BEREA: Mike Holmgren stopped by the media center Monday afternoon at the Browns’ headquarters and insisted he hasn’t expressed any interest in coaching the Dallas Cowboys if Jason Garrett gets fired.
But Holmgren never denied that he would be interested if the opportunity presented itself.
Holmgren’s tenure as president of the Browns will officially wrap up at the end of this season, if not sooner, and he did not rule out a return to coaching during his farewell news conference on Oct. 23. Garrett is in his second season as coach of the Cowboys (4-5), who will host the Browns (2-7) at 1 p.m. Sunday.
Jason La Canfora of CBS linked Holmgren, 64, to the Cowboys in a report that aired Sunday on NFL Today.
“Mike Holmgren, he has serious interest in that job if it opens up, according to my sources,” La Canfora said. “Remember, he worked with [Cowboys owner] Jerry Jones … on the competition committee. They have a strong relationship, and at this stage of his career, Holmgren’s not looking for a rebuild. He’s going for a retool.”
After reporters asked members of the Browns’ public relations department for a comment from Holmgren, he surfaced. Holmgren stressed he wouldn’t inquire about a job held by another coach during the season.
“I just wanted to make something very, very clear,” said Holmgren, whose coaching resume features two Super Bowl appearances — and one title — with the Green Bay Packers and another appearance with the Seattle Seahawks. “One, the last time I talked to anybody about my future was when I talked [Oct. 23 during the news conference]. I haven’t talked to a single soul. That’s the first thing. The second thing is I don’t know, I honestly don’t know what the future holds or what I want to do. Honestly. Believe me on that.
“Thirdly, I’ve always been, quite honestly, bothered by the speculation during the season when coaches are trying to work and they’re fighting like crazy for their jobs, and I would never do that. I would never do that to anybody. I have tremendous respect for obviously Jason Garrett. Jerry Jones and I … I consider him a friend. We worked on the committees a long time together. But I just wouldn’t do that.”
Holmgren said he doesn’t know the origin of the report and hasn’t talked to his agent, Bob LaMonte, in a month.
“I was his first client, and now I’m old news,” Holmgren joked. “He lost my phone number.”
Holmgren said he “cannot imagine” the report would be a distraction for the Browns as they prepare for the Cowboys. Browns coach Pat Shurmur agreed.
“As far as I know, the Cowboys have a coach, so I don’t know where that came from,” Shurmur said. “It’s not a distraction for us.”
Holmgren said he will travel to the game Sunday. He said he hopes to say hello to Jerry Jones and his son, Stephen, who holds the titles of the Cowboys’ chief operating officer, executive vice president and director of player personnel.
Jerry Jones discussed La Canfora’s report Sunday on the Cowboys’ flagship radio station, 105.3 The Fan (KRLD-FM), Jon Machota, a special contributor to the Dallas Morning News, reported.
“Of course, Mike Holmgren is a heck of a coach,” Jones said. “But the facts are that Jason Garrett gives us an outstanding chance to be what we want to be. So there you have it. I wouldn’t comment one way or the other there with Mike.”
Jones also mentioned that he discussed the report about Holmgren with the Cowboys’ radio voice, Brad Sham, Machota reported.
“I was interested in why he said he would like to be the coach,” Jones said. “And that was good. We are good friends, have a lot of respect for each other, served on the competition committee together for eight years. He’s very familiar with how we operate the Cowboys, and does have a high appreciation for our talent that we have on the team right now. All of that is a compliment. Thank you, Mike.”
With new CEO Joe Banner now in control of the Browns, it’s uncertain whether Holmgren will stay with the organization for the rest of this season. When asked Monday, he reiterated what he said Oct. 23.
“As long as I feel I can contribute a little bit and [I’m] helping some of the players and helping the coaches a little bit,” Holmgren said. “Joe and I have talked. As long as I’m feeling good about a contribution, [I’ll stay]. But if I’m not helping that could change. But right now the plan is to be here through the end of the season.”
Nate Ulrich can be reached at email@example.com. Read the Browns blog at http://www.ohio.com/browns. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/NateUlrichABJ and on Facebook www.facebook.com.browns.abj