Holmgren mulls future with Seahawks


It only felt like a retirement.

Mike Holmgren looked nervous. He leaned forward and pushed his hands into the armrest of his chair. A half-dozen photographers jostled for position around him. They flashed at each of the Seahawks coach's expressions.

There were smiles. Deadpan stares. And, when reminded how much Seattle wants him to stay, there was obvious emotion in reddened eyes and pressed lips.

"I'm kind of getting the feeling you guys are moving me toward the door here," Holmgren, 59, said Tuesday, chuckling during his annual season-ending news conference, which offered more hints that the most successful coach in Seahawks history may retire after 16 seasons.

Seattle will find out soon. Holmgren said he could decide "perhaps" by next week, after he spends a few days talking with his wife, Kathy, at their home in Arizona.

"We're going to bang around some stuff and talk about the future. We have our lists (of pros and cons) made up," he said, adding he is or soon will be seeking the advice of Joe Gibbs, Bill Cowher, Bill Parcells and Tony Dungy.

Gibbs, Cowher and Parcells have recently retired from coaching and Dungy, in Indianapolis, is considering it.

Holmgren was speaking three days after Seattle's fifth consecutive postseason appearance, which ended with a 42-20 loss to Green Bay in the NFC divisional playoffs. He sees three options for next season: retirement, which he's contemplating for the third consecutive offseason; completion of the final year of a contract he signed soon after the Seahawks' loss in the Super Bowl 23 months ago; or something he prefers over option two, something he called "longer, larger" &

a new extension to stay in Seattle.

When asked if the Seahawks have already offered him a new deal, Holmgren said, "Let's not get too specific."

"There are very few Joe Paternos around," he said of college football's 81-year-old coach at Penn State.

"It just takes a lot out of you, so at the end of the season you're tired."

Holmgren told his players Sunday in a final team meeting that he needed time to clear his head before deciding whether he would return.

"I've heard talk like that for so long, for so many years with him. I think the best thing we do as football players is we worry about the stuff that we can control," said Pro Bowl quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, for whom Holmgren traded with Green Bay to make him Seattle's starter in 2001.

"Obviously, Coach knows how we feel about him. He's meant a lot to the turnaround of this franchise."

His record with Green Bay and Seattle is 170-110, one win behind Gibbs for 10th in NFL history. Holmgren is 86-68 in nine seasons with Seattle. He passed Chuck Knox this season for most victories by a Seahawks coach.

Seattle won its fourth consecutive NFC West title in 2007 and will return the core of its team next season. Five of the Seahawks' six division titles have come with Holmgren.

Yet Holmgren said maybe, after seven years and two Super Bowls in Green Bay and another Super Bowl appearance in Seattle, it's time for someone else.

The nearest and most qualified someone else is former Falcons coach Jim Mora, now a Seahawks assistant. Mora was due to leave Wednesday for Washington, D.C., to interview for the head job with the Redskins.

Holmgren acknowledged all his assistant coaches are "in a little limbo," too.

"In fairness to everybody, there's also a time where maybe it's time for someone else to get you over the hump," Holmgren said of the Seahawks, who are without a league title since their inception in 1976.

"You start thinking, 'Are they still listening to me? Am I still as effective as I once was?'"

It's the most open he's been in discussing retirement.

But he emphasized he hasn't decided anything yet.

"It's not going to be a long thing. Just bear with me a little bit," he said.

Holmgren also announced that leading receiver Deion Branch will have knee surgery that's likely to keep him out past next season's opener.

Branch sought a second opinion this week from noted specialist Dr. James Andrews, who confirmed the team's diagnosis of a torn anterior cruciate ligament in Branch's left knee. Andrews will perform the surgery in Alabama "soon," Holmgren said. The coach estimated that the former Super Bowl MVP, injured early in the loss to the Packers, will miss at least nine months.

Shaun Alexander, the league MVP two seasons ago who just finished his least productive season as a starter, will have surgery to repair the left wrist he broke in the season opener. It never healed under the cast he wore for the rest of the season.

Holmgren also said All-Pro left tackle Walter Jones, who turns 34 Saturday, is likely to have surgery on his chronically sore left shoulder for the second consecutive offseason.

As for his own health, Holmgren scoffed at Sunday's revelation from linebacker Julian Peterson that the coach had a gall bladder problem this season.

The coach said health is not a factor in the decision on his future.

"No, I'm good. ... I feel fine," Holmgren said.

Then he shook his head and playfully called his Pro Bowl linebacker "Dr. Peterson."

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