Sherman shows dignity, rare charm

Editor's note: Former Packers head coach Mike Sherman addressed the media Wednesday at Lambeau Field. Correspondent Matt Tevsh, who attended the press conference, describes how the normally guarded Sherman opened up a little and was very compelling, entertaining, and telling.

On many accounts, it was built up to be more of a funeral than a press conference. Two days prior, Mike Sherman lost his job as head coach of the Green Bay Packers, a position that he poured his soul into for the past six years.

Players and coaches alike had nothing but good things to say about Sherman the day of his firing. It was an emotional good-bye, unlike that of Ray Rhodes, or even the legendary Mike Holmgren before him.

So it stood to reason that today's press conference with the Packers' ex-coach, attended by a larger than normal mass of media, would assume more of a somber tone after Monday's fateful news. Heck, even a clergyman was among those on hand and as he walked in, the question could reasonably be asked by any outsider, "What are we really here for?"

After an opening statement by Sherman, however, what followed during a line of questioning was some of the most compelling, entertaining, and telling information of any press conference the coach has ever held during his time in Green Bay.

For starters, general manager Ted Thompson had not given the public nor Sherman any reasons for the dismissal other than it was time to go in a new direction. It can be debated whether this year's 4-12 season played into the decision, whether Sherman's personnel moves hurt the team's overall talent, or whether Sherman actually is a good coach on game day, but all told, it really came down to Thompson wanting to put his stamp on the franchise to lead it into the future.

"Ted has his reasons and obviously he was in a tough position," said Sherman. "He came in (last January) and the former general manager and former coach was here when he came here, and I think that's a tough position to be in."

Sherman even caught himself in a subconscious moment giving a reason as to why he thought he may have been let go.

"I'm sure Ted felt at times with me having been the general manager, and I'm certainly not the guy that he chose; sometimes you just need your own guy," he said. "Maybe that's the situation that happened here."

Sherman was relieved of his general manager duties, but not as head coach, a year ago, giving way to Thompson to make the critical personnel football decisions. Though Sherman was given a two-year extension to coach the Packers before the regular season began, he knew there was a chance it could be over sooner rather than later.

"I think anytime there is a change at the top like there was there, you have to honest that's a possibility," he said.

After Sunday's 23-17 victory over the Seahawks in the Packers' regular season finale, Sherman admitted to thinking about his job status for the first time all year. It may have been in the back of his mind during other parts of the season, but when he left the podium after the post-game press conference and did not have a game to prepare for the following week, it hit him more than at any point during the year. He stayed at the stadium a little longer than normal and thought about it, though he returned to his office early Monday morning to begin off-season work.

When Thompson brought Sherman in then for a meeting around 7 a.m. to tell him what his plans were, Sherman was surprised and disappointed, but understanding. It was the type of understanding that he probably gained when he was relieved of his general manager duties a year ago. At that time, he appeared to be more deflated by the demotion because he didn't agree with Bob Harlan's decision. On Wednesday, he seemed to have a peace about him that was not evident a year ago.

"I don't know if fair is always an option here in this business," said Sherman. "It is what it is. You deal with what's presented to you, and you go forward. You accept every challenge you're given, and I've accepted this as a challenge."

As Sherman met with several players on the team and addressed them in the locker room on Monday, he was greeted with a standing ovation. It was a clear indication of what he meant to those players even more as a person than as a coach.

"It was actually when I walked in before the meeting, and it was a moment I'll never forget for the rest of my life," said Sherman. "It was very special. In this day and age in the National Football League, that was a very special moment for me, probably one of the most special in my professional life."

Though Sherman spoke years ago of Green Bay being the only place for him and possibly his last job in the profession, he is not ready to call it quits anytime soon. His latest setback would appear to drive him to want more, and there is a perception around the league that maybe he was let go too soon.

Sherman's agent Bob LaMonte has had contact with other teams already this week. As of Wednesday, there were seven other NFL openings besides the Packers. Sherman said he will take some time to think about his future, but still wants to coach.

"We'll just wait and see what happens," he said. "Six years is a long time. I have boxes full of things that fans have sent me from rosary beads, crucifixes blessed by the pope, blankets, bobble heads, lucky four-leaf clovers, pennies, quarters, dimes, pictures of children, I mean I have boxes of stuff that I had to get out of there… so I had to take care of that on Monday. Yesterday was my daughter's birthday and I had to get everything straightened out at home, and my wife, the cupboards are not organized very well, so we're working on that right now. The refrigerator stuff is mixed up and we've got to get that straightened out. We've got the vegetables and fruits in the same thing. That drives me crazy."

Bobble heads? Fruits and vegetables? Of course Sherman was just offering a not-often-seen-in-public point of comic relief, but it will not be long before he misses the challenges of coaching football. That is what he embraces and because of his passion, that will not change.

Sherman may take a week to get organized and to thank friends and co-workers, but the number of open coaching jobs around the NFL will most certainly get him an interview or two in the next month and possibly a couple of options. Taking a year off may give him a chance to spend more time with his family and may be better for his health, but he has too much pride to not get back into it this year, whatever the capacity or wherever it may be – even in Minnesota of all places.

"I'm not burned out at all, not even close," said Sherman.

That was evident on Wednesday. At his final press conference, he saved his best material for last.

Matt Tevsh

Editor's note: Matt Tevsh is a regular contributor to and Packer Report. E-mail him at

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