Holmgren Press Conference - 5/17/06, Part One

On Wednesday, May 17, Seahawks President Tim Ruskell, CEO Tod Leiweke and head coach Mike Holmgren addressed the media to discuss Holmgren's recent contract extension. Seahawks.NET will provide a transcript of the entire press conference in two parts.

Seahawks President Tim Ruskell: "I know you guys get tired of hearing this, but it’s another great day for the Seahawks – for this entire organization. Our players and coaches, Tod and myself, and our owner, Paul Allen. We’ve come to an agreement and signed a contract extension with Coach Holmgren for two years – which in effect, makes it a three-year deal. We’re all very pleased. Congratulations, coach."

Head Coach Mike Holmgren: "Thank you."

Seattle Seahawks chief executive officer Tod Leiweke, left, head coach Mike Holmgren, middle, and president Tim Ruskell, right, answer questions from the media at a news conference on Wednesday May 17, 2006 in Kirkland, Wash. Holmgren agreed to a contract extension with the team Wednesday, staying through 2008. Terms weren't disclosed. (AP Photo/Kevin P. Casey)

Ruskell: "We believe we’ve locked up one of the finest coaches in the National Football League. Not just now, but in the history of the game, and we’re very fortunate. This team is constructed in the way that Mike wanted it constructed, and it’s a team that’s on the verge of having a long run. It’s a chance to do something special, which we did last year, and of course, we want to take it a step further. I think part of that is Mike Holmgren and his staff. It’s a great day for Paul and the entire organization – and most importantly, for our fans. This is what they wanted, and this is what we wanted. When you have something like that, it’s a good day for Seattle sports.

"We see him as a great coach. We see him as a great leader. We see him as a great fit for this team. (Owner) Paul (Allen) and (CEO) Tod Leiweke and myself see him as a great partner, and that’s what this is all about. A partnership, as we move forward to the next generation of what we want the Seahawks to do. We want that to last for a long time. So, it’s excellent.

"Above all else, this is a good man, and this is the right move for our franchise and for our organization. And with that, I’ll turn it over to Mike."

Holmgren: "Thank you very much, Tim and Tod. I’m a little bit humbled by all that. It was very nice of you to say, and obviously, we’re very excited about today. You guys know that there was a delay, where questions came up on occasion as to what the future would hold, and I appreciate the organization’s willingness to let me think a little bit about what we wanted to do. I appreciate the media here in Seattle for allowing me that time as well. I mean, you guys were pretty understanding and reasonable, I think, in allowing us time to work through that, so I want to thank you for that as well.

"This is a great day for us. Kathy and I had some time – we talked about a few things. One being that we love it here in Seattle as a family, and the things we’re involved with outside of this organization – we like it here very much. We wanted to stay here. When I got the feeling from our organization – the two men that are sitting up here with me – that they would like us to stay, too, then it just amounted to working out some of the details. They did a marvelous job of working with us on that.

"The second thing is…I am a football coach. It’s what I love to do, and in talking about the decision to extend – Kathy, who is my conscience, talked about a couple of things. One, how I felt physically, which comes up in occasion with all coaches, and I’ve never felt better. I feel great. Two, do I have the fire to keep dong this? After doing it for a while, the idea of getting a little bit worn down and not really being able to be fair with the players and the organization and giving them everything they deserve, comes up. It’s a question that comes up. And I can honestly say, that fire burns brightly still inside of me.

"Lastly, I think our team is on the verge of something special. I thought last year was a special year for the Seattle Seahawks. But we do have some unfinished business, and Tim referred to it a little bit. We have good young players – We have a good feeling in the building. The organization is – we’re all pulling in the same direction, and there’s a lot of very, very positive things going on for this organization, and in my opinion, the city.

"So, I want to thank everybody who was patient with me in this time, and we’re very excited to be able to do this, and stay on as the coach of this football team.”

(Holmgren Q & A)

(On whether being the general manager of a team again is still on his priority list, and will he be here for the full three remaining years…) “My plan right now is, yeah, to fulfill the contract that we signed. I said this when we signed the initial eight-year contract, which is a long contact in terms of the NFL. And you know as well as I do that there were a couple of instances where, during that eight-year period, we could have shaken hands and gone our separate ways. It’s been well-discussed why we stayed, and I’m looking at this the same way.

