get too bogged down in that. I believe I can contribute a little to the offensive thinking. I’m not going to coach the team. I am not going to coach the team, but in the offseason and meetings, if someone wants to come in and talk football with me, I’d love that. I still enjoy that. I hope they do that, but I have a different gig now. I am not going to coach the football team. We will hire coaches to coach the football team.”
(On who will handle drafting and free agency)- “That also remains to be seen. Right now, I have a lot of titles. I could do it all if I wanted to. I don’t want to. I am going to hire a general manager. I know you guys know this, very few teams, none that I’ve been associated with, with high powered personnel people or presidents or whatever you want to call them, does the guy come in, pound the desk and say, ‘We are taking this guy and I don’t care what anybody thinks.’ There’s one team I can think of that does that, but no one else. If we have a general manager, and I will be involved, absolutely involved, but as to actually who says, ‘We are going to pick this guy on draft day,’? Right now, I couldn’t tell you.”
(On how much input a coach should have in drafting)- “A lot, I coached for 25 years. Absolutely it’s a mistake if whoever has that responsibility on draft day, does not listen to the assistant coaches and [head] coaches. The best example I can give you was, again, when we went to Green Bay and Ron Wolf was my boss. He ran the Packers. He hires me, a first-time head coach. He told me, ‘I will never give you a player you don’t want.’ I realized, he set up the board, but he involved me in everything. I think that’s the best way to do it. These little power groups or little kingdoms in any organization are not healthy. They are not healthy. Part of my job is to make sure that everyone feels that they can contribute and be listened to.”
(On how much he will miss coaching and if he could possibly coach again)- “I think I said I wasn’t going to coach this year. (joking) You know, I don’t know Scott (Petrak). I think maybe afterwards you can ask my wife what she’d rather have me do. I did it. It was so much fun. I enjoyed it. I miss it, and I know I’m going to miss it. I’ve never been one to look back that way. My challenge is to take my new role, help whoever the coach is be as successful as he can be, help him and understand that. I’m in a different place now. If I can feel good about how I’ve helped somebody that way, that’ll be enough for me.”
(On his feelings on his first day on the job)- “It’s invigorating. It’s fun. We had a blast our year off. I got to ride my motorcycle a little bit. We read a lot of books. We were with the grandkids. I mean it was a great year, something I needed. I teased my friends, (Bill) Parcells, (Dick) Vermeil, (John) Madden, all those guys, [after] about 10 years they took a break. They took a break and came back. I never did that. It was 17 years of [work] and I needed to take a break. I didn’t know what I was going to do when I came back. I didn’t know if I was going to get back into football when I left. Like I said, I realized I missed it. There’s something inside of me, the challenge of rebuilding things, it’s just what I like to do. I was a coach first and now I have a different role. I am invigorated.
After talking to Randy Lerner, he was unbelievable with me, unbelievable. He so wants this team to be a great football team for the people of this city, the Browns fans all over the world and he challenged me. When you get that type of support from your owner, he kind of sealed the deal. I’m excited, we’re excited. Someone told me when I came it didn’t snow in Cleveland. In Green Bay, like I said, we’ve experienced a little snow and a little cold at one time or another. It’s going to be fun and exciting. We just roll up our sleeves in the next few weeks and months and do the best job we can of analyzing what we have, where we have to go. I pray all the time for wisdom and discernment, so we’ll see how it goes.”