BEREA (92.3 The Fan) – With the change in ownership complete, Mike Holmgren has done all he can and said all he needs to.
He made his pitch to new owner Jimmy Haslam and CEO Joe Banner about those within the organization – including general manager Tom Heckert and coach Pat Shurmur.
“All I could do is be honest and tell him what I thought,” Holmgren said. “We had to make a bunch of changes in our first year, too. And so, we talked about that. We talked about all that stuff and that was the transition period. And now all the talking is done and I said what I had to say and now we’ll see happens at the end of the year.”
And now it’s time for him to leave.
“As far as contributing, it was done,” Holmgren said. “I had already passed the baton.”
Holmgren announced Monday afternoon that Friday will be his last day with the Cleveland Browns. He plans to return to Phoenix, AZ with his wife, Kathy, on Saturday.
Holmgren informed Banner last week and the team had hoped to make the announcement later this week but since his departure was mentioned during Sunday’s telecast on CBS the Browns got it over with.
“I respected that, at this point, he said he made the difference that he could,” Banner said. “We would have been more than happy to have him stay.”
There will be no restriction on Holmgren’s future endeavors going forward included in any settlement with him. He will be permitted to coach or work in any capacity within the league immediately.
“Mike’s free to do what he wants next in this field or whatever he’d like to do,” Banner said.
Banner declined to say if Randy Lerner or Haslam will pick up the tab left on Holmgren’s settlement, the terms of which have not been disclosed and is expected to be signed later this week.
The arrival of Banner in late October made Holmgren’s role with the organization redundant.
“You have a great new owner, who desperately wants to do this right,” Holmgren said. “The team is in really good hands. When I watch the Cleveland Browns play on television in the future, I’ll feel great pride when I see them play well.”
Despite winning 12 games, against 31 losses in the 2 1/2 years with the organization, Holmgren feels that he’s left the Browns in much better shape than when he arrived January 5, 2010.
“I came in wanting to change this, and make it successful, give the fans something they deserve,” Holmgren said. “My thinking is, we’ll see that in the next couple of years. I don’t think about legacy too much. In every job I’ve ever had, I’ve rolled up my sleeves and tried to do the best job I could do.”
Veteran cornerback Sheldon Brown said Monday that should Haslam and Banner decide to completely clean house by firing Heckert and Shurmur, it would be a step back considering how far the organization has come since he signed a 3-year, $15.25 million contract in April of 2010.
“Without a doubt,” Brown said. “If you look at the talent now, compared to when I first came here, the organization is moving in a positive direction.
“I think it’d be a huge setback.”
Holmgren signed a 5-year $40 million deal on January 5, 2010 to take over as team president. He admitted that there was a “learning curve” with his new role which expanded to the business side of the Browns and NFL and not just football.
“I hired very good business people,” Holmgren said. “I was very involved with budgets for the first time in my life, getting things in order so it was a profitable business. We never wanted to raise ticket prices. We got things in order, and I think we probably helped a little bit in the big business deal that took place.”
Banner agreed in part with Holmgren’s assessment of the health of the franchise while admitting there are things he would’ve done differently.
“There are aspects of the organization that I can see that there are things I would do differently,” Banner said. “I don’t want to say that’s better or worse – differently. And there are things in which I think the progress they’ve shown in the time they’ve been here, which is really just a couple of years, is very strong and does lay a foundation for us to move forward from.”
As for what his future holds, Holmgren was vague, but it’s clear he doesn’t plan on sipping on drinks with umbrellas in them for long.
“I don’t know, I honestly don’t know if I’m going to go back to work immediately or not,” Holmgren said. “And I don’t know if it’ll be in football.”
Should Holmgren decide to return to coaching, many fans would feel slighted that Holmgren decided not to coach the Browns after firing Eric Mangini following the 2010 season.
“When I came here, the decision was to try and run the organization,” Holmgren said. “And that’s what I wanted to do. I didn’t want to coach anymore at that point. I knew it would be a difficult thing watching games and not contributing.
“I made my decision, what I wanted to do, and that’s what I did.”