Both sides now

What a difference several months can make.<p> The contrast between the Mike Holmgren who left Lambeau Field in agony last January and the coach who chatted cordially Monday night was as dramatic as the difference between the playoffs and the preseason.<p>

Green Bay has both bolstered Holmgren's stellar reputation and broken his heart. While he may never forget the shock of losing here in the playoffs so abruptly end last season, Holmgren was all smiles after his team's win Monday as he talked with reporters about visiting the place he once ruled.

"I love this place, I honestly do," Holmgren said. "And it is hard to play here as you guys know. But I love this place."

"This is a wonderful place and it is different being on the other side of the field, and it probably always will be to a certain extent," he said.

Holmgren used the pressure-free preseason game day to tour his former home.

"I took a motorcycle ride this morning and stopped at a few of my old haunts," he said. "I have so many friends here ... it is always fun to come back.

Holmgren is entering his sixth year as Seattle's coach. If he stays through the 2005 season with the team which lured him from Titletown, he will have been a Seahawk as long as he was a Packer.

Another sign that the time truly does fly is the tenure of his former student. Quarterback Brett Favre, in his 14th NFL campaign and 13th season here, will now have spent as many years under other coaches as he has under Holmgren (five with Mike Sherman, one each with Ray Rhodes and Jerry Glanville).

Holmgren said it doesn't seem like he's been gone that long.

"I thought about that today and it doesn't (seem like 6 years)," he said. "Some things will never change. This is a wonderful place for us."

Granted things didn't seem so cozy back in January. Al Harris proved Seahawk QB Matt Hasselbeck's overtime prediction dead wrong when he picked off a pass that gave the Packers an emotional playoff win. It was only their second post-season win at legendary Lambeau since Holmgren's departure following the 1998 season.

A preseason win, even one as dominating as the Seahawk's 21-3 trouncing of the Pack Monday night, can erase that kind of pain for Holmgren. He said he'd love to get another postseason shot at the Pack. But like any good guest, he'd like to return the hospitality.

"That would be great," he said of Packers-Seahawks NFC title game showdown already predicted by a few pundits.

"But we could do it in Seattle."

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