Browns

Mike Holmgren’s Revisionist History Needs A Reality Check

By DARYL RUITER, 92.3 The Fan Browns Beat Reporter
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Former Cleveland Browns president Mike Holmgren / (Photo by Daryl Ruiter CBS Cleveland)

Former Cleveland Browns president Mike Holmgren / (Photo by Daryl Ruiter CBS Cleveland)

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Cleveland Browns beat writer and member of the Pro Football Writers of...
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CLEVELAND (92.3 The Fan) – Former Cleveland Browns president Mike Holmgren is at it again.

In an interview with Sports Illustrated’s Peter King last week, Holmgren was asked if he had any regrets in his time as president of the Browns.

“I really just should have coached the team, but he [owner Randy Lerner] didn’t want me to,” Holmgren told King.

King published the quote in his weekly Monday Morning Quarterback column at theMMQB.com.

When Holmgren was hired by Randy Lerner in Dec. 2009, he was given carte blanche to do as he desired with the team – even with the option to coach.

But he chose not to and made that very clear numerous times when asked why not coach the Browns himself.

“At this stage of my life that’s not what my first priority is,” Holmgren said Jan. 3, 2011 after firing Eric Mangini. “I’m relishing the role that Randy Lerner had confidence to give me.”

Holmgren was a PR disaster as team president. Under his leadership the organization fumbled a variety of situations publicly – most notably his infamous rant following the Colt McCoy concussion controversy.

“It seems it’s business as usual, which is very easy to write and say, but I’m telling you that it’s not,” Holmgren said on Dec. 14, 2011. “You can choose to believe me or you can say, ‘I’ve heard it before.’ That’s your choice, but when it does happen, don’t come to me for extra tickets to a playoff game or something. Don’t do that.

“You’re either with us or you’re not. I’m telling you it’s different now.”

What wasn’t different is that the team continued to lose and he spent more time talking to a Seattle radio station than he did the local media.

Under Lerner, Holmgren was the “de facto owner,” as Jimmy Haslam put it when he agreed to buy the team in Aug. 2012, and was free to do as he pleased.

After Eric Mangini and the Browns won the final 4 games of 2009 to finish 5-11, Holmgren didn’t have it in his heart to fire a coach after 1 year. Mangini and the Browns finished 5-11 again in 2010 so Holmgren pulled the plug and showed Mangini the door.

Enter rookie coach Pat Shurmur.

2 years and a 9-23 record later, Shurmur was fired by Haslam, who has already proven that he’s not afraid to can a coach after 1 season – see Rob Chudzinski.

Holmgren is right – the Browns would’ve been better off with him as the coach for a few years than they were with Mangini or Shurmur on the sidelines.

Holmgren, revered in NFL circles as a quarterback guru, drafted Colt McCoy (2010 3rd round) and Brandon Weeden (22nd overall in 2012). He also signed Jake Delhomme and Seneca Wallace as veterans. To top it off, the Browns were unable to land the No. 2 pick in the 2012 NFL Draft and the rights to select Robert Griffin III and then proceeded to blow the first round by trading up 1 slot for Trent Richardson and then by selecting Weeden.

The record and quarterback quandary aside it wasn’t all awful under Holmgren. Eleven of the 28 draft picks (8 in 2010 and 2011, 11 in 2012 + 1 supplemental) made over 3 years under Holmgren remain on the roster. He at least left the Browns with Joe Haden, Phil Taylor, Jabaal Sheard, Jordan Cameron and Josh Gordon.

Instead of dwelling on whether or not he should’ve coached the team, Holmgren’s real regret should be leaving Cleveland with $40 million in his pocket while producing no tangible results on the field.

But lets not let facts ruin a good story.

If only Randy Lerner would’ve allowed him to coach.

At least Holmgren can rest easy and not have to worry about Browns fans calling him for playoff tickets while he cashes severance checks.

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