(Mike Holmgren, on whether issues like being able to potentially get out of the contract down the road and the GM possibilities with another team were on his mind?…) “I don’t think I’d talk about those two things. The main two items were my fire, how I felt about my competitiveness, my willingness to put in the hours and still battle at this - that was it. Then, honestly, my wife always talks to me about how I’m feeling and my health, and I think those are real things for coaches to talk about.
"We went through a thing with Ray Rhodes, and it takes its toll on you after a while. But I’m revitalized. I like our football team. Quite honestly, Tim and I have had conversations about this as well. He has to know, as does any organization, that I have that fire, he has to know that. In fairness to him, and fairness to Paul Allen, he has to see that and feel that. I had to as well. That was really what we were thinking about more than anything else.”
(On the thought that if he does finish out the current contract, he will have coached the Seahawks for a decade…) “I don’t think you look that far ahead. In fact I was telling one of my daughters last night that when we first came here, you think eight years in this business seems like an eternity when you initially start it, but then all of a sudden here you are - it’s been eight years. I don’t think we thought about it too much except in the last couple of months, that’s when I really started thinking about it. ‘Now, it’s decision time’. We made the decision, and we’re very happy about it.”
(On his lifestyle, and how he has changed things to stay healthy and to better deal with stress…) “I have a great coaching staff, and I’m trying to delegate just a little bit more, while still keeping the things that I like to do that are fun. Give them all the hard work (laughs). But really, honestly, what’s relieved some of my stress is the man sitting next to me (Tim Ruskell). It was my job to directly worry about it – about setting up the team, and everything. I can remember going on vacation in the summer, in what I called ‘time away from the building’, and I never really got away – I never really could recharge, it was just kind of going all the time.
"When Tim came on, and of course Tod on the business side of it, and Mike Reinfeldt and our personnel people…I can honestly say that I feel the decisions and how we look at the football team, what are goals are, how things are going to get done, I don’t worry about those things like I used to do. Because I know it’s going to get done, and I know it’s going to get done properly, and I know we’re all looking at it the same way. That’s helped me a lot, it really has. So when I do go on vacation in the summer in a couple weeks, I can go to the beach and not worry about it too much. Though I have to keep my cel phone with me (laughs)”
(Tim Ruskell, on working with Coach Holmgren last season, and his own decision process behind eanting to extend the contract…) “Coach and I talked about that, and I think we wanted to get to know each other, and get used to the new dynamic that was in place with Tod and myself and Coach. Obviously, as we went through the season we got to figure that out, and like Coach said, got on the same page very quickly, and I thought it was a great year.
"We have a great relationship, and it works - not just with Mike, but with all the coaches and the personnel department. It was a feel good, and that transferred obviously to the field as well, in terms of the decisions we made last year and how we went through the season.
"Everybody knows about Mike Holmgren, and what he’s done in this league, and I’m no exception to that. The thought of being able to extend him was always in our minds, but we had to go at Coach’s pace in terms of when we could talk about it, and when was it right for him. That didn’t really materialize until the end of the year, through the playoffs and then after the season. We knew we needed to be patient, and we wanted to be patient, and the result is great."
(Holmgren, on whether he ever seriously considered not signing the extension, and just coaching the Seahawks through 2006…) “Not in the last couple months. I suppose there was always a possibility that I would just…you fulfill your contract. The important thing was that I wanted to be honest with Tim about how I felt. You have a new president coming in, and it’s important that the coach and the person that has Tim’s responsibility in any organization - that has to work, otherwise nothing works. Otherwise, it’s too hard. It’s a hard business at best, and if that’s not working, it should change.
"Clearly, we had our time where we were learning to know each other. Once that was done, they came to me and said, ‘we’d like to something.’ Then, the ball was in my court to decide, ‘can I be fair with the organization, can I do what they need for me to do.’ Once that’s determined, it’s just a matter of grinding out the stuff.”
(On how much he will be involved in personnel decisions in future, and how the extension will reflect that…) “Well, I’m not going to go into details about the contract, and I hope you can appreciate that. But I will say this – there has always been, in the National Football League, the places I have been and I’m sure the places Tim has been…there’s a perception that someone starts coming to the table saying, ‘We are going to do this, and I don’t want to hear anything else.’ That does not happen – it doesn’t happen with us.
"Now, Tim has his responsibilities, and I have my responsibilities, and eventually, someone will have to make the call. That’s his responsibility now, if it should ever come to that. But we talk about everything, and I can’t think of anything to this point where we haven’t talked about it and said, ‘Okay”, and then we do it. Certainly, he has the responsibility at the end of the day to say what’s going to happen, but that’s not how it works. It works because we all talk about things – we all want the same thing. The good organizations…that’s how it works. And this is a good organization.”
(Ruskell, on whether the team’s recent free agent moves reflect an urgency to get things done in the current window of opportunity…) “Each year is different. It’s a new dynamic. You have new team chemistry, and we do realize we’re in this window, the players realize it, the coaches do, and we’re going to do everything we can to put the best team on the field every year, regardless of what that would take in terms of what moves we have to take. We’re going to go in this year feeling really good about this football team, and its chances to go as far as we can go. I hope we never go into a year where we don’t feel that way - then we haven’t done our jobs.”
(Holmgren, on the window of opportunity…) “I would just add that the window idea, I think it’s overstated sometimes. You can point to teams that may not be in the Super Bowl every year, but certainly a playoff caliber team with a legitimate chance to do that. A lot of it has to do with cap management, and all those sorts of things. Right now, we have a good football team with a nice blend of veterans and youth.
"We have a good quarterback. We have a great running back. We’ve got some pieces in place. If we do this correctly, and there is no reason to think we won’t from the business side of it, with contracts and things like that…you won’t fall off the cliff. One year you might not get to the Super Bowl, but at least you’re fighting in there and you’ve got a good chance every year. I use Green Bay as an example - in 1992, and for 15 years, that’s a long stretch of being there all the time. Philadelphia has a good little run going.
"The organization is in good hands, and I’m not speaking about myself right now. The decisions will be made to sustain this, and I have no question about that. Then you have to get really lucky with certain things, players and injuries, and all that kind of stuff. But we feel good about where it’s going right now.
(Holmgren on wearing his Super Bowl ring on this particular day…) “I’m proud of the Super Bowl ring. I don’t wear it all the time. When I see people in the market, I’m always saying, ‘we’ve got to get another one,’ and that’s what our goal is now. In a couple weeks – can I say this? - we’re going to get a nice (NFC) Championship ring for the players. We’re going to pass those out and have a nice little thing in June. That’ll be a special ring for these guys because they certainly earned it. I’ve got a lot of fingers (laughs), so we can fill them up. We can.”