Reporting Daryl Ruiter
BEREA (92.3 The Fan) - Meet the new Mike Holmgren.
The Cleveland Browns’ president has decided to make a change in how he does things this season.
Holmgren said Thursday that he plans to be more available and visible this coming season – but without being a distraction.
“I want it to help,” Holmgren said. “I do not want it to be a burden on the coach or general manager. That’s my goal.”
Thursday’s 58-minute press conference was the beginning.
It is a departure from Holmgren’s previous philosophy of sitting in the background while allowing the general manager and coach speak for the organization but after speaking with numerous colleagues, he has had a change of heart.
“I started to listen to people who said we’d like to hear a little bit more from you,” Holmgren said. “I’m going to try to be more available.”
Holmgren acknowledged that the lack of visibility has caused many Browns fans, who have been sold plans and a bill of goods by previous regimes, to not trust or believe in him.
“When I heard that, I was sensitive to that and it bothered me because if anything I think I care probably too much,” Holmgren said. “I’m committed. I made promises to our owner and he’s kept his promises to me. Everyone is well aware of my contract situation and all that, and there was that (rumor), in fact a couple of you asked me at one point if I was going to CBS and for the life of me I don’t know where that came from. So, no, I’m committed here.
“Kathy and I, we love the community. The people here have been great to us. We like it here.”
If fans do distrust him, he wants to change that.
“I would hope not,” Holmgren said. “If they feel that way, it’s a good reason for me to be out there more.”
Even with increased “visibility,” Holmgren wants to avoid any drama and controversy with him deciding to speak more publicly.
“They have to know and your coach has to know that the president is on your side,” Holmgren said. “There can’t be any controversies created by anything that I would say and Pat would say or Tom would say. As long as they know I have their back.”
Despite some opinions to the contrary, Holmgren isn’t looking to jump ship anytime soon. In fact he’s not planning on going anywhere other than retirement if and when his days in Cleveland end.
“This is my last job,” Holmgren said. “It is my hope that this is turned around and headed in the right direction (before I retire).”
The future of the franchise has also become a major question following a rumor that surfaced last week that the team was for sale.
Holmgren shot it down quickly.
“The Browns are not for sale,” Holmgren said. “I talk to Randy (Lerner) all the time. I assume he’d tell me because we have a very open, honest relationship. No, there’s no truth to that.”
Holmgren said that there are no plans “right now” to move either quarterback Colt McCoy or Seneca Wallace before training camp but plans do change and they would be willing to listen to any offers but he expects the three to coexist.
“Whoever is the third quarterback, that guy he gets his (feathers) ruffled a little bit, which is understandable because they’re all competitors,” Holmgren said. “They all have played in games but that’s the business. They’re big boys. They’ve gotta handle it.”
The team has the unique situation of starting a rookie quarterback in Brandon Weeden and rookie running back in Trent Richardson. In many situations it’s hardly ideal but for the Browns, Holmgren likes the potential that they both bring.
“Yeah, it is a somewhat unique situation,” Holmgren said. “But if you have to do it, these are the two young men I’d do it with.”
Holmgren thinks that the biggest challenge or learning curve for Richardson this season will be with blocking and he loves Weeden’s maturity being that he is 28 years old.
Another issue for Holmgren and the team is the rocky relationship with Hall of Famer Jim Brown. Holmgren extended an olive branch.
“How the Browns view Jim Brown hasn’t changed and will never change,” Holmgren said. “I would like Jim Brown to come and be a part of this and feel comfortable doing that. I would welcome him with open arms.”
As for the uniforms, while Holmgren doesn’t listen to fans when it comes to football matters, he’s all ears off of the field.
The brown jerseys will return this year. The team will split between wearing all white and the brown jersey white pants combo at home. He added that weather will be a factor in deciding what they wear.