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President Mike Holmgren leaving Browns, but doesn't rule out return to NFL or even coaching

By Nate Ulrich Published: October 23, 2012

President Mike Holmgren will leave the Browns, but he might not be done with the NFL -- or his coaching career.

Browns owner Jimmy Haslam announced Oct. 16 that Holmgren would retire at the end of this season. However, Holmgren made it clear today he’s not necessarily ready to retire.

Holmgren did not rule out working for another NFL team or a return to coaching during his farewell news conference this afternoon at the Browns’ headquarters in Berea.

Does he still have a future in the NFL?

“Yeah, I would think so,” Holmgren said. “But right now, I want to take one step at a time, one day at a time. My first goal, if I can, is to help this team and these coaches this season. Then I’m gonna sit back and catch my breath and look around a little bit and see what happens.”

Does he have one more coaching stint left in him?

“I don’t know,” Holmgren said. “I know this: I’ve learned a lot of things in the last three years, and one of the things that I thought I knew but now I’m sure, I do miss the coaching part of it. I really do.”

Holmgren, though, said he doesn’t regret choosing not to coach the Browns after he fired Eric Mangini following the 2010 season.

“I thought a lot about it, what I was willing to do, what I wasn’t willing to do, who I thought I could hire” Holmgren said. “At that particular time, I wasn’t ready to do it again. I didn’t want to do it. I thought I’d be short-changing to organization.”

Holmgren, 64, also said he’s not sure whether he’ll finish this season with the Browns. Joe Banner will begin serving as the organization’s new CEO on Thursday.

“When Jimmy and I talked about this, we talked about a transition period,” Holmgren said. “How that actually sorts itself out moving forward, I can’t define it so much right now. I want to feel like I’m contributing. My emphasis is gonna be on the football side of it. I don’t have to do the business stuff anymore. If I can help one player be a little bit better this season or one coach be a little bit better – some of the things I know how to do – and I feel like I’m contributing, then that could happen. So we’re just gonna take it a day at a time and see how it goes.”

Holmgren said Haslam never offered him a credible job with the Browns’ new management regime.

“Quite honestly, it hasn’t been talked about, and I understand that,” Holmgren said.

Holmgren took control as the team’s president in January 2010 after owner Randy Lerner hired him. He called the Browns his “last great adventure,” but thought it would last longer. His contract, which pays him about $8 million a year, runs through 2014.

“It was always my intention to honor my contract, if not more,” Holmgren said. “But in this business, at times, things happen, and the sale of a football team certainly changes the dynamic, and it changed the dynamic for me. My time was shorter than I had hoped, but I understand what happened. So I just wish the people that are gonna be here well, and I will always care about this place and how we’ve been treated since we’ve been here. It’s been good.”

Holmgren said he will leave the Browns unfulfilled. The team has a 10-29 record during his tenure.

“We did not win enough games, but I’m hoping the table is set for the future,” Holmgren said.

Holmgren said rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden, the 22nd overall pick in this year’s draft, is one major reason for optimism.

“Brandon’s off to a good start in my opinion,” Holmgren said. “He’s an excellent passer. I like how he leads. People don’t cut him quite as much slack because he’s 29, but he’s still a rookie. This is his first crack at playing against NFL teams and it’s different than college. I think he’s done very well. I just think there’s a bright future because I think the organization has found their quarterback.”

Holmgren also said he believes in his top lieutenants, General Manager Tom Heckert and coach Pat Shurmur. Their futures are uncertain with Haslam and Banner in charge.

“Jimmy knows what I feel about them,” Holmgren said. “I don’t think you can get a better general manager, in my own opinion, than Tom Heckert. I think he’s tremendous. Hard-working guy, great personality, knows the college players, knows how to put a winning together. He’s very, very good. And Pat is a bright, young coach … who has had to go through some stuff that not many of us had to go through when we were starting out. I believe in him as well.”

If Holmgren remains with the Browns for the rest of this season, he vowed to stay out of the way of Haslam and Banner.

“I’m not gonna rock the boat,” Holmgren said. “I’m not gonna get in anybody’s way that way. I still have my office. I’ve got my lunch ticket and my parking space still. … I think I can help a little bit, but if it gets cumbersome or uncomfortable for anybody, then, heck, I don’t want that to happen.”


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