BEREA—Mike Holmgren casts a big shadow.
When newly appointed legal counsel Fred Nance introduced Holmgren to the local media at Holmgren's introductory press conference in Cleveland the sense in the room was a new era has arrived in Cleveland.
The credible voice of football has arrived.
"It is my honor to have one of my first assignments as a member of the Browns to introduce Mike Holmgren as the president of the Cleveland Browns," Nance said.
Nance, who was instrumental in helping the city of Cleveland get an expansion team in 1999 was recently named to his post with the Browns.
There was no major announcements pertaining to the status of Eric Mangini or his assistants, but Holmgren said he expects to have some of the decisions made by the end of the week. He did say that was meeting with Mangini on Wednesday and had given him a list of topics the two will discuss.
Jim Brown was in attendance, but Randy Lerner was unable to attend due to weather conditions, according to Holmgren.
Here is a summary of some of the topics covered:
Q: What is your timetable for hirings/firings?:
Holmgren: We're going to make some decisions by the end of the week, hopefully. There are some rules in place by the NFL and it might take a little longer than I had hoped.
Q: What are your plans for Eric Mangini?:
Holmgren: That's an important question for the organization. I met with Eric briefly, but not THE meeting. We have a meeting scheduled for Wednesday. I did give him a list of things to think about before our meeting. In fairness to Eric, so he's not blind-sided it's important for him to know where I'm coming from.
Q: Does Mangini have a legitimate chance to be retained?
Holmgren: Absolutely, or I wouldn't schedule this meeting. I don't dance much. I shoot straight. We're going to have a meeting, maybe a couple of meetings and hope to have this established by the end of the week. In fairness to everybody, let's just let this play out.
Q: Does the type of offense or defense you ran have any bearing on being on the same page?:
Holmgren: All I care about is for the organization to win. If you run a 3-4 defense and win, that's all that matters. I learned the West Coast offense from Bill Walsh and if you ask him about it he'd say he learned it from Paul Brown.
Q: How important is it to have the personnel people and coaches together on personnel decisions?
Holmgren: I've coached a long time and I know the only way you win in this league is if the (president), coach and GM are all on the same page. It all boils down to egos getting in the way and it destroys the team. My goal is to have everyone in this building working together for the same goal.
Q: Is there any possibility you will coach this year?:
Holmgren: I'm not going to coach the team, but I think I can contribute offensively I'm not going to coach the team.
When I made the decision to be away from the game after coaching, I realized I missed it. I had to make a decision if I would stay on the field or approach the NFL and a team in a different way as a new challenge.
Q: What intrigues you about this job?:
Holmgren: Randy Lerner approached us and we had some interesting talks and the rest is history.The Browns have a wonderful, wonderful history and we want to get them to the playoffs and the Super Bowl. I think we did a good job in Green Bay and in Seattle of fixing things a little bit and getting to the Super Bowl.
When we won the Super Bowl in Green Bay it had been a long time since Coach Lombardi's team had been there. There were so many more people who enjoyed that win and deserved the credit. We're going to try very, very hard to get everyone pulling in the right direction.
Q: Is Tom Heckert a candidate for the GM job?:
Holmgren: Tom is coming in tomorrow more. There are others scheduled but I will not divulge them.
Q: How many people do you think you'll hire?:
Holmgren: That's in the process of being decided right now. We have a number of things we're looking at. Some of that is re-structuring. We're going to look at everything and stream line things.Right now, I have a lot of titles. I don't want to do it all. We're going to hire a general manager. Very few teams, I will be involved, but as to who will have the final say I can't say. It's a mistake if whoever has the responsibility to make the draft decisions doesn't listen to the coaches or assistant coaches input. Ron Wolf said he would never draft a player that I didn't want. Part of my job is to make sure everyone has input.
Q: Do you think you might coach again?:
Holmgren: I think I said I wasn't going to coach this year. I enjoyed it. It was so much fun and I know I'm going to miss it. My challenge is to take my new role and help the coach be as successful as he can be. I hope I can feel as good about that as I did about coaching.
Q: Did you enjoy your year off from football?:
Holmgren: It was invigorating. I enjoyed my time off. I needed to take a break. I didn't know if I was going to get back into football, when I took a break. However, there's something inside of me, the challenge of rebuilding things.
Q: What are your impressions of Randy Lerner?:
Holmgren: Randy Lerner so wants this football team to be great for all the fans. When you get that type of support, that's exciting.
Q: Are you going to extend Josh Cribbs' contract?:
Holmgren: That's the question. We've been in contract with his representatives, even when I was in Arizona. I believe players should be rewarded. Our view and the agent's views sometimes are different. I want Josh here and he has three years left on his existing contract, so it's a little unprecedented in that regards, but it's just the business part of it we're going through now.
Q: Does the final four games sway you?:
Holmgren: Well, they won four games in a row and that's pretty good. You have to give me some time to take off my coaching hat since I'm now a big shot executive. I've probably been in situations where I said (the organization was a mess). The team finished strong, but there's more than the final four games involved here.
Q: Will you be over the whole organization?:
Holmgren: My responsibility is for the organization and so I'll take a role in everything, but I'm not going to micromanage.
Q: Have you met with Randy Lerner today?:
Holmgren: The owner was going to be here but couldn't travel due to the weather.
Q: Do you have a list of potential head coaches if you let Mangini go?:
Holmgren: That's a little premature before I meet with Eric .If I spent a lot of time on a list that might have been a waste of time. I've always kept a list of coaches.
Q: Can winning at the end of the season help you in the future?:
Holmgren: We were 4-9 in my third year and got hot and won our last three games and that was a spring board for our success later. I think you can build on that absolutely.