Monday, December 21, 2009

Mike Holmgren to Cleveland

Everything I have heard from people who’ve spent a lot of time with Mariners CEO Leiwicki is that he is well-liked, well-respected and professional.  Certainly, he seems to be taking a measured and thorough approach to re-setting the Seahawk organization for the future.  And unless you’re one of those people who really wanted Mike Holmgren back with the team, a careful and deep look at what this team and organization need to get back to winning – to evaluating talent and getting the most from it; to demanding excellence from player, coach, scout and team staff.

I’d heard several times that Mike Holmgren had come to see himself in a role similar to that of Bill Parcells, as President of a team.  I think that the Seahawks, with a Head Coach suffering through a dismal first season in which he is installing new systems, facing injuries similar in scope and impact to last year’s disastrous injury fest, to the recently departed GM, were in fact, a rather bad fit for Mike Holmgren at this juncture.  Why?  Simply put, the one job Mike seems to have wanted – the job of team president or CEO – was the one job not on the table with the Hawks.  Tod Leiwicki is dialed in to both Vulcan and to sports organization management.  He’s got a golden reputation, and if rumors are to be believed, Owner Paul Allen is very comfortable with what Leiwicki is doing and how he is doing it.

So, much as I love Mike Holmgren, and as strongly as I believe that winning Super Bowls is as much about the Head Coach, or the CEO/GM of a team  exerting his will on the organization, this just isn’t the right situation for the Big Show any longer.  As Owner Paul Allen fights his own high-stakes battle, he will want to know that the man running his sports interests is ‘his guy’, and will maintain continuity even if Mr. Allen is slightly less directly involved for a bit.

Today, the Cleveland Browns got their new President.  A classy, determined, knowledgeable, and absolutely resolute winner with a solid gold resume.  I have no doubt that five or six years from now there will be a dog pound in Cleveland that is watching a week in, week out winner.  Maybe another Super Bowl winner. 

So, am I sad that Mike Holmgren won’t be here?  Yes.  Very much so.  But I am hopeful that Tod Leiwicki will make some deeply reasoned choices that will do what Green Bay leadership did when they brought in an unproven head coach and soon enough won that coveted Super Bowl.  Will the new GM be able to work with the coach already here?  Will the team be able to draft, sign, coach and motivate the kind of improvement  that Coach Mora will need to keep his gig after next season? 

I just don’t know.  If reputations translated to accomplishments in all circumstances, then I’d be pretty durn confident of the Hawks future hire as team GM.  But, as we all know, it is never that neat and tidy.  Even had Mike Holmgren returned it wouldn’t be a clear-cut winning hire. 

I attended nearly every Seahawks home game from 1976 through 1980 – my Dad got our family season tickets and we loved every minute of the Jim Zorn, Steve Largent, Jack Patera era.  Later, in the 80s, I watched every game I could on TV, and when the local station decided to show another team instead, I formed a Sea Hawker fan club and we worked on getting the Hawks on in our area.  I’ve been a fan across the three decades since the founding of the franchise, and I imagine I’ll be a fan as long as the team continues or I do.  I loved having a winner.  I reveled in the 2005 running game, which made Matt completely deadly.  I’ve had bleeding gums and blistered eyes from watching the 2008 and 2009 teams, and for my own health I hope the turnaround is quick!

So, all I can do is wish Holmgren the very best.  He is a great man, and a great football man, and I have no doubt he’ll take what he learned in his time as GM and apply it to make his time as team president a great success.  And then I wish Tod Leiwicki the best in bringing in his team to give Coach Mora the players he needs to win.  And then I wish Coach Mora success.  He has some big shoes both literally and figuratively, to fill. 

Seattle Post-Intelligencer: NFL/Football

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Sunshine on Discovery Bay

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