“The actual details of the contract itself – okay, those will hopefully just remain known by just me and Kathy, and the two men that are sitting up here at the table. My plan is to fulfill the contract. I think that when you shake hands with somebody, and you have an owner who I talked to this morning, who has been very good to me, I think that’s very much a two –way street. Who can read the future? I don’t think any of us can. But right now, our intention is very much to honor the contract that we signed.”

(On how the two-year timeframe for the extension came about…) “I don’t even know if I can answer that. (to Ruskell) Can you answer that?”

Ruskell: “Uh…no.” (laughter)

Holmgren: “Well, the lease on my boat ends in two years, so we had to cover that. Seriously, we have three years left – look at it that way – and again, in this business, that in itself is a pretty good run. I can’t give you an answer to that – it just felt good to people. “

(On whether this will be the end of his coaching career…) “I don’t know that. If I’m still feeling the fire, and still doing what people think is a decent job, who knows? In June, I’m gong to be 58 years old, and I’ve always said that there are other things in life that I’d like to do. But nothing more than what I’m doing right now. I couldn’t even tell you what those things are, quite honestly. If I’m feeling good and I still have the fire – those are the two things that are probably as important as anything.”

(To CEO Tod Lieweke, on the face of the franchise as the team moves forward into a new facility – Renton in 2008…) “We’ve announced a series of things here pretty recently, but Coach leading the team is second to none. Every day, I get up and I read, while I’m still in my bathrobe, fan feedback – because we do listen to our fans - and they absolutely thought this was the right thing to do. When they heard word this morning of this potentially happening, it was a very, very positive reaction.

(To Holmgren – on the emotions he went through after the season and how then impacted his decision to come back…) “Well, it’s interesting. I think that after every season I’ve ever coached, although the recovery period lasts just a little longer now that I’m a little bit older, but after every season, it’s important for a coach to sit and take some time and evaluate the job (he) did, first of all. We all do this. Then, this season compared to last season – the season before, as an example. This season ended with – I love my team and I love what they did – but losing a Super Bowl game is difficult, any way you look at that. As much as we put into something like that, it does take something out of you when it ends that way. So, you need time to kind of process that and get through that. That was really the emotional part for me.

“Of course, (his wife) Kathy was still in Africa at the time, and she was still gone after the game, so she needed to get home and we needed to talk about the future. The year before, if you’ll remember, it was quite a different emotion – still difficult, or still needing time to work through some things. But now, I’m so convinced that the organization is where it should be, and the team is headed in the right direction, ad we have the chance to do good things here. It’s something we’ve been working for, for the last seven years, to get to this point. It just seemed pretty reasonable to try to extend my deal so I could be part of that, as well. Those were the emotions that were going through my mind.”

(On Paul Allen’s patience, and Holmgren’s relationship with him…) “I told him that this morning, actually. I thanked him for being a great owner, to me, and sticking with me. It’s a volatile business, as you all know. It seems that more and more, in this day and age, it’s harder to find that type of relationship for a coach, that an owner will work with you through the bumps in the road if he believes in you. Clearly, he gives me that feeling, and I thanked him for that. We had a great conversation this morning.

“He’s a unique man, as I’ve said before. He’s got a million things on his plate – in fact, he called me from London this morning. As far as the football part, he is very excited about this team. We talked football this morning, and he talked about what a great feeling there is in this city. He’s really on board with this thing, and again – I just thanked him for allowing me to continue doing my job here.”

(On if he can imagine how he might re-channel his competitiveness after his coaching career is over, having done this so long in such a volatile business…) “Oh, I thought you were saying that I was volatile (laughs). That’s a good question. Honestly, we could all be asked that question – what we would do after our main vocation comes to an end, you retire, whatever you do. I’m just saying I don’t know what that is. I know this – I love what I do, and I’ve been doing it a long time, but there are other things, family-type things, as an example.

“This (coaching) takes a lot of time. And to be fair with everybody, it just takes a lot of time to do the job right. And so at some point down the road, I think that time is the thing you look forward to having a little more of. What that would mean, I can’t tell you right now."

Stay tuned for the conclusion of our transcript tomorrow evening.

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