- Pat McManamon, ESPN Staff Writer
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Now Mike Holmgren says he should have just coached the Cleveland Browns when he was the team’s president.
Of course he should have.
In his previous two stints as a coach, Holmgren took two teams to the Super Bowl (Green Bay and Seattle) and won one, with Brett Favre as the quarterback.
Of course he should have coached the Browns. That’s his calling, his place. It's a little late to bring it up now, though, as Browns fans wonder about yet another rebuild. And it's a little easy to pin not coaching on former owner Randy Lerner after saying for years he (Holmgren) didn't want to coach.
Holmgren wasn’t hired to coach the team. He was hired to be the credible leader and voice of football that the team lacked when Eric Mangini was coach and there was no general manager after the departure of George Kokinis.
The need for a credible football leader led then-owner Randy Lerner to Holmgren, and somehow he wound up as team president instead of the guy in charge of football. Which changed the dynamic of many things, especially the way Holmgren viewed his job.
The time for Holmgren to take over as coach was after the 2010 season, when he fired Mangini. For a football guy to take over the coaching job would have been a simple step. But for the president ... well that would have let down the guy who hired him, and if Lerner didn’t want Holmgren to coach (as Holmgren said) then it would have complicated things further.
Holmgren’s tenure is not looked on fondly by Browns fans. There is a strong and vocal group that says he didn’t put in the work or the hours, a statement Holmgren vehemently refutes. There was his anger over the entire way Colt McCoy's concussion and subsequent return to a game against Pittsburgh was handled. And there was the way he left after Jimmy Haslam took over, with great regret.
Holmgren would counter that with former GM Tom Heckert doing the drafting, the team was headed in the right direction. He and Heckert may have had to make a change at coach after the 2012 season, and had they done so their first choice would have been Bruce Arians.
Imagine how the team’s fortunes would have changed last season had Arians been the coach with Heckert still doing the drafting.
But that’s been the Browns' history since 1999, filled with a bunch of what ifs.
Would the Browns have been better off if Haslam left Holmgren and Heckert in place and not brought in Joe Banner?
Just like it’s a good question to wonder why the heck Holmgren didn’t just coach.
But it sure would have been nice to see what happened.